Frequently Asked Questions


Applications for the upcoming fall admissions period become available in early September each year.

December 5th, 2017 for the PhD program.

January 15th, 2018 for the MA program. Note: For full consideration for the MA program, applications must be received by January 15th. Late MA applications may also be considered if space in the cohort permits.

Yes – we welcome applications from all over the world.

    • Transcripts
    • Three recommendations – We consider letters of recommendation, particularly those from individuals who can address your research experience and aptitude, a very important part of your application.
    • Personal statement/statement of purpose – A thoughtful personal statement is important and should include information on your motivation for attending graduate school, any research interests you have, and your prior research experience.
    • Curriculum Vitae
    • Official GRE General Test score report
    • GRE Subject Test [Optional]: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology (discontinued, although scores up to 2016 can be submitted.)
    • Additional requirements for international students – Information for international students on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and other requirements is available on the GRS Academic Admissions page and on the International Student Applicant page.

MCBB does not have a minimum GRE score or minimum GPA for admission. We consider the full application when reviewing applicants.

Yes, the minimum scores are strictly enforced by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Your most recent test scores will be used to determine if you have met the English proficiency requirements. You cannot combine sections from different test dates and you must meet the minimum score for every section of the test to be considered for admission. The minimum score requirements for the TOEFL are below.
paper-based test: 550
internet-based test
Reading section – 21
Listening section – 21
Speaking section – 21
Writing section – 21

In addition to the TOEFL, the IELTS is also accepted as proof of English proficiency. The band score of 7.0 is required for admission.

All applications must be complete by the deadline; any application materials received after the deadline may not be reviewed by the program.

  • PhD applicants – Generally, we do not accept applications for submission after the deadline has passed.
  • MA applicants – For full consideration, applications must be received by January 15. Late applications may also be considered if space in the cohort permits. Please contact Christina Honeycutt at to find out if your application can still be submitted.

Generally, the program does not accept new students for the spring semester.

Applicants to the MA or PhD programs must have completed a bachelor’s degree. A MA degree is not needed to apply to our PhD program. You do not need a specific degree, but you do need to have a strong background in organic and inorganic chemistry, cell biology and/or genetics, physics, and calculus. Statistics would also be useful. Prior research experience will also make your application more competitive.

Some BU courses may be available for non-degree students if you would like to take courses before applying. Please contact Christina Honeycutt ( for more information.

Students who apply to our PhD program with a Master’s Degree may have an opportunity to transfer credits towards the program. Admission into the program is competitive and we favor applications with both strong academic records and a demonstrated aptitude for research.

Yes, it is recommended that you contact one or more faculty with whom you might wish to work. The program requires laboratory rotations during which students can explore their interests, but it is often useful to contact a faculty member. We do not provide a list of faculty members who are currently seeking graduate students.


Yes, prospective applicants can contact the Graduate Program Specialist, Christina Honeycutt, or any faculty member with whom you may wish to work, to schedule a time to visit. The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences does not offer tours of the campus however, prospective students can sign-up for tours with undergraduate admissions.

PhD applicants: Selected applicants currently in the continental US will be invited to visit the campus for “Recruitment Weekend” in late February for individual interviews with faculty and to learn more about Boston University, the surrounding area, and to meet with many of the faculty and current students within the program. Admission decisions are usually sent out the week following this visit to campus (early March). Selected applicants outside the continental US and internationally may be contacted in early March for Skype Interviews with faculty members and can expect to receive admission decisions in mid-March.

MA applicants: Admissions decisions are usually sent out in mid-March.


Tuition and mandatory fees for the current academic year can be found on the GRS website.

MCBB guarantees academic year support for five years for all PhD students, contingent on satisfactory performance in the program. This includes tuition, a stipend, and health insurance. You can learn more about the different fellowships that are offered on the GRS website.

MCBB does not guarantee financial support for MA students. Some resources are available on the GRS website for MA students seeking financial aid.


The biggest difference is that the MCBB Program is interdisciplinary. This means that we have faculty from the Health Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Biomedical Engineering Programs. You have a broader range of research opportunities to choose from for your degree.

MA students must complete the degree within three years though most of our students complete this within 2 years. PhD students must complete the degree within seven years though most of our students complete this within 5-6 years.

MA students can transfer a maximum of 8 credits from other universities. PhD students can transfer a maximum of 32 credits. The courses need to be graduate-level courses. Your coursework would be reviewed by faculty to determine what is appropriate to transfer based on the program and what credits you would still need to take moving forward. This could certainly decrease the time to degree but PhD and MA-Research students would still need to complete research credits and the length of time for completion can be different depending on the research projects that you take on and the progress of your dissertation/thesis. More information about the transfer of credit policy can be found online:

Course requirement information for MA students can be found here:

Course requirement information for PhD students can be found here:

The program requires a minimum of two semesters of teaching during a student’s graduate career as part of the PhD program. During the first semester of teaching, students are required to enroll in our first-year seminar course, GRS MB 697 A Bridge to Knowledge. The course provides guidance and training on pedagogy and other aspects of graduate school.

MA students are not required to teach but there are sometimes opportunities for MA students to teach if interested.

It is possible to take classes part time if you are in the Master’s Program or if you want to take a class or two before officially enrolling in the program. However, we do not typically offer evening courses, so if you have a full time job and are interested in taking one or two courses, this may not be a good fit for you. The PhD Program is a full time program.