Frequently Asked Questions

Does the BMS Program offer a masters degree program?
The BMS program offers a PhD program only.

Can students enroll on a part-time basis, or register only for specific courses?
No. The BMS program is a full-time research program. Students take coursework in the first year of study, but this coursework is intended to fill any gaps in prior education and lay the groundwork for the research portion of the program.

How long does it take to complete a PhD?
We expect most students will complete all degree requirements, including coursework and a research project, in about five years.

How many international students are admitted each year?
We admit a small number of international students per year.

I am interested in applying for admission to a BMS sub-program. How do I apply?
The BMS thematic areas describe areas of research conducted by BMS laboratories rather than distinct degree-granting programs. Admitted students may choose to work with any BMS faculty member regardless of research interest, and the eventual diploma granted to graduating students will be under the name "Biomedical Sciences." Faculty in our thematic areas are well-organized and maintain robust programs that include elective courses, journal clubs, seminars, retreats and symposia. These program events help foster collegiality and collaboration among research labs within that area. As a result, the training provided in each thematic area is as rich as that provided by separate degree-granting graduate programs, while inclusion in the BMS umbrella also provides the benefit of a broad biomedical sciences training.

In addition to the BMS program, UCSF also has separate degree-granting programs in Neuroscience and Developmental & Stem Cell Biology that are distinct from BMS. Students with a direct and focused interest in these fields of research may wish to apply to these programs.

What is the difference between the BMS Program and other programs at UCSF such as the Tetrad Program, Neuroscience Program, or Developmental & Stem Cell Biology Program?
There is sometimes confusion between BMS and other UCSF programs due to overlapping research areas and faculty membership. However, BMS is a distinct program that maintains a separate curriculum and separate admission process. If you are unsure which program may be right for you, we encourage you to review the curriculum pages and faculty roster on each program's respective website to help you in your decision-making. A list of all UCSF graduate programs is available at the UCSF Graduate Division's website.

Can I apply to more than one UCSF graduate program?
No. You may apply to only one UCSF graduate program in a single academic year. It is therefore important to consider which program suits your interests and apply to only that program. Listed below are other graduate programs at UCSF with whom we share faculty, along with a link to their respective websites. Each graduate program maintains its own admissions procedure.

Biological & Medical Informatics (BMI)
Biophysics Program
Chemistry & Chemical Biology Program (CCB)
Developmental & Stem Cell Biology (DSCB)
Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
Neuroscience Program
Pharmaceutical Sciences & Pharmacogenomics (PSPG)
Tetrad Graduate Program (includes PhD programs in Cell Biology, Genetics and Biochemistry)
UCSF/UCB Joint Graduate Group in Bioengineering

What is the minimum undergraduate GPA required for admission to the BMS Program? What are the minimum GRE requirements?
University of California's minimum requirement for admission is a 3.0 undergrad GPA, but the successful applicant is usually distinguished by a strong undergraduate academic record and test scores, and prior research experience in university or corporate laboratories.

Can I substitute the MCAT for the GRE?
The GRE general test is required for graduate admission to UCSF.

Is the GRE Subject test required for admission? If I choose not to take the GRE Subject test, how will my chances of being admitted be affected?
A subject test is not required, but is strongly encouraged. For applicants who take the subject test, the choice of subject is up to you, but most applicants typically choose Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry or Physics. The subject test is offered worldwide only a few times during the year, so we recommend that it should be taken as early as possible.

May I submit more than three letters of recommendation in support of my application for admission to the BMS Program?
You may submit as many letters as you wish. However, only three are required. It is helpful if letters are provided by individuals who can attest to prior research experience or training.

What is more important for admission, good grades, high GRE scores, or research experience?
Equal consideration is given to all components of the application. Successful applicants are typically distinguished by their strong academic records (grade point averages of 3.2 or higher) and by prior exposure to scientific research. Such research experience might include undergraduate thesis projects, laboratory internships, technician positions or summer research programs in university or corporate laboratories.

What kinds of jobs do BMS students get after graduation?
BMS students typically go on to academic postdoctoral positions and ultimately faculty positions, but many students choose industry, policy and teaching positions, or become entrepreneurs. Please see BMS: Career Outcomes.

How can I apply for a teaching assistantship to help pay my costs?
BMS is a full-time research program leading to the PhD degree. Because outside employment is not permitted, all students who are admitted to BMS and who remain in good academic standing will receive an annual stipend plus tuition/fee remission until graduation, regardless of citizenship. Therefore, while teaching is a required part of our curriculum, it is not used as a scholarship mechanism. We do encourage all students to apply for extramural funding, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. Please see Funding & Fellowships for more information about how students are funded in BMS.