electronic equipment in one of the labsThe Biological Sciences Graduate Program utilizes a rolling admissions process by which applications are evaluated as they are received. However, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply by December 10th prior to the fall semester in which studies are to begin in order to be considered for all available graduate assistantships and fellowships. Students may also be admitted to begin study in the spring semester, although availability of financial support is limited. All applications are initiated through the new University of Alabama Graduate School application portal. Following review by the Graduate School, applications meeting the minimum criteria are referred to the department admissions committee for further consideration.

The goal of the admission process is to identify students who will thrive in the program and continue to successful research and/or teaching careers. The application should contain information that allows us to judge the applicant’s academic and research potential, and that allows us to determine whether a suitable match exists with potential faculty mentors.

Please Note: Prospective applicants for the M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs are strongly encouraged to contact one or more faculty members prior to the application process to discuss their research interests and to determine whether space is available in the research group. Most successful applicants will have established a mutual interest with a faculty member who is willing to serve as the student’s research advisor and in whose lab the student will conduct his/her research.

To learn about faculty-specific research interests and for faculty contact information visit the departmental Faculty Directory.

Questions about the graduate program and the application process can be directed to Kimberly Tsoukalas (krandall1@ua.edu).

Degrees Offered

Marine Science, MMS – The Master of Science (MMS) in Marine Science is a research-intensive degree designed to prepare students for careers in marine science or further training in preparation for pursuing a Ph.D. in the biological or marine sciences. Students are required to conduct their own independent research while participating in either the Plan I (with thesis) or Plan II (without thesis) degree tracks leading to the MS in Marine Science.
Biology, MS – The Master of Sciences (MS) in Biological Sciences is a research-intensive degree designed to prepare students for careers in the life sciences or further training in preparation for pursuing a Ph.D. in the biological sciences. Students are required to conduct their own independent research while participating in either the Plan I (with thesis) or Plan II (without thesis) degree tracks leading to the MS in Biological Sciences.
Biological Sciences, MA The Master of Arts (MA) in Biological Sciences is a coursework only degree designed for individuals who wish to enhance their knowledge of foundational concepts in Biological Sciences and gain practical hands-on training in controlled laboratory exercises, data analysis, and presentation as well as scientific-pedagogical practices. This degree does not require the traditional intensive commitment to data-driven research that is the hallmark of the Master of Science (MS) degree in Biology.
Biology, Ph.D.The Ph.D. program is an intensive, research-based curriculum that builds on the strengths of the master’s degree program by concentrating on a particular research emphasis led by one of our many diverse faculty members. The doctoral program is designed to prepare graduates with the skills needed to move easily into either academic or non-academic positions.
Accelerated Masters Program (AMP) – The Accelerated Master’s Program is intended for gifted and highly motivated candidates for bachelor’s degrees at The University of Alabama. In the Biological Sciences AMP program, students apply to begin graduate study in their senior year. Although AMP students will typically complete the requirements for the bachelor’s degree prior to the graduate degree, such a program may lead to simultaneous completion of requirements for both graduate and bachelor’s degrees.


The application consists of:

  • Applicant Data Sheet.
  • Correspondence with a Faculty Member. Applicants are expected to contact one (or more) faculty member to introduce themselves, explain their interest in that faculty member’s research program, describe their short-term and long-term professional goals, and explain why they feel graduate study in our department and that faculty member’s lab are well-suited to those goals. Applications will not be considered complete without an interview with a prospective advisor.
  • The Statement of Purpose. The Statement of Purpose is an important part of the application, and should be carefully written to describe:
    • Your background in biological sciences, and how these experiences, interests, activities and/or achievements have helped shape your interest in graduate work
    • One short-term and one long-term goal.
    • Why biological sciences is the discipline you think can help you achieve those.
    • Why our department and its faculty are suited to train you toward those goals (indicating that you are familiar with our department and graduate program).
    • Faculty member(s) you think could serve as a good mentor for you and why (you should have already contacted that/those faculty members to express interest in their research program and, ideally, have been encouraged by them to apply).
    • What contribution you think you will make to our department, university, and/or Biological Sciences.
  • Transcripts from previous institution(s). A minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4-point scale is required for unconditional admission to the Biological Sciences Graduate Program.
  • TOEFL score, if English is not the applicant’s native language. International applicants must earn a TOEFL iBT score of ≥80 (or equivalent IELTS score of 6.5). Students requiring financial support as Graduate Teaching Assistants must have a TOEFL iBT speaking subtest score of 21 or higher. The University of Alabama GRE/TOEFL code is 1830. More information regarding international applicants and requirements may be found at the Graduate Schools International Admissions page.
  • Three letters of recommendation, provided by faculty members who have direct knowledge of and can comment on the applicant’s academic and research potential. Letters from friends, employers for non-laboratory jobs, clergy, etc. are usually not helpful. All letters of recommendation must be submitted online via the Graduate School’s document processing website. A link to this website is provided via email to references listed on the application.

All of the above application materials should be submitted online via the University of Alabama Graduate School application portal.

See this document for frequently asked questions and answers.