Graduate Admission

Our goal is to foster a community in which excellence in research, teaching and community engagement are recognized as synergetic activities of equal importance. Therefore, we have moved away from a metric-based approach and instead use a holistic evaluation of candidates. At the forefront of this process is the recognition that inclusion and equity are the foundations of a community in which diverse ideas and perspectives are likely to flourish.

Admission to the Program

Applicants are considered once a year for fall admission, with a December 1 application deadline. All applicants must fulfill the eligibility and admission requirements of the Graduate School and show likelihood of successfully completing the departmental program.

Benefits and Stipend

All graduate students are guaranteed financial support while making acceptable progress. Financial support includes a competitive stipend, student medical insurance, and tuition for all qualifying full-time students. In most cases, support comes in the form of a teaching assistantship. This may be supplemented by research assistantships, grants, and fellowships.

Application Process

The Division of Biological Sciences prioritizes evidence of attributes such as drive, diligence, passion for sharing scientific knowledge, and a willingness to take scientific risks over metrics such as GPA, standardized test scores, and other similar quantifications. Therefore, the application process should be seen as an opportunity to highlight these attributes through your essays and letters of reference. 

Labs Recruiting Graduate Students

Most graduate students will enter the program having already identified the lab that they wish to join. Therefore, it is very important for applicants to make connections with potential advisors before submitting an application. The purpose of making connections is to begin to find out whether (1) if your interests match the interests of the advisor and their lab and (2) if the advisor is currently accepting new graduate students. We have several labs and PIs actively recruiting graduate students

Before applying

Before applying, prospective graduate students are encouraged to review and be familiar with our graduate program of study, the research strengths of the Division of Biological Sciences, our faculty members, and our course offerings on myZou. You should contact the faculty member in whose lab you are interested in working, especially if you are applying as an international student. 

List of labs recruiting graduate students for Fall 2023. 

Application materials
  1. Transcripts from each college or universitythat you have attended.
  2. Two essays.
  3. For Essay 1, you will describe your previous research experience and how it has influenced the topic(s) you are interested in pursuing for your graduate education. Please use the essay template provided on this page to prepare Essay 1. For Essay 2, you will discusses why you are interested in pursuing a graduate education.
  4. Names and contact information for three individuals who have agreed to write letters of recommendation, preferably those who can comment on your potential for success in graduate work and as a teaching assistant.
  5. Current resume/CV

Note: The Division of Biological Sciences does not accept GRE scores as criteria for admission to the graduate program. GRE scores have been demonstrated to have virtually no relationship to the ultimate success of graduate students in STEM. Further, the use of GRE cut-offs and performance adversely affects women and minority applicants for admission to STEM graduate programs [link]. For these reasons, any applications that include GRE scores will have these scores removed before any evaluation occurs by our graduate admissions committee.

Apply online

All application materials will be submitted through the MU online application system.  Do not send application materials to the department.

Degree-seeking applicants pay a non-refundable application processing fee of $75 (U.S. citizens and permanent residents) or $100 (nonresident internationals). Click here to learn if you are eligible for a fee waiver from the Graduate School.

International applicants

International students whose native language is not English are required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.

Students who obtain a speaking score of 26-27 (8) on the TOEFL (IELTS) can be considered for a teaching assistantship in the Biological Sciences (see MU's International Teaching Assistantship Program for details).

All prospective students are encouraged to make contact with the doctoral faculty member with whom they wish to work before they apply.


Select candidates will be invited for an interview. Admission decisions will be made based on the interview and the applicant’s record. 


Dr. Manuel Leal
Director of Graduate Studies

Melody Kroll
Staff support
(573) 884-4144