Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who makes the decisions regarding admission to the graduate program?

The Graduate Affairs Committee (GAC) is responsible for these decisions, and their decisions must be approved by the Director of the Division of Biology and then by the Graduate School.  So, while we encourage prospective students to contact faculty to find out about research opportunities, it is important for prospective students to understand that the final decision for admission is made by the GAC, not by individual faculty members.  The committee's purpose is to select the best students from the applicant pool.  As you can imagine, comparing the applications of students from around the world is a difficult task since every country, sometimes every school, uses a slightly different system, has different standards, etc.  Further, we can only make our decision based on what is sent to us in the application.   So, to give yourself the best chance of acceptance, make sure your application is complete.  We are happy to help you prepare the best application you can, so contact us ( with any questions.

What kind of financial support can I expect?

You will receive full financial support (tuition and stipend sufficient for living in Manhattan) if you are admitted. The exact amounts change regularly with increases in tuition and cost of living; please see here for up-to-date information. We expect that you will devote your full time and attention to your graduate education and research, and we offer financial support at a level where you will be able to do that.

Do you offer financial support to those applying for an M.S.?

Yes. As noted above, all admitted students, regardless of the degree program to which they are admitted, will be fully supported.

Do you have separate admission quotes for foreign and domestic students?

No. As noted above, we strive to admit the best qualified students to our program, and are not constrained by artificial limits for foreign or domestic applicants.

Are there any scholarships or fellowships available?

There are a limited number of University-sponsored Timothy R. Donoghue Scholarships available to incoming graduates of U.S. colleges or universities.  These scholarships provide a substantial financial supplement and can be held up to two years.  You do not apply directly for these scholarships, rather the Selection Committee will select the best candidates from among the application pool.  Awardees will be notified with their offer letter.  Note that only U.S. citizens are eligible.

What benefits are GTAs/GRAs eligible for?

A brochure describing the plan provisions and an enrollment form (including premium rates) are available from the Division of Human Resources website at or at 103 Edwards Hall.

How many applications do you receive?

We typically receive an average of about 100-120 applications each year for fall admission, and 20-40 for spring admission. 

How many admissions do you make?

That ranges between 15 to 25 admissions each year, depending on fluctuations in grant support for our research faculty.

How many students do you enroll?

We will typically enroll 10-20 students each fall, and 2-4 in the spring.

What is the minimum grade point average (GPA) required to be admitted into your program?

During the last 60 hours of your coursework, you must have maintained a B average or its equivalent (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) in order to qualify for regular admission. If your GPA is lower than that, you can be admitted on probationary status. See the Graduate School Admission Requirements page for additional details.

Can I apply if my BS degree is not in Biology?

We will consider an applicant whose degree is not in biology, but our preference is for those with biology or other life science degrees.  An applicant whose degree is not in the life sciences should have at least taken several biology courses or courses with equivalent content.  An applicant without a degree in the life sciences should stand out in other respects in order to have the best chance of acceptance, and the applicant should address this issue in their Statement of Personal Experiences and Goals.

What is the deadline to apply for fall admission?

For full consideration, completed applications should be submitted to us by December 15. For spring admission, completed applications should be submitted by August 1. We will generally begin reviewing the applications soon after those dates. Depending on the number of applicants in the pool, we usually are in a position to make admission offers within 6-8 weeks after these deadlines.

What do you want in my Statement of Objectives?

We are looking for a statement about your goals for your graduate education.  We would also like to know why you want to continue your studies in graduate school and what your plans are afterward.  This statement is a good place to describe any specific research interests you have and how they might mesh with the research opportunities in our department.  If you have relevant experience that does not appear in other parts of your application, the statement is a good place to describe them, too.  In total, you should try to keep your statement to roughly one page.

I do not have my Bachelor's diploma yet.  What do I do?

The Graduate School requires original transcripts showing your completed Bachelor's degree and the original diploma before you can be officially admitted.  You can, however, bring them with you when you come to K-State.  The Graduate School will then make a copy of them for their records.

Do you accept a copy of the GRE score?

Yes, we do.

Is there a minimum GRE score to be accepted?

The KSU Biology program does not have a numerical cut-off for GRE performance. We have found that GRE scores are not a good sole predictor for success in graduate school, i.e. some students with excellent GRE scores do not perform well in graduate research, and others with marginal GRE scores turn out to be excellent researchers. For that reason we do not have a minimum required score for the GRE, but merely use the GRE score as one parameter in our admission decisions.) But a low GRE score must obviously be accompanied by other strong proof of your knowledge and preparation for graduate work.

What should be included in the recommendation letters?

We look at recommendation letters for information that we cannot get from transcripts or scores.  We want to know, for instance, whether you are creative, can communicate well both in English and scientifically, work hard, and work well with others.  We want to know whether you take the initiative on projects and whether you go beyond the minimum requirements.  We want to know whether the recommender believes you have the necessary skills to succeed in the demanding environment of graduate school and beyond.  The best information is comparative.  That is, how you compare in each of these categories to other students at the same stage of their career.  Your recommenders should also include a brief description of how they know you and how many students at your stage they can compare you with in their experience.  Specific examples are, of course, much better than general statements, and anecdotes can also be useful.  Any other information your recommender cares to share is certainly welcome as well.

Are there special forms for recommendation letters?

No, there are no special forms, but they should be printed on the letterhead of the recommender's institution if available and include an original signature. These are uploaded by the recommender.

Do my transcripts have to be in some specific format?

You need to upload copies of your transcripts both in English and your native language (for international students) of all degrees received along with copies of your graduation certificate/diploma.  Specialists in the graduate school will evaluate these official transcripts. We do not need high school transcripts.

I am a student with limited financial resources. Can the application fee be waived for me?

We do appreciate your financial situation, but unfortunately we have little flexibility with this requirement of the KSU Graduate School. 

How should I pay the fee?

Through the online application process.  Check the Graduate School's FAQ for complete information.

Is your office open during Christmas break?

The University is typically closed from December 24 through January 1, but is otherwise open Monday through Friday, 8 AM - 5 PM.

Why does K-State require English Proficiency (via TOEFL or IELTS) for graduate admission?

All of our graduate students are required to assist with teaching in our undergraduate classes; you will need good English communication skills to be successful in that responsibility. Your graduate classes will be conducted in English, and since many graduate classes feature discussions between the students and with the instructor, good English communication skills are needed for success in your classes as well. Finally,, your professional success in science demands that you be able to communicate results to others in spoken and written English. For these reasons, the K-State Biology Division seldom relaxes the TOEFL requirement. TOEFL scores are only valid for two years, so we cannot accept TOEFL scores older than two years.  The University Code for testing is 6334.

Is there any circumstance under which the TOEFL or IELTS can be waived?

Yes, if you are an international student who has received a degree from a U.S. institution.

Do you accept copies of TOEFL or IELTS scores?

Official scores will need to be submitted to KSU by ETS.

Is there a minimum TOEFL or IELTS to be accepted?

See link.

I am a foreign student. Do I need to submit an "Affidavit of Financial Support Form" if I'm applying for an assistantship?

Yes, even if you are applying for an assistantship, you need to sign Section I of the form and upload to Graduate School website. The University will not admit you without this signed form (original signature—no copies accepted).

I am a foreign student and want to bring my spouse/children, what do I need to do?

You will need to provide evidence that you have financial support for each dependent you bring by filling out all three sections (mandatory) of the "Affidavit of Financial Support" form (original signature required—no copies accepted).

Can I come to K-State the summer before I begin graduate study to get a head start on research?

In many cases arrangements can be made with a K-State research group and the Department to provide support. Your chances will be especially good if you know who you want to work with and what you want to work on.

Can I visit K-State to see if it's the right place for me?

We have some opportunities for highly-qualified US-based applicants to visit KSU, primarily in the springtime for applicants planning to start graduate work in the fall. Funding is available to defray part or all of the costs for travel and lodging. You will learn more about this possibility after your application is reviewed. Visits at other times of the year are also possible, but funding for such visits may be limited. Contact or Graduate Affairs Committee Chair for additional details.

- Thanks to the KSU Physics Department, whose FAQ provided much of the framework and content for this one.