Graduate Studies: Applying

The first, and most important, step in applying to the on-campus graduate degree programs in Biological Sciences or Microbiology is to identify and contact a faculty member with whom you have similar research interests and discuss potential opportunities in his or her lab for graduate research. All students must have a faculty mentor willing to serve as their Major Advisor prior to acceptance being granted. Students interested in any degree program within this department should contact and receive verification from a faculty member regarding support for their graduate research. The Department of Biological Sciences does not accept students without verification of support of a faculty member. Note that the online MS degree for Biological Sciences has different requirements and follows different admissions criteria.

See the research interests and contact information of graduate faculty in Biological Sciences and Microbiology.

In addition, a list of faculty recruiting for the Fall 2015 semester can be found here. If you see other faculty whose research interests you, do not hesitate to contact them. Sometimes faculty are able to work out funding for a highly qualified student.

When Do I Apply?

The deadline for graduate student application to be considered by the Department of Biological Sciences for the Biological Sciences and Microbiology graduate programs is January 5th of each year. Students who will be supported through Graduate Teaching Assistanships (GTAs) are admitted only in the Fall semester of each academic year and receive a 9-month appointment. Graduate students may also be supported by individual faculty members’ research grants through Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA), and these students are accepted into either graduate program in both Fall and Spring Semesters. Individual faculty members must indicate their intention of supporting prospective applicants on GRAs to the Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC) prior to a student’s acceptance into the graduate program. Students are not accepted into the Biological Sciences or Microbiology Program unless they have GTA, GRA, or fellowship support.

How Do I Apply?

Online applications for graduate degree programs are through Graduate Admissions. The fee for processing domestic applications is $80.00. The fee for international applications is $90.00. In the application, each applicant includes a Statement of Purpose (no more than 2 pages), which outlines your general interests in graduate research and your future career goals in the Biological Sciences or Microbiology. 

What Do I Need to Apply?

The following materials are required before an application is considered complete and will be forwarded to the Department (remember to receive consideration for a teaching assistantship, all materials must reach Graduate Admissions no later than January 5th of each year):

  1. Application form (online submission on web site at Graduate Admissions).
  2. Non-refundable application fee.
  3. One (1) official (with seal) copy of your transcript from each college or university attended.
  4. GRE scores (no more than 5 years old; Clemson's institution code is 5111)-Biological Sciences and Microbiology do not require subject tests.
  5. Letters of recommendation - 3 required for PhD applicants, 2 required for MS applicants.
  6. TOEFL or IELTS scores* (no more than 2 years old).

*TOEFL or IELTS scores are required of all international students except those from countries where English is the official language, or those who have received a degree from a US university or college.

Whom Do I Contact if I Have Questions?

For Graduate Admissions information and submission of application materials:
Graduate Admissions
E 209 Martin Hall
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634
Telephone: 864-656-2287

Express Inquiry

If you have further questions, you can click on the adjacent link
to visit the Graduate School's Express Inquiry Page.

For inquiries regarding the Biological Sciences or Microbiology graduate programs, contact Jay Lyn Martin ( JAYLYN@clemson.edu ), Student Services Program Coordinator for the Department of Biological Sciences. Below is the mailing address for the department graduate program:

Graduate Services
Department of Biological Sciences
132 Long Hall
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634-0314
Telephone: 864-656-3587


What Happens After I Apply?

Once all application materials (items 1-6 listed above) have been received by Graduate Admissions, your file will be made available to the faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences. Individual faculty members will send requests to the Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC) asking them to review applicants they are interested in supporting in their labs. The GAC for Biological Sciences is composed of two faculty members representing the graduate program in Biological Sciences, two representing Microbiology, one representing Environmental Toxicology, and the Graduate Program Coordinators for Biological Sciences and Microbiology. These files are then reviewed by the GAC who will determine whether candidates are competitive for admission into each degree program. Remember that a Biological Sciences or Microbiology faculty member must agree to serve as Major Advisor before an applicant can be accepted. Applicants will then be admitted to the appropriate degree program through formal notification of Graduate Admissions and the applicant by email. The entire process takes from 6-8 weeks, and therefore applicants are usually notified of their acceptance or decline by mid-March of each year. If you have not received a decision letter by April 1st, you may email the Graduate Program Coordinator for Biological Sciences, Dr. Saara DeWalt (saarad@clemson.edu), or the Graduate Program Coordinator for Microbiology, Dr. Jeremy Tzeng (tzuenrt@clemson.edu), to inquire about the status of your application. 

Guidelines used by GAC for Graduate Programs Admission:

The following criteria are used to determine each applicant's suitability for either the Biological Sciences or Microbiology graduate program. These criteria are used as guidelines, thus applicants may be considered competitive by GAC even if one or more requirements are not absolutely met.

  1. GRE scores: Generally, we only admit students with Verbal and Quantitative scores above 150 and Analytical scores above 4.0. Highly competitive students generally have much higher scores. Applicants below these minimum requirements must submit exceptional supporting materials to have a competitive application (transcript, reference letters, other supporting documents such as published papers).  

    Statistics on Test Scores of students offered admission - for past 3 years.
       *Old Scale / New Scale  
    BioSci PhD = 21
       
       Old / New      Old / New
    Verbal GRE
      Quantitative GRE
    Mean = 540 / 156   Mean = 690 / 154
    Min = 410 / 147   Min = 560 / 146
    Max = 660 / 164   Max = 800 / 166

           *Old Scale / New Scale  
    BioSci MS = 7
       
       Old / New      Old / New
    Verbal GRE
      Quantitative GRE
    Mean = 550 / 156   Mean =
    690 / 154
    Min =
    420 / 148
      Min =
    560 / 146
    Max =
    650 / 163
      Max =
    750 / 159

       *Old Scale / New Scale  
    Micro PhD = 9
       
       Old / New      Old / New
    Verbal GRE
      Quantitative GRE
    Mean = 560 / 157   Mean = 750 / 159
    Min = 430 / 149   Min = 610 / 149
    Max = 720 / 168   Max = 800 / 166

           *Old Scale / New Scale  
    Micro MS = 10
       
       Old / New      Old / New
    Verbal GRE
      Quantitative GRE
    Mean = 550 / 156   Mean = 690 / 154
    Min = 380 / 145   Min = 600 / 148
    Max = 670 / 164   Max = 770 / 161

  2. GPA: A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 from undergraduate degree institution and Master's degree institution (if applicable).
  3. TOEFL or IELTS (international students): Because of the strong communication component of graduate degree programs, non-native speakers of English should have a TOEFL score of at least 102 (out of 120) with a speaking score greater than 20. IELTS is acceptable in place of TOEFL, and scores on the IELTS should be at least a 7.5.
  4. Letters of recommendation: Strong letters from recommenders that speak to an applicant's academic skills and research potential are essential to a competitive application: 3 required for PhD applicants; 2 required for MS applicants. None of these letters may come from the prospective advisor at Clemson.
  5. Statement of Purpose: A strong statement of purpose is essential to a successful application. The statement should outline the applicant's reasons for seeking graduate education, research areas of interest, research experience, long-term career goals that incorporate the importance of a graduate degree program, and rationale for wanting to work with the particular faculty advisor(s) indicated in the application.
The Biological Sciences program has the following undergraduate course requirements:

Calculus (1 semester) Inorganic Chemistry (2 semesters)
Physics (1 semester) Organic Chemistry (1 semester)
Genetics (1 semester) Evolutionary Biology (1 semester)
At least one course in the following: Cell and Molecular Biology, Physiology and Structural Biology, Ecology and Animal Behavior.
 
The Microbiology Program has the following undergraduate course requirements:
Calculus (1 semester) Organic Chemistry (2 semesters)
Biochemistry (1 semester) Molecular/Cell Biology (1 semester)
General Microbiology (1 semester) Physics (1 semester)

Not meeting the undergraduate degree requirements will usually not affect an applicant's acceptability for the Program, but rather, missing requirements will be listed as "undergraduate deficiencies" that will need to be completed as part of the student's graduate degree program. Which courses will be used to make up these deficiencies is determined by the student and his or her advisory committee.