Ph.D. Application Information

The Roy and Diana Vagelos Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS) uses an electronic application system that allows us to receive a candidate's application immediately upon submission. Applicants can track and monitor the status of any required supporting documents on-line.


All applicants must have a U.S. bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution.

The application consists of:
  • Contact Information
  • Demographics
  • DBBS Program Choice
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Academic history
  • Test Scores 
    • GRE (not required, but optional for some programs)
    • TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo (if applicable)
  • Two essays 
  • 10 word  undergrad research description & 10 word description of graduate research interest
  • Listing of Major Courses
  • Work and Research Experience
  • Awards/Honors
  • Publication list (if any)

Applicants complete one application but have the option to select two program choices of interest. The first program choice should reflect your main research interest. If you are interested in another program that DBBS offers, please select a second program choice for that area of interest.

All application materials sent to us by the applicant become the property of the Roy and Diana Vagelos Division of Biology and Biological Sciences at Washington University and cannot be returned to the applicant or forwarded to another school/department.

Students are admitted to DBBS only for the fall semester. Please note that neither DBBS nor its component departments accept students for a Master's degree.​


Applicants are encouraged to give considerable time and thought to writing the two essays. (Some schools ask for a general “personal statement”, however DBBS requires that the applicant respond to specific essay prompts.) The Admissions Committee evaluates a number of characteristics in order to assess a candidate’s ability to benefit from and contribute to their selected program. These include academic ability, research experience, leadership, teamwork, communication skills and other personal qualities. The essays are an opportunity to help the Committee relate to the applicant’s distinctive values, motivation, and perspectives and obtain as much information as possible about their previous research experience.
Essay 1: a) describe your research project(s) and specific contributions to the work; b) discuss your motivations for graduate study; and c) relate a fundamental biological, biomedical, or data science question that most intrigues you, highlighting potential Washington University faculty mentors.
Essay 2: drawing on your past experiences within or beyond your research, please provide a statement showcasing your strengths as an applicant and articulating why you will be an outstanding graduate student.​
Applicants are requested to upload each essay as either a PDF or Word document. Applicants are highly encouraged to submit no more than two (2) pages per essay (or approximately 8000 characters including spaces). Please address each essay question separately. DBBS does not accept a personal statement or publication in lieu of the two essay questions.


Three letters of recommendation must be submitted from research mentors, faculty advisors and/or employers acquainted with the applicant’s work in the major area of study. Please use the recommender’s professional e-mail address. Do not use personal e-mail addresses through services such as AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo. Upon submission of the recommender’s name and e-mail address, an e-mail will be sent to the recommender containing a web link. The recommender will then be able to complete the necessary recommendation.

Letters of recommendation must be submitted through the online system no later than the application due date. Please note that you may submit your application before all letters have been received in our system, though we advise you to monitor the submission of letters of recommendation to ensure all letters are received by the deadline. If you are concerned your letters will not be submitted on time, please reach out to

Applicants are asked whether they wish to waive the opportunity to view their recommendation letters. Selecting Yes indicates that you will not be able to view the content of the recommendation letter in the future. Selecting No indicates that you may wish to view it in the future. Your decision will be shared with your recommenders and designated program so that they understand whether you waived the ability to see the content of the letter. Once you make a selection, you cannot change it, so consider the choices carefully. 

Please note recommendation letters are used to help reach decisions on admission and are not generally retained as part of the academic record of a student who matriculates at Washington University in St. Louis.

Applicants may review the status of required supplemental materials, such as letters of recommendation by signing into the Status Portal of the online application. If a letter(s) have not been submitted, please contact the recommender(s) and ask them to complete by the application deadline. If you need resend the recommender request email or if you need to change the recommender, you can do so via the Status Portal. 

TIP: If your recommender has not received the request email it may be blocked by a SPAM filter or filters that your school or recommenders are running. If your recommender uses a SPAM blocking tool, please be sure to have them add our email address to their known/safe addresses. Also verify that the email address you submitted to us is the correct email address for your recommender.​


  • Prior to submitting your application, you are required to upload unofficial transcript(s) in PDF format from each institution attended. Transcript must have your name, the institution name, and be translated to English when necessary. 
  • Scan the transcript at high resolution and verify each page can be read before uploading it.  Upload the transcript from each institution as a single document. Each individual university transcript must be uploaded as one file and not page by page.
  • Official transcripts are not required for the review process. If you are offered admission and accept the offer you are then required to submit an official final transcript noting degree confirmation from each degree granting institution you have attended.
  • ​We accept translations of transcripts by services. Please be aware that translations alone are not acceptable and the translations must bear an original ink signature and seal. The original transcript in the original language and the English translation must also be uploaded as one document in the application. Put the English translation first, followed by the transcript in the original language.
  • DBBS reserves the right to rescind any offer of admission if discrepancies are found between your uploaded transcript and the official transcript.

Test Scores

It is strongly recommended that you complete all testing (if applicable) within four to six weeks before you begin your application. It takes approximately 15 days to receive the test scores.

The Graduate Record Examination:
The GRE General test is no longer required by DBBS Programs, however it is optional for some. Please refer to the individual program web page ( to see if GRE scores may be optionally submitted.  If so, scores must be from tests taken in the last five years.

Official GRE Scores: Washington University in St. Louis - School code 6929.​

English Proficiency Test Requirement for International Applicants:
As part of the application review, we are required to verify that each nonnative English speaking applicant has sufficient English language proficiency to succeed in the academic program.

The English proficiency test requirement is waived for citizens of Australia, Cameroon, Commonwealth Caribbean nations, Ghana, India, Ireland, Kenya, Liberia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore, Uganda, the United Kingdom, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It may also be waived for students who have completed three or more years of study in an English-medium academic program in any of the above countries, Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa, or the United States.

If you are required to provide proof of English proficiency, the application will prompt you to self-report English proficiency scores that are less than two years old. Official scores should be sent to Washington University in St. Louis at the time of application. We accept the following English proficiency tests:

English Proficiency Tests for Application to 2023-2024

Official TOEFL IBT -- Minimum Score 100: Send electronically through ETS to school code 6929

Official IELTS  --  Minimum Score 7.5: Send electronically by selecting Washington University in St. Louis Graduate Admissions
Official Duolingo  --  Minimum Score 125: Send link with scores to

TIP: We encourage early submission of official GRE general exam scores for the programs that accept them, and ELP scores (if applicable). It is better to have the official scores sent to us as soon as possible, but no later than the December 1 deadline date.

Applicants Currently in a PhD Program

Students currently in a graduate program wishing to transfer to Washington University must submit an application. Transcripts from the current graduate institution and a letter of recommendation from the current Research Mentor are required to be uploaded in the on-line application.

Re-Applying Applicants

Applicants who have previously applied must submit a new application.

Application Submission, Review & Decision Timeline

Early submission of the Ph.D. application is recommended. This allows each application to receive the greatest consideration for admission. Once you submit your application to DBBS, you cannot go back and make changes to it.

Supporting documents; Recommendation letters and official GRE or ELP exam score reports (if applicable) can be received after the application has been submitted.​
The length of time it takes for review of an application depends on each Program's process.  A formal notice of the admission decision is sent to each applicant as soon as possible after the application and completed records are received and the Admissions Committee has made its recommendations. Most applicants are notified prior to the end of January regarding the decision to interview the applicant. Interviewed applicants will be notified of a final decision no later than mid-March.​

Checking the Status of your Application

Once submitted, you may review the status of required supplemental materials by signing into your Status Portal​ with your username and password. Timely receipt of these documents is necessary for the review of the application. Applicants will be notified via telephone or e-mail if invited for an interview.

International Applicants

DBBS does not have a set number of international students that we accept each year. The admissions committee reviews the applications, evaluates interview comments, and selects the most qualified applicants for our program.

Historically, international students comprise approximately 30% - 35% of the entering class. Outcomes are in correlation with the quality of the applicant pool of the application year.​

Deferral Request

An applicant admitted to the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences may request to defer admission for one year. Admitted candidates should submit a request for deferral to the DBBS Director of Admissions. The request should provide a general statement regarding the reason for the deferral. Deferred applicants are expected to contact the Division by April 1st to confirm their admittance for the following fall.​


DBBS Admissions Staff contact info:
Admissions Staff Email:
Snail Mail:  DBBS PhD Admissions, 660 S. Euclid Avenue, MSC 8226-13-04, St. Louis, MO 63110-1093

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