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 requirements of the Graduate School and show likelihood of successfully completing the departmental program.

Benefits and Stipend

All doctoral 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. 

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.

Application materials
  1. Official transcripts from each college or university that 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.

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.

To find out if you are eligible for an application fee waiver, you should send an email with the subject line “Application Fee Waiver Request” to Dr. Manuel Leal, Director of Graduate Studies, for prior to completing MU’s Graduate Application.

International applicants

International students whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL exam and have the scores sent to the Division of Biological Sciences as part of the application process.

The Graduate School requires that International applicants submit proof of financial support. This information should be sent directly to the Graduate School at 210 Jesse Hall. Please follow the following link for more information:

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to make contact with the doctoral faculty with whom they wish to work before they apply.

On-campus Interview

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