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MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) is a unique collaboration between UTHealth Houston and MD Anderson Cancer Center. This synergistic partnership provides students with unparalleled access to modern facilities, world-class faculty and unlimited prospects for research in the biomedical sciences.


Admissions Requirements

  • What factors are considered in admissions decisions?

    Applications are reviewed holistically and the GSBS Admissions Committee considers the following factors in evaluating applicants for admission:

    • previous research experience and accomplishments including, enrollment in laboratory and research-based courses, and involvement in research projects and publications
    • expressed commitment to a career involving biomedical research
    • success in undergraduate courses in the biological and physical sciences and mathematics as evidenced in your grade point average (GPA)
    • degree of difficulty of undergraduate academic program
    • previous graduate-level study
    • honors and awards for academic achievement
    • For international applicants, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • What is the minimum GPA required to apply?

    While there is no minimum GPA to apply or be admitted, applicants are expected to have a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a scale of 4.0 on all undergraduate and graduate level work taken previously. For applicants offered admission to the PhD program for Fall 2023, the average GPA was 3.68.

  • Are GRE scores required to apply?

    The General GRE exam is no longer required or recommended for applicants of GSBS programs.

  • What are the prerequisite courses required to apply?

    Your undergraduate coursework should provide you with a strong background in the area related to your research interests. Recommended undergraduate coursework to prepare a PhD applicant for graduate studies includes basic courses in biology, physics, calculus and biochemistry.

    The Quantitative Sciences program has additional recommended coursework for applicants interested in joining their program.

  • Will you accept the IELTS instead of the TOEFL?

    No, the iBT TOEFL test is required for international applicants.

  • What are the minimum TOEFL scores required for international applicants?

    While there is no minimum TOEFL score to apply, applicants are expected to score at least a 95 on the internet-based exam.  

  • Under what circumstances may I waive the TOEFL requirement?

    International applicants who have, or will have prior to matriculation, received a diploma from a university at which English is the language of instruction, are not required to take the TOEFL exam. There is a question on Part 2 of the form to indicate the language of instruction from a previous institution is English. In addition, for English-speaking universities outside of the US, evidence that indicates the language of instruction will need to be provided with the transcript, such as a letter from the university on official letterhead, or a statement attesting to this on the institutional transcript itself.

Admissions Interviews and Enrollment

  • Do you require interviews?

    Yes, personal interviews are required for applicants prior to a final admissions decision for PhD and SMS applicants. Interview invitations are sent by email between mid-December and mid-February. Visitation/Interview weekends will be held in-person, more information will be posted in early spring 2024.

  • When will I be notified regarding interviews?

    Invitations to interview are sent throughout the cycle. PhD applicant should expect to be notified by email regarding interviews by mid-February. 

  • Do you admit new students every semester?

    Applications are reviewed once a year for admission with enrollment in the Fall semester only.

  • Do I need to select a faculty advisor at the time of application?

    Applicants are not required to select a faculty advisor at the time of application. PhD students complete three tutorial research rotations before joining a lab in their second year of study.

  • If I have a master's degree, will I need to start over?

    If you have obtained an MS degree from GSBS, courses you have taken for your MS program may be applied to your PhD degree. However, research you performed as an MS student cannot be used in your PhD dissertation. It is possible to use your MS work as the basis for your PhD work.

    Students who have obtained an MS degree from another school are strongly encouraged to take our core course, Foundations of Biomedical Research, to satisfy the GSBS breadth requirement. Requests to waive the requirement on the basis of previous graduate-level coursework must be approved by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. Prior research may not be utilized in your PhD dissertation, but your MS work may be used as the basis for your PhD dissertation.

  • Can I transfer into your graduate school from the graduate school I currently attend?

    No, we do not accept transfer students. You will need to apply for our degree programs in order to be considered for admission. 

  • Do you have a part-time PhD Program?

    No, we do not offer a part time-Ph.D. program. 


  • What if my recommender does not have an institutional letterhead or an institutional email address?

    If a recommender does not have an institutional letterhead or institutional email address, they should submit a signed letter. In addition, the recommender should send a copy of the letter of recommendation to the Office of Admissions and explain in an email why the institutional letterhead could not be included.

  • What are the application deadlines?

    The deadline for the PhD program and specialized MS programs in Genetic Counseling and Medical Physics is December 1. All materials, including letters of recommendation, must be received by the deadline. Early applications are encouraged.

    The deadline for applications to the MS degree program in Biomedical Sciences is April 1.

  • What if my letters of recommendation are not ready by the deadline?

    Please submit your application without the letters of recommendation. If you are unable to meet the deadline or letter requirements, reach out to the Office of Admissions for instructions. All letters of recommendation must be received for your application to be complete. If your recommender has a legitimate reason for submitting late, this request must be approved by the GSBS Admissions Office before the deadline.

  • How long are my TOEFL scores valid?

    TOEFL scores are valid two years from the date the test was taken. If scores will expire before the Fall 2023 semester, please have official scores sent from ETS to The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) registrar's office using institution code 6907. No department code is necessary.

  • Are official transcripts and score reports required to apply?

    For the purpose of application review and processing, we do not require that applicants send official transcripts and/or score reports to the institution. Unofficial copies of transcripts and score reports should be uploaded online with application. We will contact you directly if official documents are needed.

  • What is the GSBS ETS institution code to send TOEFL scores?

    The institution code for The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UT Health) is 6907; no department code is necessary. For the purpose of application review and processing, only unofficial scores uploaded online with the application are required. No official scores are required to be sent until after an offer of admission has been made.

  • I attended a foreign university, how should I report my grades?

    Scores and grades should be translated and converted to a 4.0 scale. A transcript grade key should be included with your transcripts, if one is available.

  • How do I convert my GPA to a 4.0 scale?

    Applicants should convert their GPA to a 4.0 scale using an online GPA calculator like the one found on the World Education Services site.

  • What type of payments do you accept for the application fee?

    You can pay by credit or debit card through our online application system. If you do not have a credit or debit card, please contact the Office of Admissions

  • What is your application fee waiver policy?

    Please contact the Office of Admissions to request a fee waiver.

  • How do I check the status of my submitted application?

    You will receive an email from Embark confirming that your application was received. The GSBS Admissions Office checks each application for all required materials and will contact you if any required information is missing. Your application will not be considered complete until all required materials, including three letters of recommendation, are received. You may log into the Embark system to track receipt of your letters of recommendation. Once all materials have been received, you will receive an email from the Embark application system indicating your application is complete. If you are not receiving emails from Embark, please check your spam folder first and then contact the Office of Admissions.

  • How can I resend the link to my recommender to submit my letter of recommendation?

    Each recommender should receive an email from Embark Team asking him/her to complete an online recommendation for the applicant. If the recommender has not received the email, please log in to your Embark account and select Recommenders from the left-hand menu and click button marked "Resend Invitation." If the letter writer still does not receive the email, you can try deleting the recommender and re-registering them in the system. Further support is provided by the online application vendor, Embark, by contacting them directly via email at [email protected].

  • How can I track my letters of recommendation?

    You will receive an email to your registered account each time a recommender submits a letter.  You may also track the status in your Embark account. Log in and select Recommenders from the left-hand menu. Under the recommender email address will be listed one of three statuses:

    • Invitation Sent – An email has been sent to the email address of your recommender requesting a letter on your behalf with a link to submit a recommendation.
    • Opened – Your recommender has clicked the link to open the recommendation form.
    • Submitted – A letter of recommendation has been submitted on your behalf.
  • Who should I contact if I am experiencing technical issues with my online application?

    If you are experiencing technical issues with the online application, please contact Embark Support directly, via email at [email protected].


  • How can I get an assistantship?

    All PhD students receive a graduate research assistantship. PhD students receive GSBS funding to cover their assistantship. For the 2023-2024 academic year, the GSBS assistantship includes a $36,000 per annum stipend, payment of the student's tuition and fees and health insurance coverage. After the GSBS funded assistantship ends, students are paid by their faculty mentor. More information may be found by visiting the Financial Assistance section.

  • How can I get an assistantship if I am seeking a MS degree?

    Financial support is not offered to MS candidates by the graduate school. Students admitted to our MS programs in Genetic Counseling and Medical Physics are not guaranteed an assistantship and should prepare to be self-funded throughout their education. Students enrolling in the MS Program in Biomedical Sciences will be supported by a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) by their faculty advisor once they join a lab, unless they choose to waive the GRA. The GRA includes an annual stipend of $24,000-$32,000, health insurance, and sponsorship of tuition and fees.

  • Is the stipend enough to cover my living expenses?

    Based on nation-wide comparisons, the stipend offered by GSBS is very competitive. The cost of living in Houston is one of the lowest in the US. Thus, it is certainly possible to live on this stipend. Most of our current students find that they are able to pay for an apartment, groceries and car insurance without needing to take out loans.

  • Are international students guaranteed full financial support?

    We offer financial support to all PhD students who are admitted to GSBS. This award includes a yearly stipend of $36,000. In addition, tuition, fees and health benefits are covered.

Contact Us

I have reviewed this FAQ and still have questions

Please email the GSBS Office of Admissions at [email protected].