Skip to main content



Thank you for your interest in our graduate program. The fall 2022 application term opened on August 1, 2021 and will close on December 1, 2021To apply, please click  here

There are two mechanisms to enter our department for studies toward the Ph.D:

1. You can apply directly to the Department of Biological Sciences. If accepted, you will complete 2-3 rotations with faculty in our department. This is a good option if you have a strong interest in one or several labs in our department and prefer a small, focused environment with maximum coursework flexibility. For additional information, please click hereIn your statement of interest, please indicate which laboratories (from the list of primary training faculty ) particularly interest you.

2. Alternatively, you can enter the department of Biological Sciences at the end of the first year after applying through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP). The IGP is a first-year admission program that includes 11 different departments and programs concentrating on the Biomedical Sciences. The Biological Sciences department is a member of the IGP program (the only department that is housed in Arts and Science, rather than the medical school). If you are accepted to the IGP program, you complete 4 rotations during the first year while taking coursework with the other IGP students (a large, overview course in the fall and smaller, focused courses in the spring). The rotations can be completed with anyone affiliated with the 11 different departments and programs (more than 200 faculty total).  At the end of the first year, you join a lab and also join a specific graduate program to which that PI belongs (e.g. Biological Sciences).

To obtain information about one or both tracks or for answers to any questions you may have, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Julian Hillyer


The fall 2022 application term opened on  August 1, 2021. To apply, please click here. You can apply to two different programs at Vanderbilt (e.g. Biological Sciences and IGP).To apply for both, you will need to complete two separate application forms on or before December 1, 2021

For more information about the application process, including application fee and waiver, click  here

Vanderbilt University is committed to principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action, and encourages individuals from diverse, under-represented populations to apply to its graduate programs. The university does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, socio-economic background, or disability.


Our doctoral program encourages applications from all highly qualified students, including international applicants. The number of international students we admit varies each year depending on the applicant pool and the specific needs of the faculty. For more information about applying to Vanderbilt for graduate school as an international student, click here. To apply, a test of English proficiency is required unless the student has received a degree from an English-speaking university.  We prefer the TOEFL test, but will accept IELTS scores as well.  TOEFL scores in the mid-90s or above are preferred. Please click here for more information. 


Is there a Master's Program?

Unfortunately we do not offer a terminal Master's program. To learn more information regarding our Ph.D. program, please click here. If you are looking for information on the Master's Program in Biomedical Sciences, please click here

How are TOEFL waivers handled? 

We will waive the TOEFL requirement as long as you have received/will receive a degree from an English-speaking university prior to enrolling at Vanderbilt University. You may request a TOEFL waiver by email:

When do the letters of recommendation need to be received?

Please encourage referees to submit letters as soon as possible since applications will not be reviewed until all letters of recommendation are received. 

I have not taken or do not have my GRE scores yet. Can I still apply?

GRE scores are not required for the Biological Sciences application. 

How are applicants evaluated?

Applicants to our graduate program are evaluated on the totality of their scholarly achievements, including previous research experience as well as GPA and test scores.

What is the minimum GPA?

Graduate School minimums for GPA are 3.0 overall undergraduate GPA and GPA in major.  For perspective, historical mean for GPAs range between 3.2 and 3.8.  However, many other factors, including demonstrated research abilities and recommendations are important in the admissions process.

What is the minimum TOEFL?

Our department follows the Vanderbilt Graduate School guidelines for TOEFL score minimums, which are currently set at: 88 (TOEFL Internet Based Test); 570 (TOEFL Paper Based Test) and 6.5 (IELTS). We prefer the TOEFL test, but will accept IELTS scores as well.  TOEFL scores in the mid-90s (iBT) or above are preferred.

What if I have more questions?

Please feel free to send us an email .