Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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Frequently Asked Questions

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Application Process

What is the application deadline for BMMB?

BMMB accepts applications throughout the year. Please apply the year before you wish to enter graduate school. The application deadline for 2018 admission is December 1, 2017. Late applications will be considered, but may be given a lower priority. Applications that are not complete by the middle of January will not receive full consideration for fall 2018 admission.

May I apply directly to a research lab?

No, you apply directly to BMMB through the Graduate School’s application. Our rules do not allow for graduate recruitment by individual laboratories. All first year students must do three 5-week laboratory rotations in their first Fall Semester before they can choose a permanent lab.


Does the program have a prescribed format for recommendation letters?

Recommendation letters can 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 a specific cut-offs for GRE or GPA scores. The BMMB Department considers the entire application before a decision is made regarding admission. For example, extensive research experience and/or excellent reference letters can offset a low GPA or GRE.


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, but recommended.


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. Late applications (after the December 1 deadline) will be considered, but may be given a lower priority. Applications that are not complete by the middle of January will not receive full consideration for fall 2018 admission. Invited applicants will be notified as soon as possible.


When are your interview weekends?

BMMB hosts two interview weekends towards the end of January/early February. If a competitive applicant cannot make either weekend, effort will be made to bring the applicant to campus. Alternatively, a phone or SKYPE interview will be conducted.

What are the interview procedures for international applicants?
Interviews for international applicants will be conducted via phone or SKYPE. The BMMB Department 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. In addition, their tuition will be paid by the department.


*Please see the Graduate School website for additional information.


**Applicants with iBT speaking scores between 15 and 19 may be considered for provisional admission, which requires an institutional test of English proficiency upon first enrollment and, if necessary, remedial course work. Educational Testing Service implemented changes to the TOEFL examination in September 2005 in the U.S., with other countries phased in over time (e.g., Canada, German, Italy, and France in October 2005, the rest of the world in 2006). This test reflects revised sections that are intended to better assess an individual's functional English skills in an academic setting and adds a speaking skills component (integrated with reading, writing, and listening skills) with a maximum score on the new test of 120 points (30 points for each of the four components).