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Division of Biology

Frequently asked questions for graduate applicants

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 highly encourage prospective students to contact faculty to find out about research opportunities, it is important to understand that final decisions for admission are made by the GAC, not by individual faculty members with whom you might work. The committee's purpose is to select the best students from the applicant pool.

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. We expect you will devote your full time and attention to your graduate education and research, and we offer financial support at a level consistent with that expectation.

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


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


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. It is the responsibility of GAC to nominate the best applicants from among the application pool for these scholarships. Awardees will be notified with their offer letter. Note that only U.S. citizens are eligible for the Donoghue Scholarships.

What benefits are GTAs/GRAs eligible for?

See Financial Information.

How many applications do you receive?

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

How many admissions do you make?

That ranges between 15 and 25 admissions each year (Fall + Spring), depending on fluctuations in grant support for our research faculty.

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 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 [add link to grad school] page for additional details.

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

Our preference is for applicants with a degree in biology or other life science degrees, however we will consider applicants with other relevant degrees. An applicant without a degree in the life sciences should at least have taken several biology courses and 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 admission?

For full consideration, completed applications should be submitted by December 15 for Fall admission and August 1 for spring admission. We will generally begin reviewing the applications soon after those dates.

 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.

What should be included in the recommendation letters?

We look at recommendation letters for information that we cannot get from transcripts or standardized test scores.  We want to know, for instance, whether you are creative, can communicate well, work hard, and work well with others.  We want to know whether you take 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 to other students at the same career stage.  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 given 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 letters should be submitted electronically. Recommendation letters should be printed on the letterhead of the recommender's institution and include an original signature.

Do my transcripts have to be in some specific format?

You need to submit certified 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.

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. Application fees are waived for any student applicant who has participated in an undergraduate research program at K-State, including the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) or Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (SUROP)

How should I pay the fee?

Several methods are available, including online payment by credit card.  Please see the Graduate School's FAQ for complete information.

Have you received my application materials?

You will be contacted when your application is complete. But you may check the status of your application by sending an e-mail to melbruce@k-state.edu.

Is your office open during winter break?

The University typically is 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 graduate students in the Division of Biology are required to assist with teaching in undergraduate classes; you thus will need good English communication skills to be successful in that responsibility. Your graduate classes will be conducted in English, and because many graduate classes feature discussions between students and the instructor, good English communication skills are essential for success in your classes. 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 Division of Biology 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 submitting test scores to K-State 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?

No. Official scores must be submitted to KSU by ETS.

Is there a minimum TOEFL or IELTS to be accepted?

TOEFL Internet Based Score - 100 (needs a score of 22 on the Speak Test)
TOEFL Computer Based Score - 250
TOEFL Paper Based Score - 600
IELTS - 7.0 (only good for 2 years)

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. 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 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 Division of Biology.

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

We have a graduate recruitment event each February, where applicants ranked highly by the Graduate Affairs Committee are brought to the Division of Biology for a two-day visit.  The Graduate Recruitment Committee is responsible for planning this event and extending invitations to applicants.  Graduate students applying for spring admission are welcome to visit individually. Contact Melissa Bruce, melbruce@k-state.edu for additional details.