Graduate Studies: Applying

The first, and most important, step in applying to one of the graduate degree programs in Biological Sciences 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 accepted into the Graduate Program in the Department of Biological Sciences 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 currently accept students without verification of support of a faculty member. See details about opportunities in specific fields of study and faculty research interests, including email contact information to get a better perspective of our program.

When Do I Apply?

The deadline for graduate student application to be considered by the Department of Biological Sciences for a Graduate Teaching/Laboratory Assistantship (GTA) is January 5th of each year. This deadline applies to both the Biological Sciences and Microbiology graduate programs. Students who will be supported through GTAs are, in general, 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 or GRA support.

The Graduate Admissions Office requests that no GRE scores, no reference letters, no resumes, no supporting documents of any kind, should be sent to Graduate Admissions until an online application is completed.

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.  The fee for online students is $60.00. The Department also requests each applicant include a written Statement of Purpose (no more than 2 typewritten pages), outlining your general interests in graduate research and your future career goals in the Biological Sciences or Microbiology. Statements of Purpose should also be submitted to Graduate Admissions along with the rest of your application. Students should not send supporting materials until they have submitted an application.

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 scores* (no more than 2 years old).

*TOEFL is 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 ( ), 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 forwarded to the Department of Biological Sciences. Applicant files for Biological Sciences and Microbiology graduate programs are reviewed by the Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC) who will determine whether candidates are competitive for admission into each degree program.These applicants will then be reviewed by Biological Sciences and Microbiology Faculty, who must agree to serve as Major Advisor before an applicant can be accepted. Upon notifying the Graduate Programs Coordinator (Dr. Saara DeWalt,, for Biological Sciences or Dr. Jeremy Tzeng,, for Microbiology) of willingness to serve as Major Advisor, the applicant will then be admitted to the appropriate degree program through formal notification of Graduate Admissions and the applicant by mail. The entire process takes from 6-8 weeks, thus 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 Programs Coordinator, Dr. Saara DeWalt ( for Biological Sciences or Dr. Jeremy Tzeng ( for Microbiology, 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 score: Applicant scores ranged from 4.0 to 5.0 on the analytical writing section of the GRE as well. Any applicant with a V+Q total or an analytical writing score below these ranges must be able to submit exceptional supporting materials to have a competitive application (transcript, reference letters, other supporting documents such as published papers). For verbal and quantitative scores, please review the chart below:

    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 (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 600 (out of 677) from paper exam or 267 (out of 300) from online exam, or 107 (out of 120) from the Internet exam.IELTS is acceptable in place of TOEFL.
  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.
  5. Statement of Purpose: A strong statement of purpose that outlines an applicant's reasons for seeking graduate education, research areas of interest, research experience and long-term career goals that incorporate the importance of a graduate degree program are essential to a successful 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.

A list of faculty recruiting for the Fall 2014 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.