- CMB Admissions
- Admissions Requirements
- Application Suggestions
- How to Apply
- Admissions Statistics
- Admissions FAQs
Thank you for your interest in applying to the Cellular & Molecular Biology (CMB) Program! The CMB Admissions deadline is December 1. All application materials, including letters of recommendation, must be received by the December 1 deadline. Only complete applications will be reviewed.
Information about the program can be found on the About CMB page. Admissions information can be found in the tabs above and the Admissions Frequently Asked Questions page. To start your application, scroll down and select “Online Application.”
Admissions application fee waivers
The UW-Madison Graduate School offers a limited number of application fee waivers for eligible students. Please visit the Graduate School website to see if you qualify and to apply. Unfortunately, CMB is not able to provide fee waivers.
CMB no longer requires GRE scores, nor will the Admissions Committee use any GRE scores submitted as part of its review. This decision was made following a careful review of data indicating that the GRE significantly disadvantages certain groups, such as women, students from underrepresented minority groups, and students of lower socioeconomic status.
- Math through Calculus
- Cellular & Molecular Biology
The UW-Madison Graduate School requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 out of 4.0 from the last 60 semester hours of undergraduate work or a master’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0; however, a lower GPA might be acceptable for applicants who have strong research experience.
Prior laboratory research experience
Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited US institution, or a comparable degree from an international institution
English proficiency tests: see the UW-Madison Graduate School Admission Requirements for grades, degree, and specifics of the English proficiency requirements
Note: the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is no longer required
We often receive questions about the letters of recommendation and the personal statement. Please see the suggestions below from the CMB Program in regards to these topics or search online for helpful hints about letters of recommendation and personal statements.
Letters of Recommendation
- Three letters are required, and all letters must be received by December 1.
- Request letters through the online application system. You will have the chance to add a note, and we strongly recommend that you note that the strict deadline for receiving all letters of recommendation is December 1.
- Letters should be from those who can attest to your research abilities, problem solving skills, scientific creativity, work ethic, data interpretation, maturity, etc. It is best to have letters from postdoc and graduate student mentors cosigned by the faculty PI. Letters from postdoc or graduate student mentors are not appropriate on their own, but can be used to supplement.
- Letters from course instructors are most helpful if they address your potential for independence and intellectual engagement in a research setting.
- Please keep in mind that submitting more letters than required may be detrimental to your application.
Personal Statement (also known as Reason for Graduate Study / Statement of Purpose)
- Should be about 2 pages (~1000-1200 words).
- Persuade the Admissions Committee that you have great potential for success in CMB and the ability and motivation to contribute positively to CMB. To do this, describe your engagement in research, resilience and work ethic, readiness and fit for CMB, and motivation to join CMB.
- Describe your previous research experiences, including summer and intern positions. Focus on the hypothesis or goal of your research, why the research is important, and the conclusions and implications of your research findings.
- Describe your previous research experiences, including summer and intern positions. Focus should be on the general description of the project, its scientific/clinical relevance, and your role in it. Specific details should be avoided unless they are critical to understanding the big picture.
- Be concise and clear about why you are applying to graduate school in CMB at UW-Madison as opposed to other programs/universities. Show the admissions committee that you understand why CMB at UW-Madison is a good fit for you. Explain your professional goals and how admission to CMB at UW-Madison will help you accomplish them.
- Proofread your essay, share it with others, have your faculty mentors, letter of recommendation writers, and friends read it to make sure it conveys your story, and that it is free of grammatical errors. A well-written statement demonstrates attention to detail and maturity.
- Please attach your CV to the application as well (can be uploaded into the online application separate from the personal statement).
The admission application opens in early September. The CMB Program’s application deadline is December 1. All application materials, including letters of recommendation, must be received by the December 1 deadline. Only complete applications will be reviewed. The CMB Admissions Committee uses a holistic review process and reviews both international and domestic applications.
Submit the UW-Madison Graduate School Application online
- Program Select: choose “Cellular and Molecular Biology PhD”
- Complete the application as instructed
- Supplemental Apps: submit your answer to this supplemental application question: “Briefly describe why you are interested in the CMB Program, UW-Madison, and living in Madison.” (400 words or less) Note: We encourage applicants to address their interest in the CMB Program in their personal statement as well, but this supplemental app section is a chance to elaborate on that interest.
- Education: Please note that under the Education tab of the application you will be asked to submit test scores. Only international students who are required to submit TOEFL/IELTS scores must enter scores here. GRE scores are not required; please do NOT submit any GRE scores.
- Upload unofficial transcript(s) from EACH post-secondary institution attended (undergraduate and graduate), even if no degree was received
- If accepted to the program, final official transcripts will be required by the Graduate School
- Note: International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation
- Statements & CV: Upload Personal Statement/Reasons for Graduate Study and current CV/Resume (PDF)
- Recommendations: List names and emails of three references who will submit electronic letters of recommendation. Letters should be from people familiar with your research and scholastic qualifications. Using this option, references will automatically receive an email prompt to submit a letter of recommendation electronically.
- Submit the $75 application fee payment through the online application.
- The UW-Madison Graduate School offers a limited number of application fee waivers for eligible students. Please visit the Graduate School website to see if you qualify and to apply. Unfortunately, CMB is not able to provide fee waivers.
Submit OFFICIAL TOEFL or IELTS Scores, if applicable, from ETS
- We will accept either TOEFL or IELTS scores
- Scores are sent electronically from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to the Graduate School at UW-Madison
- Institution code: 1846, no department code required
- TOEFL/IELTS scores are not accepted if more than 2 years old
- See the ETS website for more information to obtain additional TOEFL score reports
- International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement if: the official language of instruction at the undergraduate institution is exclusively English; they have completed two full-time semesters of work in a U.S. institution; or if they have a degree from an accredited U.S. institution
- See the UW-Madison Graduate School Admission Requirements for grades, degree, and specifics of the English proficiency requirements
Note: GRE Scores are no longer required
- Even if you took the GRE, please do NOT enter your scores into the application. The CMB Admissions Committee will not consider any GRE scores as part of your application, even if they are submitted.
Number of Applications (5 year average)
- Total applications per year: 509
- 57% Female, 43% Male
- 10.7% Targeted Minority (Domestic); 54.2% Non-Targeted (Domestic); 31.1% International; 4% Unknown
Scores of Admitted Students (5 year average)
- GPA: 3.66/4.0
- TOEFL: 104/120
Admissions (5 year average)
- In person student interview visits (domestic and international): 75 per year
- International student phone interviews (for students living outside of the country): 5 per year
- Final international and domestic offers of admission: 66 per year
- Incoming rotating class size: 18 per year
- Incoming direct admit students: 3 per year
Final Offers (5 year average)
- 13% (332/2547) of all applicants received admissions offers
- 19.2% (266/1382) of domestic applicants received admissions offers, and 2.9% (23/793) of international applicants received admissions offers
- 19% (52/273) of underrepresented minority applicants received admissions offers
New Entrants (5 Year Average)
- Total new entrants per year: 23 (includes MD/PhD, direct admit, and transfer students)
- 56% Female, 44% Male
- 10% Targeted Minority (Domestic), 63% Non-Targeted (Domestic), 27% International
- Faculty Trainers: 215
- Graduate Students: 132
- 55% Female, 45% Male
Are application fee waivers available?
- The UW Graduate School offers a limited number of application fee grants to eligible students. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide fee waivers.
How much does the UW-Madison graduate school application fee cost?
- UW-Madison charges a non-refundable $75 application fee that must be paid by credit or debit card in the online application system. In addition to the $75 application fee, non U.S. citizens will be charged a $6.00 international document processing fee. Both fees will be processed during the submission of your application.
What criteria are used to review applications?
- The Admissions Committee will use all of the application materials to evaluate an applicant’s potential for success in CMB and ability and motivation to contribute positively to CMB. To do this, the Admissions Committee will evaluate an applicant’s engagement in research, resilience and work ethic, readiness and fit for CMB, and motivation to join CMB.
Does CMB offer a Master’s Degree?
- No. The final degree objective for all admitted students to the CMB Program is a PhD.
Does the CMB program offer spring or summer admission?
- No. The CMB program only offers fall semester admission.
What financial support do CMB students receive?
- Provided that they make satisfactory progress towards their PhD, all CMB students are guaranteed a competitive stipend and tuition remission for the duration of their graduate studies. The benefits package also includes the opportunity to purchase excellent University of Wisconsin health insurance at a reasonable price. Current stipend and health insurance rates can be found in the Financial/Health Insurance section of the CMB Handbook. Students will need to pay segregated fees each semester, and international students must pay an international services fee.
Are international applicants required to have a certain amount of money saved upon admission?
- No. Students who receive funding through their program (including CMB students) are NOT required to provide bank information. If admitted, international students who join our program will instead submit a funding letter (provided by the CMB program) to show that they are financially supported by the program.
Should I contact specific faculty trainers prior to applying to the CMB program?
- It is not necessary to contact specific faculty trainers. Students must submit all application materials via the Graduate School online application. If you are invited for an interview, the CMB program will ask you which faculty you are interested in, in order to pair you for interviews.
How are students placed in labs?
- Admitted students complete three laboratory rotations in labs of CMB faculty trainers before choosing a faculty advisor. More information can be found in the Lab Rotations section of the CMB Handbook.
Does the CMB Program allow students to directly join a faculty member’s lab as direct admit students?
- Students who matriculate into the program are required to complete three laboratory rotations before joining a lab. A small number of highly qualified applicants who are not invited for interviews are placed on a Direct Admit List and may be eligible for the direct admit option provided they receive an offer of financial support directly from a CMB faculty member.
What are my chances of admission?
- We cannot provide preliminary evaluations of chances for admission. The Admissions Committee reviews each application carefully using a holistic process, considering all application materials including personal statement, recommendation letters, transcripts, etc., and weighing applications against others in the applicant pool each year. Admissions statistics can be found under the appropriate tab on the CMB Admissions page.
Are GRE scores required?
- No. CMB no longer requires GRE scores, nor will the Admissions Committee use any GRE scores submitted as part of its review. This decision was made following a careful review of data indicating that the GRE significantly disadvantages certain groups, such as women, students from underrepresented minority groups, and students of lower socioeconomic status.
What is the Supplemental Application? Should I still address my interest in the program in my personal statement?
- Under the Supplemental App portion of the CMB application, applicants are required to answer the question: “Briefly describe why you are interested in the CMB Program, UW-Madison, and living in Madison.” (400 words or less) We encourage applicants to address their interest in the CMB Program in their personal statement as well, but this supplemental app section is a chance to elaborate on that interest.
Do all my supporting documents and English proficiency scores need to be submitted by the deadline?
- Yes, all application materials including supporting documents and test scores must be received by December 1. Therefore, applicants should plan to take the TOEFL or IELTS exam (if applicable) early enough so that the scores will reach the CMB Program before the December 1 deadline. English proficiency scores must be received electronically from ETS (institution code 1846; no department code is required).
Do I need to take the TOEFL exam? Will you accept IELTS instead of TOEFL?
- Please refer to the Graduate School Admissions English proficiency requirements. We will accept either TOEFL or IELTS scores. UW-Madison’s institution code is 1846. No department code is needed.
How can I check my application status?
- To check your application status, log in to MyUW using your NetID and password. If you have forgotten your NetID or password, please visit the DoIT page on recovering a forgotten NetID password or contact the DoIT Help Desk at 608-264-HELP for assistance.
- Please email the CMB office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Apply
Prepare your Application Materials
Three letters of recommendation, personal statement, supplemental question, CV, English language proficiency scores (if required), electronic transcripts, and application fee. Note: GRE scores are no longer required.
Submit the UW-Madison Graduate School Application
Applications are due December 1. Indicate Major Field of Study: “Cellular and Molecular Biology 147, ALS."