Admission Requirements & Deadlines

The Biophysics Admissions Committee will meet weekly starting in early December to evaluate completed applications. A select number of applicants will be invited to interview at our on-campus Recruitment event in February. Invitations are extended in December. International applicants residing outside the U.S. are offered Skype interviews. Admissions decisions are made by mid-to-late March, once all interviews have taken place.

The success of the Graduate Field is dependent on the quality of the graduate students enrolled. We therefore take great care in the selection of potential students: a committee of five faculty read and evaluate all applications. Candidates to our program come from many academic backgrounds; however, matriculating students commonly will have majored in one of the many areas of biology, chemistry or physics. Ideally they will also have prior research experience. Rather than relying on inflexible admissions criteria, we are searching for applicants who we believe can flourish in the program.

Top domestic candidates will be invited for an on-campus interview and applicants outside the United States may be offered Skype interviews (see On Campus Recruiting Weekends). Final admission decision will be made after the interviews.

Tuition, fees and funding for incoming graduate students in the Field of Biophysics are usually borne by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through a Training Grant in Molecular Biophysics. Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible for NIH support. Individual fellowships and research and teaching assistantships are also available.

Application Requirements: Applicants are judged on both academic credentials (GPAs, GRE scores), the statement of purpose and especially on letters of recommendation. The following items are required by the Biophysics program:

  • Current transcripts for all colleges attended should be uploaded into the application (Note: Official transcripts are not required at time of application).
  • Official GRE scores: Scores should be sent from ETS to Cornell University, university code #2098 (department code is not required). We highly encourage applicants to self-report scores if they are known; the admissions committee can use these scores for evaluation prior to receipt of official scores.
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
  • English Language Proficiency: TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) for applicants whose native language is not English. This is a university requirement and the Graduate School has set minimum scores for each section of the test: Reading - 20; Writing - 20; Listening - 15; Speaking - 22. To be considered for admission, an applicant must receive at least the minimum score on each individual section of the test. Those taking the IELTS tests must score 7.0 or higher. Official scores should be sent from ETS to Cornell University, university code #2098 (department code is not required).
    Those taking the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test must score 7.0 or higher. Direct the IELTS test center to send electronic scores to Cornell University Graduate Admission at 143 Caldwell Hall; paper score sheets cannot be accepted.
    Applicants should self-report their scores in the application if possible; these scores can be used for evaluation prior to the official scores being received.
    Please Note: Applicants should self-report their scores in the application if possible; these scores can be used for evaluation prior to the official scores being received.
  • Advanced Subject Test (generally in the areas of Physics, Chemistry or Biochemistry, Molecular & Cell Biology) is highly recommended to assist the Admissions Committee in assessing the applicant's background knowledge but is not required.

Application Fee Waivers: The Cornell Graduate School will consider requests for fee-waivers for applicants who are experiencing financial hardship and also applicants who have participated in specific pipeline programs. More information on application fee waivers can be found on the application fee portion of the Graduate School web site. Please note: the Field of Biophysics cannot issue fee waivers.

Diversity & Inclusion

Cornell University and the Graduate School are committed to providing an inclusive environment for all Cornell students. The Field of Biophysics strongly supports this mission and, as a result, our graduate student community is a vibrant and diverse one. Biophysics students come from all areas of the globe and all walks of life. We are committed to the equality of educational opportunity and success for all students. The Field actively seeks individuals from underrepresented ethnic groups and participate in many programs on campus to recruit and retain under-represented minorities and diversity students (including first-generation college students).

We are committed to the equality of educational opportunity and success for all students, including students with disabilities, who are encouraged to apply. To this end, we have established a partnership with the Cornell University Student Disability Services Office.