Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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Frequently Asked Questions

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Application Process

What is the application deadline for BMMB?

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit completed applications prior to December 1, 2018. Late applications will be considered, but may be given a lower priority. Applications that are not completed by January 15, 2019 will not be considered for the Fall 2019 admission.

May I apply directly to a research lab?

Individual laboratories do not admit students. All first year students do three 5-week laboratory rotations in their first semester before they select a permanent lab.

Are there requirements for the Personal Statement?

There is no set length for the Personal Statement, which should include a description of your:

  • Motivation/Reason for going to graduate school to obtain Ph.D.
  • Research Experience
  • Research Interests
  • Future Career Plans
  • If you feel that any component of your application (e.g. grades, test scores, etc.) does not reflect your potential for graduate studies, feel free to address those issues in your personal statement.

Does the program have a prescribed format for recommendation letters?

Recommendation letters must be uploaded by the referees after the applicant enters their reference information during the online application process.  However, if referees have trouble trying to upload their information, they may send the reference letter as an e-mail attachment to


Academic and Testing Requirements

What is the required GPA or GRE scores?

BMMB does not have specific cut-offs for GRE or GPA scores. BMMB considers the entire application before the admission decision is made. 

What transcripts should I submit?

Upload unofficial and/or scanned versions of transcripts for Bachelor’s, Master’s, Professional, and Doctorate degrees directly into the online application. The Graduate School will require all accepted students to submit official transcripts prior to enrollment at Penn State.

What are the codes for reporting GRE and TOEFL scores?
The school code is 2660, the departmental code is 0202 for GRE scores. The department code is 34 for TOEFL scores.

Is the GRE Subject Test required for admission?
It is not required.

Is a TOEFL score for an international student required if they are attending a US institution?
A TOEFL is required if the applicant has a conferred degree from a non-English-speaking institution.*

Does a TOEFL score expire?
The Graduate School has no expiration date for TOEFL’s.

Is there a minimum TOEFL score?
Yes. International applicants whose first language is not English or who have not received a baccalaureate or master's degree from an institution in which the language of instruction is English* must submit a score of 213 (computer-based test), or a score of 90, with 23 in the Speaking section (iBT test).*

After Applying

How will I know my application has been received?

You may check the status of your application, including receipt of references, documents and test scores, by logging into your existing account in the Graduate School application.  Once there, you will find a hyperlink labeled “status” that will allow you access this information.

When will I know my application has been reviewed?

BMMB begins reviewing applications as soon as they are complete.

When are your interview weekends?

BMMB hosts two interview weekends towards the end of January/early February. 

What are the interview procedures for international applicants?
Interviews for international applicants will be conducted via phone or SKYPE. BMMB will email the applicant and set up a convenient time.

When will I be notified of admission?

Admissions decisions will be made after all interviews have been completed. Applicants will be contacted via email as soon as possible with information regarding the status of their application.

Does an applicant receive a stipend if accepted?

Yes, all applicants, domestic and international, who are accepted into the BMMB Ph.D. program will receive a monthly stipend and health insurance subsidy. In addition, their tuition will be paid by the department. Please see the funding and benefits pages for more information.


*Please see the Graduate School's Requirements for Graduate Admission for more information.