How To Apply

Apply Now for Fall 2015 Admission!

The M.S. in Biology program starts each fall (late August) and spring (late January).The priority application dates are:

  • March 15 for fall admission
  • October 15 for spring admission

Bachelor's Degree Background

Applicants who hold a Bachelor's degree in Biology are preferred. Students with a degree in other scientific fields (Biochemistry, Chemistry, Physics, etc.) are also eligible to apply for the program. If such a student is admitted, additional coursework at USF might be required.

Areas of Research

The graduate program in Biology has openings for new students in the following research areas for Fall 2015:

Behavioral Biology
Cancer Biology
Conservation Genetics
Developmental Biology
Plant Ecology

Applicants are encouraged to contact the Biology department faculty in the research area of their interest before submitting the online application.

Application Process

Applications that are complete and on file at USF at that time will be given priority consideration for admission and financial assistance offered by the Department of Biology. Applications are accepted and reviewed after these dates on a case-by-case basis.

Begin your application online. You can scan and upload your application items to your USF online application account. Please ensure that your scanned documents are easy to read and printable. If you are submitting test scores, you must upload copies of your score and request that official scores are sent to USF. You are encouraged to submit your completed application several weeks before the deadline.

Required Application Items

  • Contact USF research faculty in the area of proposed research specialization.
  • Create an online application account.
  • A transcript from each college, community college, study abroad program and university attended. Three-year Bachelor's Degrees are accepted for admission review.
  • Statement of Purpose - a two-page statement that describes your reasons for choosing a particular area of research for graduate study, your science background and experience, and your educational and professional goals.
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official GRE General score is required.
  • Official GRE Subject score either in Biology or Biochemistry/Cell/Molecular Biology is strongly encouraged.
  • International students need to submit their official TOEFL or IELTS score, passport data page and a completed Certification of Finance form with supplemental bank statements (see International Students).

Tests and GPA Requirements

The GRE general test score is required and the subject test in Biology or Biochemistry/Cell/Molecular Biology is strongly encouraged.

Average GRE general exam scores:
Verbal Quantitative Analytical Writing
153 (54%) 156 (63%) 4.3 (68 %)

An official TOEFL score is required of international applicants. A minimum TOEFL score of 100 (internet-based) is required for consideration. A minimum IELTS score of 7.0 or higher is required. After review of an application, coursework in USF's Intensive English Program may be recommended or required. The USF school code for the GRE and the TOEFL is 4850.

Biology applicants should hold a GPA (grade point average) of 3.2 or higher (on a scale of 4.0 as the highest score) in their undergraduate major and in upper-division coursework in the field of Biology.

Application Status

Once you begin your USF online application account, you will be sent your online account access information via email. Log in here to complete your application as well as check the status of documents received post-submission.

Notification of Admission Decision

When an application and all application items have been submitted and verified, then an application is complete and ready for admission review by the M.S. in Biology program. Admission review begins after the deadline of each admission term. Admission decisions are released beginning 4 to 6 weeks after the deadline.

Included in the admission decision letter is notification of financial assistance awarded by the Biology graduate program - including scholarships and teaching assistantships. Applicants receive email notification when the admission decision is available online. Admitted applicants also receive an admission package in the mail.

Financial Aid Application

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you can apply for a U.S. federal student loan at The USF federal school code for the FAFSA is 001325. The federal student loan program offers graduate student loans of $20,500 (or any amount of the maximum) per year. In addition, the federal government offers the Grad Plus Loan Program.

For financial assistance offered by the Department of Biology, all applicants (U.S. and international) are considered and notified of Biology scholarships and Biology teaching assistantships in the admission letter. There is no separate application for this assistance.

Advising, Registration, Orientation and Start of Classes

Admitted students can contact the Department of Biology for details about the advising and registration schedule, as well as start of classes, in late August for fall students and in late January for spring applicants. Dr. James Sikes, the Graduate Director for Biology, can be contacted at 415.422.6367 or at

International Students

Fall and Spring – International Student Orientation for New Students

For dates/time, location and other details contact International Student Services at or visit and click on "New Students".

International students are highly recommended to arrive at USF at least 10 days before the first day of classes in the fall and spring to finalize housing arrangements and attend International Student Orientation.