The GRE is not required and will not be included or considered during the review of applications.
Please Note: The application deadline is Thursday, November 30, 2023, 8:59PST/11:59EST
If you would like to learn more about our program, you can watch informational YouTube videos from the past two UC Berkeley Graduate Diversity Admissions Fairs: 2021 recording & 2020 recording.
The admission committee employs a holistic approach to assessing the merits of each application. This means that we review all facets of an application in order to determine a candidate’s overall potential and fit with our program. It also means that individual parts of the application are not weighted above others (such as GPA).
Every year, the Biophysics PhD enrolls a class of 8-12 of some of the most promising and adventurous young scientists from around the globe. Our students come from diverse and eclectic backgrounds, both scientific and personal. We are committed to a diverse community at UC Berkeley and in the Biophysics program. In making admissions decisions we consider the potential of the whole individual to succeed in the program. Research accomplishments, personal and scientific statements of purpose, and recommendation letters are given careful consideration.
Finalists will be interviewed virtually in January and admits will be invited to visit Berkeley in March (once determined, dates will be posted below). Admission is for the Fall semester only, and Biophysics does not offer a Master’s degree.
We are happy to answer any questions you may have, but please be sure to read this entire page first, as many of your questions will be answered below.
Jump to section:
- Application Requirements
- Application Deadlines
- Financial Support
- Tips for the Application Process
Minimum requirements for admission to graduate study:
- A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution.
- Minimum GPA of 3.0.
- Sufficient undergraduate training to undertake graduate work in the chosen field. This includes such undergraduate majors as: biological sciences, structural biology, physics, math, and chemistry. Laboratory experience is highly recommended.
- TOEFL scores for international students (see below for details).
Application requirements (ALL materials, including letters, are due November 30). More information is provided and required as part of the online application, so please create an application/account well before the deadline and review the online application before emailing with questions:
- A completed graduate application: The online application opens in early or mid-September and is located on the Graduate Division website. Paper applications are no longer accepted. Please create your account and review the application well ahead of the submit date, as it will take time to complete and requests information not listed here.
- A nonrefundable application fee: The fee must be paid using a major credit card and is not refundable once paid.
- For US citizens and permanent residents, the fee is $135; US citizens and permanent residents may request a fee waiver as part of the online application. These waivers are reviewed by the Graduate Division, so please direct questions to them about this waiver.
- For international applicants, the fee is $155. The Graduate Division fee waiver is not available to international students.
- New this year, Biophysics fee waivers. The Biophysics Graduate Group is pleased to offer a limited number of application fee waivers for eligible international applicants with significant financial need! Additionally, US citizens, permanent residents, and undocumented students who do not qualify for the fee waiver through the application (noted above), but still face financial challenges, can apply. To be considered for this waiver 1) start the application process, 2) complete as much of the application as possible, including letters of recommendation, 3) complete the separate Fee Waiver Request Form by Friday, November 10, 2023. You must request a waiver before submitting your online admissions application, but the application must be close to complete for consideration. We cannot issue fee waivers retroactively for applications that have already been paid for and submitted.
- Three letters of recommendation, minimum (up to five are accepted): Letters of recommendation must be submitted online as part of the Graduate Division’s application process. Letters are also due Nov. 30, so please inform your recommenders of this deadline and give them sufficient advance notice. It is your responsibility to monitor the status of your letters of recommendation (sending prompts, as necessary) in the online system.
- Transcripts: Unofficial copies of all relevant transcripts, uploaded as part of the online application (see application for details). Unofficial copies of official transcripts are strongly preferred, as uploaded transcripts must include the applicant and institution name and should be easy for the reviewers to read (print-outs from online personal schedules can be hard to read and transcripts without your name and the institution name cannot be used for review). Do not send via mail official paper transcripts to Grad Division or Biophysics, they will be discarded.
- Two Essays: The Statement of Purpose [2-3 pages], Personal Statement [1-2 pages]. See tips, below, for more more information.
- Applicants are encouraged to apply for extramural funding, such as NSF Fellowships. Admissions offers are made before (and independent of) fellowship decisions, but writing the proposals is great preparation for graduate school and is a great addition to a CV. Please see Financial Support, below.
- Read and follow all of the “Tips for the Application Process” listed below. This ensures that everything goes smoothly and you make a good impression on the faculty reviewing your file.
GRE: The Graduate Record Examination is no longer required. Subject exams have never been required. GRE scores will not be used as part of the application review and admission. If you are also considering applying to a program at UC Berkeley that requires GREs, the Graduate Division has information on reporting the scores.
TOEFL/IELTS: Adequate proficiency in English must be demonstrated by those applicants applying from countries where English is not the official language. There are two standardized tests you may take: the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). TOEFL minimum passing scores are 90 for the Internet-based test (IBT), and 570 for the paper-based format (PBT). The TOEFL may be waived if an international student has completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better while in residence at a U.S. university (transcript will be required). Please click here for more information and contact the Graduate Division if you have questions as this is a university requirement, not programmatic.
The Application Deadline is 8:59 pm Pacific Standard Time, November 30, 2023. The application will lock at 9pm PST, precisely. All materials must be received by the deadline, including letters. While rec letters can continue to be submitted and received after the deadline, the committee meets in early December and review will proceed even if applications are incomplete (which could impact the evaluation). TOEFL tests should be taken by the deadline, when possible.
It is your responsibility to ensure and verify that your application materials are submitted in a timely manner. Please be sure to hit the submit button when you have completed the application and to monitor the status of your letters of recommendation (sending prompts, as necessary). Please include the statement of purpose and personal statement in the online application. While we welcome CVs, please do not upload full papers or publications. Please do not send, via regular mail, résumés, separate folders of information, or articles. They will be discarded unread.
The Biophysics recruitment visit for Fall 2024 will consist of two parts.
- Top applicants will be interviewed virtually January 22 & 23, 2024.
- Based on those interviews we will make admissions offers and host a fun Admit Visit for those offered admission March 12-14, 2024.
The Biophysics Group provides a competitive stipend ($43,362 for 2023-24) as well as full payment of registration fees and non-resident tuition (which includes health care). Students maintaining satisfactory academic progress are provided full funding for five and a half to six years. The program supports students in the first year, while the PI/mentor provides support from the second year on. Extramural or campus fellowships are considered part of a student’s funding package, even in the first year, and should be accepted, unless otherwise notified by the program. A portion of the student’s overall support is in the form of salary for a minimum of one semester of teaching assistance as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) in departments such as Chemistry, Physics, or Molecular and Cell Biology. Teaching is part of the training of the program and most students will not teach more than one semester, unless by choice.
Due to cost considerations, the program admits few international students: two to three per year. Those admitted are provided the same financial support as domestic students, as stated above: stipend, fees and tuition.
Students are also strongly encouraged to apply for extramural fellowships, if eligible. There are a number of extramural fellowships that Berkeley students apply for that current applicants may find appealing. Please note that the NSF now only allows two submissions – once as an undergrad and once in grad school. The NSF funds students with potential, as opposed to specific research projects, so do not be concerned that you don’t know your grad school plans yet – just put together a good proposal! Please note that we make admissions offers before the release of (and independent of) the results of fellowship competitions, so our recommendation to apply to them is mainly for your own benefit.
- National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (app deadlines in Oct)
- Hertz Foundation Fellowship (app deadline Oct.)
- National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (app deadline in mid-Fall)
- DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (Krell Institute) (app deadline in Jan)
Tips for the Application Process
Required Essays: Be sure to put your name and type of essay on your essays (Statement of Purpose [2-3 pages], Personal Statement [1-2 pages]) as a header or before the text, whether you use the text box or upload a PDF or Word doc. There is no minimum length on either essay, but 3 pages maximum is suggested. The Statement of Purpose should describe your research and educational background and aspirations. The Graduate Division provides more information here. The Personal Statement can include personal achievements not necessarily related to research, barriers you’ve had to overcome, mentoring and volunteering activities, things that make you unique! More information on writing a personal statement can be found here.
Letters of Recommendation: should be from persons who have supervised your research or academic work and who can evaluate your intellectual ability, creativity, leadership potential and promise for productive scholarship. If lab supervision was provided by a postdoc or graduate student, the letter should carry the signature or support of the faculty member in charge of the research project. Note: the application can be submitted before all of the recommenders have completed their letters. It is your responsibility to keep track of your recommender’s progress through the online system. Be sure to send reminders if your recommenders do not submit their letters.
California Residency: You are not considered a resident if you hope to enter our program in the Fall, but have never lived in California before or are here on a visa. So, please do not mark “resident” on the application in *anticipation* of admission. You must have lived in California previously, and be a US citizen or Permanent Resident, to be a resident. Residency status does not impact the review of an application.
Extramural fellowships: it is to your benefit to apply for fellowships as they will facilitate entry into the lab of your choice, are a great addition to your CV and often provide higher stipends. Do not allow concerns about coming up with a research proposal before joining a lab prevent you from applying. The fellowships are looking for research potential and proposal writing skills and will not hold you to specific research projects once you have started graduate school.
Calculating GPA (to a 4.0 scale): Schools can differ in how they assign grades and calculate grade point averages, so it may be difficult for this office to offer advice. The best resource for calculating the GPA for your school is to check the back of the official transcripts where a guide is often provided or use an online tool. There are free online GPA conversion tools that can be found via an internet search. We do not require any documentation for your calculations, just the relevant result.
Faculty contact/interests: Please be sure to list faculty that interest you as part of the online application. You are not required to contact any faculty in advance, but are welcome to. It will not impact your chances of being admitted into the program.
Submitting the application: To avoid the possibility of computer problems on either side, it is inadvisable to wait until the last day to start and/or submit your application. It is not unusual for the application system to have difficulties during times of heavy traffic. However, there is no need to submit the application too early. No application will be reviewed before the deadline.
Visits: We only arrange one in-person campus visit for recruitment purposes. If you are interested in visiting the campus and meeting with faculty before the application deadline, you are welcome to do so on your own time (we will be unable to assist with any scheduling or tours).
Name: Please double check that you have entered your first and last names in the correct fields. This is our first impression of you as a candidate, so you do want to get your name correct! Be sure to put your name on any documents that you upload (Statement of Purpose, Personal Statement).