How to Apply

Parts of a bioscience graduate program application

  1. Applicant Information
    • Candidates must have a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited US institution or a comparable degree from an international institution
    • We ask for general information and demographical information. This information is all confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside the program you are applying for
  2. Resume or CV
    • List all relevant experience to your graduate school aspirations. Have you worked in a lab before? What skills have you acquired from classes you took? What transferable skills have you acquired from other jobs that you have held?
      • For example, a transferable skill might be attention to detail that you might have learned at a previous retail experience
  3. Transcript
    • No official transcripts are required as part of the application. The Graduate School will send an instructional email request after the program has recommended admission.
    • A minimum undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00 on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours (approximately two years of work) or a master’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 is required. Applicants from an international institution must demonstrate strong academic achievement comparable to a 3.00 for an undergraduate or master’s degree. The Graduate School will use your institution’s grading scale. Do not convert your grades to a 4.00 scale.
  4. Personal Statement
    • Address in narrative essay form your reasons and goals for graduate study; how will earning a Ph.D. help you achieve your goals?
  5. References
    • ​Qualified references include faculty and/or supervisors, who have familiarity with the your intellectual, academic and research oriented capabilities, accomplishments and personality. Recommendations are included as part of your online application.
    • Most applications require 3 references, but you can submit more than three if you have relevant references
  6. A $75 non-refundable application fee.
    • The application fee covers an application to three different graduate programs at UW-Madison. We encourage you to apply for the programs that best encompass your research interests, but you need to keep in mind that you will need to submit all application materials by the first program deadline. The UW Graduate School offers a limited number of application fee grants to eligible students.

Timeline for Applying


The UW-Madison graduate school application portal for the following fall semester opens. Students should start putting together their application information, working on their resumes/CVs and deciding who to ask for reference letters. We recommend giving references at least 4 weeks to provide a letter that describes why you are well suited for graduate school.

  1. Applications are due. Check individual program websites for actual date (usually 12/1 or 12/15). You can always submit the application early. Many programs will evaluate applications when they receive them.
  2. Generally, admissions committees meet to evaluate applications. Committees focus on the whole application and very often focus on the personal statement and the reference letters. Most meetings happen in December, but there are some committees that meet later in January.
    1. Selected students are invited for an interview. Some programs send out offers of admission at the same time as an interview invitation, but most programs don’t make their final decisions until after the interview process is completed.
    2. Some programs require that incoming graduate students already have a faculty mentor who has agreed to take them on as a student. This is to ensure funds for the students are available for the duration of their graduate studies. These arrangements are very often student initiated and start over emailing professors you are interested in working with.
  1. Interviews with programs. These can be done entirely virtually with Zoom interviews, or entirely in-person. We have also seen movement towards hybrid interview processes where the interviews with faculty members are conducted virtually, with students invited for a showcase weekend on campus. We expect that students will have interviews with multiple schools and even multiple programs here on campus.
  2. Final offers of admission are sent. If you haven’t heard back from a program you interviewed with by mid-March, you should email the program to ask for an update.
  1. On April 15th, all decisions are required for students who will be starting in rotator positions (
  2. Students are still eligible for direct admit positions on a rolling basis after April 15th. Not all program accept direct admit students; you should check individual program websites.

Towards the end of June, newly admitted graduate students are matriculated in the system and will start receiving emails from the Graduate School and the program they are joining to help with the transition to graduate school.

Ready to apply?

Start your application

This button will redirect you to the application page of the Graduate School website.