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How to Apply

We offer two routes for admittance: 1) directly into a faculty member's lab (MS or PhD) or 2) into the graduate program with the intention of conducting up to three lab rotations in the first year (only for PhD students). For both routes, we recommend that prospective students contact faculty members with whom they have similar research interests and discuss potential opportunities for graduate research. 

See the research interests and contact information of graduate faculty in Biological Sciences and Microbiology. In addition, we have a list of faculty actively recruiting students directly into their lab or whose labs are open for lab rotations. If you see other faculty whose research is of interest to you, do not hesitate to contact them. 

When Do I Apply?

The deadline for graduate student application to be considered by for the Biological Sciences and Microbiology graduate programs is January 5th. 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. Students are not accepted into the Biological Sciences or Microbiology Program unless they have GTA, GRA, or fellowship support.

Note that the online MS degree for Biological Sciences has different requirements and follows different admissions criteria.

How Do I 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 at Graduate Admissions)
    2.  Application fee ($80 for domestic students, $90 for international students)
    3.  One unofficial copy of transcripts from every college or university attended. Official transcripts are required upon acceptance. Do not send official transcripts until accepted.
    4.  GRE scores (no more than 5 years old; Clemson's institution code is 5111). We do not require subject tests. Accepted students generally have Verbal and Quantitative scores ≥ 150 and an Analytical score ≥ 4. High GRE scores are not required for acceptance. We value research experience and work ethic more than high GRE scores.
    5.  Statement of Purpose (no more than 2 pages). 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) listed on the application. Students interested in lab rotations should state that they want to enter this program.
    6.  List of up to 3 faculty of interest to you. It is recommended that you contact faculty of interest prior to applying. The faculty member listed first would be the students intended advisor. List "Rotation" in the first slot if you wish to enter the rotation program and then in the next two spots list faculty with whom you would like to conduct a lab rotation. Students may conduct lab rotations with faculty other than those identified here. See the complete list of departmental graduate faculty as well as those faculty who are actively recruiting for this coming year.
    7.  Letters of recommendation - 3 required for PhD applicants, 2 required for MS applicants. These letters should come from people who can talk about your academic skills; experience, interest, and potential in research; and your work ethic. None of these letters may come from your prospective advisor at Clemson.
    8.  TOEFL or IELTS scores* (no more than 2 years old). 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.

*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?

If you have further questions about Clemson, you can 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. 

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. 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 the decision 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, or the Graduate Program Coordinator for Microbiology, Dr. Barbara Campbell, to inquire about the status of your 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.