Application Process

Application Process

To apply for the Biology PhD program, you will use the MIT online application system

Interdisciplinary and Joint Degree Programs

Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

This interdisciplinary program allows Biology graduate students to explore and join labs at the forefront of molecular and cellular neuroscience research. This includes labs in the Biology Department as well as additional labs doing cutting-edge neuroscience research at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Learn more

Joint MD/PhD Program

The joint MD/PhD program is designed for students interested in pursuing training in both medicine and research. Typically, our students pursue their MD at Harvard Medical School; however, we welcome applicants from other programs. Students apply for the PhD program in the fall of their second year of medical school and spend an average of eight years completing both programs. To apply, use the Biology PhD online application and observe the same deadlines. Harvard HST MD/PhD applicants identify a research group prior to applying, and should include a letter from their prospective advisor. Harvard Pathways applicants should describe any steps they have taken to identify a possible thesis laboratory in our program.

Biophysics Certificate Program

Students pursuing a PhD in Biology and simultaneously earn a certificate in biophysics by completing a distribution of coursework. The MIT Biophysics community hosts regular seminars and an annual retreat that brings together students, postdocs and faculty who share common scientific interests.

Joint Program with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The joint MIT/WHOI program has a separate application process that can be completed online. To be considered for the Biology graduate program independently of the MIT/WHOI Joint Program, you should complete both online applications. Please note that this program has different application deadlines.

Application timeline

Deadline Date
Online application opens October 1
Application Deadline December 1
Interview invitations sent via email Mid-January
Open House / Interview Dates (by invitation) February 7 – 10, 2020
February 21 – 24, 2020
March 6 – 9, 2020
Admissions decisions sent Following interviews

Application requirements

Application for admission is completed through our online system GradApply. For fullest consideration, it is in your best interest to complete all parts of the application by or before the deadline. Incomplete applications may not be reviewed. A complete application should include:

Things to note 

  • If you are applying to more than one department at MIT, you must submit a separate application for each department.
  • CVs can be included in your online application in the “Test Scores / Experience” section.
  • Wherever possible, use the provided drop-down menu options to ensure that your information is submitted correctly.
  • Email will be the primary method of contacting you. Do not change your email address once you have submitted your application, as this will result in a record mismatch.

In-person interviews

In-person interviews are required for an offer of admission to the Biology program. Invitations will be sent out to selected applicants by email in mid-January along with further details about the interview process. The program will cover interview travel expenses, or provide cost-sharing for international students.

Information for international applicants

  • Do not complete the ethnicity section of the online application – only U.S. citizens or U.S. Permanent Residents are requested to complete this section.
  • We cannot waive the application fee for international applicants.

Non-native English speakers

Fluency in spoken and written English is essential for success in our program. We judge fluency in several ways, including scores from standardized tests.

  • Either the IELTS (preferred) or TOEFL test is required of all applicants whose primary language is not English or who did not complete college education in English
  • Test scores: TOEFL (required minimum 600), or IELTS (required minimum 6.5) exams
  • Test scores must be from within the past two years

More information about these tests is available on the MIT Graduate Admissions website.

Students with disabilities

We encourage individuals with disabilities to apply to our program. MIT is committed to equal access for qualified students. Interested students may contact the MIT Student Disabilities Services office to learn about resources on campus.

Questions and concerns

  • Additional information about the application process is available on the Graduate Admissions website.
  • For specific questions about the Biology Graduate Program and the application process, contact us by email ( or phone  (617-258-6502).
  • For technical questions about the online application site, contact

Due to the volume of applications received, we are unable to respond to requests for updated status of application materials received or to provide feedback about unsuccessful applications.

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