How to Apply



In the meantime, please have a look at the Application FAQ, which will be updated throughout the recruitment season.

The Department of Biological Sciences (Pitt BioSci) trains graduate students under two distinct Ph.D.-granting Programs: Ecology and Evolution (EE) and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB). Ph.D. students receive full support and stipend for at least five years and typically work under the mentorship of one or two tenured or tenure-stream faculty in the department. Please see Financial Support and Fellowships for additional information about funding provided upon admission to the program.

The application process outlined below is nearly identical for both Programs, but see the Application FAQ for Program specific details. Importantly, if you are interested in the Ecology and Evolution Program, you would typically apply through a specific mentor, while if you are interested in the MCDB program, you would typically choose your mentor after doing laboratory rotations in your first year – however, you are of course welcome to contact faculty whose research you are excited about at any time during or after the application process!

Applications are due by 11:59PM Eastern time, December 7th, 2021


All Applicants will need to complete the online application by the application deadline, which includes the following required components. Additional guidance for Domestic Applicants, International Applicants, and applicants interested in Advanced-level Entry are also below:

  • Choose Biological Sciences as the “Department” and either Ecology and Evolution or Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology as the “Program”
  • A brief personal statement, which should communicate to us how your motivations and experiences have led you to apply for a Ph.D. at Pitt BioSci, uploaded in the “Additional Information” section of the application under “Career/Research Statement.” Please refer to Application FAQ for how you might want to structure your statement
  • A Curriculum Vitae (CV) that lists your research and work experiences and accomplishments, uploaded in the “Additional Information” section of the application
  • A list of four tenured or tenure-stream faculty ranked in order of preference with whom you would be interested in pursuing Ph.D. research. These faculty should have a primary appointment in the Department of Biological Sciences. Both EE and MCDB applicants should include four faculty, even if you are applying through a potential mentor
  • Copies of your transcripts for all college-level institutions you’ve attended, uploaded in the “Additional Information” section of the application under the relevant category (Undergraduate, Graduate, Other). These may be unofficial transcripts, as long as they are legible. Certified (official) transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate study accompanied by any applicable supporting documentation (e.g., grade point conversions or course equivalencies) will be required upon enrollment
  • Three letters of recommendation, which should be submitted online by the recommender after you initiate the application
  • Graduate Record Examination scores ARE NOT REQUIRED for application or admission to the Department of Biological Sciences Graduate Program. Please do not submit scores as we will not use them in our evaluation. (Note that this may not be the case for other Ph.D. programs at the University of Pittsburgh)
  • An application fee of $75 applies to domestic applications (all US citizens and current US residents) or international applications. Application fees will be waived for students from historically excluded groups and for students with financial need. 
  • We are dedicated to recruiting and supporting a diverse graduate student population that represents a broad spectrum of social identities, including different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, sexual orientations, gender expressions, religions, nationalities, and socioeconomic statuses.

International Applicants: If you are not a US citizen or current US resident, English language proficiency demonstrated by including one of the following:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences requires a minimum TOEFL score of 90, with a minimum score of 22 in each section
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS): Minimum score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each section
  • Duolingo English Test: Minimum score of 110

Advanced Level Entry Applicants: If you have a Masters degree or a Masters level equivalent, you can optionally choose to apply for Advanced Level Entry (ALE). To do this, you should have already identified a PhD mentor who has agreed to support you if you are admitted to the program. For this route, you would follow the normal application procedure above, though ALE applications are accepted throughout the year. As is the case for other means of entry into our PhD program, GRE scores are NOT required for ALE applications.


All application materials should be submitted online. In rare circumstances, paper materials can be submitted after consulting with Ms. Cathy Barr, Graduate Administrator of The Department of Biological Sciences (