electronic equipment in one of the labs

The Biological Sciences Graduate Program utilizes a rolling admissions process by which applications are evaluated as they are received. However, applicants are strongly encouraged to adhere to the following deadlines:

Fall applicants (mid-August start date): December 10

Spring applicants (mid-January start date): June 1

This will ensure that potential students can be considered for all available graduate assistantships. Note that University of Alabama Graduate School fellowships are only available to students applying for fall admission. Students may begin study in the spring semester, although availability of financial support is limited. Some exceptions to these deadlines may occur on a case-by-case basis; however, international students require at least a 6-month lead time to obtain appropriate visas. The department does not admit new students in summer terms, except under very exceptional circumstances. 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 go on to have successful careers in science. The application should contain information that allows us to judge the applicant’s academic and research potential and determine whether a suitable match exists with potential faculty mentors.

Please Note: Prospective applicants for the M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs must 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.

Degrees Offered

Marine Science, MS – The Master of Science (MS) in Marine Science (also referred to as Master of Marine Science; MMS) 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, PhDThe PhD 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.


Application materials should be submitted online via the University of Alabama Graduate School application portal. The application consists of:

  • 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.
  • Applicant Data Sheet.
  • 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.


Frequently Asked Questions

Based on my GPA, am I eligible for your graduate program?

Our criteria is GPA 3.0/4.0 minimum. We understand that some international applicants may have been evaluated on a different scale. Our international office will translate your transcripts when you apply.

Do I need a degree in Biology to gain admission to your program?

No. Students may have degrees in Ecology, Environmental Science, or other related field. Requirements vary depending on the faculty advisor.

Do I need to take the GRE?


Do I need to take the TOEFL if my undergraduate studies were in English?

No. See the international student requirements here: https://graduate.ua.edu/prospective-students/international admissions/

Do you grant admission fee waivers?

We regret that our department cannot grant waivers.

Will I be guaranteed funding through graduate assistantship (TA/RA) and how do I apply?

There is no funding mechanism for MA students. Funding is often available for MS, MMS, and PhD students, but it is dependent on the faculty advisor. You must obtain the support of a faculty advisor in order to be admitted into the MS, MMS, or PhD graduate program with funding. Your advisor may have research (RA) funding, or may have access to TA (teaching assistantship) funding. Talk to potential advisors in the BSC Faculty to find out what kind of funding might be available for your particular situation.

Do I have to apply separately for funding as a graduate research assistantship (RA) or teaching assistantship (TA)?

No. Applicants are automatically considered for funding opportunities when they apply for the program. We generally do not accept unfunded students into or MS, MMS, and PhD programs, while there is no funding mechanism for MA students.

Do I need to secure the support of an advisor before admission is granted?

For our MA program, an advisor is not needed prior to admission. However, for MS, MMS, and PhD programs, YES! We do not admit MS/MMS/PhD students without an advisor already identified.

Where do I find out about potential advisors?

Visit our research pages at: https://bsc.ua.edu/research/research-overview/. Please email potential advisors who are doing research in your area of interest. Please only email those whose research matches your desired area of study. Note that many faculty advisors may not have space in their lab for a particular start term, and we regret that some students may be unable to find appropriate advisors.

How long should my personal statement be?

1-3 pages

Do international students need to have their transcripts evaluated through WES?

No. Your transcripts are evaluated by our international office during the application process.

Can the department evaluate my international transcripts prior to applying?

No. We do not have the expertise to evaluate international transcripts. This must be done by our international office during the application process.

Do I need to have official copies of transcripts for admission?

Unofficial transcripts are acceptable for applying. After admission you will be required to submit official copies.

What are the general deadlines for applications in order to be considered for Financial Aid/Assistantships?

We have a rolling admissions process. If your potential faculty advisor has the potential for TA funding, please submit applications by December 1 for the following fall (August) admission, and by June 1 for the following spring (January) admission.

Do you accept applications for both Spring and Fall academic terms? Which is given priority in terms of Financial Aid/Assistantships?

This is dependent on funding availability. Generally, there are more TAships available for fall applicants. Also, the UA Graduate School only awards internal fellowships (e.g., Graduate Council Fellowship, National Alumni Awards) to applicants applying to start in fall academic terms.

How long does it take to process my application, and when will I hear if I’ve been admitted?

Our department has a rolling admission policy. We meet monthly but also respond to funding and budgeting allocations from our institution and faculty. Most decisions are made by March for fall admissions.

What is the latest date you will admit students?

For domestic students, we are often able to admit students up until August 1 (fall) or December 15 (spring), but this is highly unusual. For international students, visa processing requires a minimum of 4 months – but often much longer, and these are considered on a case by case basis. In general, we do not admit international students beyond March 1 (fall) and July 1 (spring).