BBS PhD Program


Apply NowThe BBS Program accepts applications for PhD study only. Admissions decisions are made on an annual basis; the application deadline is December 1 for admission in the following Fall semester. 

The success of the BBS Program is dependent on the quality of the graduate students enrolled.  We therefore take great care in the selection of potential students: the  BBS Admissions Committee reviews and evaluates all applications. Candidates come from many academic backgrounds. There are no set standards; rather we are searching for applicants who we believe can flourish in the program. Applicants are judged on the entire application package, including academic credentials, the statement of purpose and letters of recommendation. Prior research experience is considered particularly useful; however, it is not a prerequisite. 

Application Requirements

1. Review the Research Areas to identify at least three faculty who are doing research that interests you. You will be asked to identify which faculty member(s) are you potentially interested in working with. It is helpful if you had made contact with potential faculty rotation mentors to see if they are accepting new graduate students. 

2. Choose a concentration that most interests you.

Immunology and Infectious Disease

The concentration of Immunology and Infectious Disease has a substantial cadre of faculty members and students working in the areas of infection and immunity, cellular immunology, immune regulation, immunogenetics, and immunopathology. There are also members currently carrying out studies in the areas of immunotoxicology, membrane biochemistry, developmental immunology, immunoparasitology, and related fields.

Molecular and Cellular Medicine

Molecular and Cellular Medicine faculty and trainees are engaged in investigations of fundamental cellular processes and the mechanisms that control them in health and disease. Research projects range from molecular interactions, protein folding, and membrane biophysics to development and function of organ systems and whole animals. Fundamental research, using cutting-edge technologies, enables researchers at Cornell to make significant advances in broad scientific disciplines such as cell and developmental biology, genetics and genomics, neurobiology, pharmacology, and physiology.

Population Medicine and Epidemiology

Population Medicine and Epidemiology represents the study of health and disease in a population and the underlying factors that lead to these conditions. The goal of this research is to prevent the spread and/or future incidents of illness. As such, it is considered the cornerstone of public health, production medicine, and preventive medicine.

Translational Medicine

Translational medicine seeks to leverage basic science discovery for the development of new therapies that will improve the health of animals and humans. Basic scientists and clinicians partner in drug and biomarker discovery, stem cell and regenerative medicine, and development of imaging technology to tackle problems in reproductive biology, infectious disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other clinically relevant areas.

Zoology and Wildlife Conservation

Zoology and Wildlife Conservation integrates two broad fields of biology: animal biology and conservation biology. Opportunities exist for study and research in comparative and functional anatomy, developmental biology, and comparative and experimental embryology. The survival of threatened and endangered species requires innovative and integrative ideas and approaches to wildlife conservation, and our faculty are those innovators – conservation studies focus on individual animals, species, and ecosystems.

3. Applicants will also choose up to three of the following research areas:

  1. Biochemistry & Cell Biology 
  2. Cancer Biology
  3. Epidemiology
  4. Infection & Immunity 
  5. Medical Genetics & Genomics
  6. Neuroscience
  7. Reproduction Biology
  8. Stem Cell Biology 
  9. Wildlife Conservation

4. Statement of purpose
The Statement of Purpose is an important part of your application, and is your opportunity to tell the admissions committee more about yourself. Feel free to include whatever information you think the committee should know about you and why you are applying to PhD programs. But please be sure to include a discussion of your past research experience. You can talk about one project or several, but focus on your role in each project. Please also describe your potential future research interests and why you chose the BBS program for your PhD degree. If there are any faculty you find particularly interesting, feel free to include that information as well.

5. Optional Personal Statement
Your Supplemental Personal Statement will be used by the Director of Graduate Studies to inform their nomination of you for a Graduate School Diversity Fellowship. It will also be used by the Graduate School in their review of your nomination for a Diversity Fellowship. This supplemental statement is not intended to be used for admissions purposes; therefore, faculty serving on the admissions committee will not have access to this supplemental statement. Any personal information that you would like known by the admissions committee should be incorporated into your required Academic Statement of Purpose.

6. Unofficial transcripts from all colleges attended must be uploaded to online application
Applicants must have received, or be on track to receive a baccalaureate degree from a college or university of recognized standing prior to matriculation in the Graduate School. For students with foreign credentials, an equivalent international degree is required.

7. English language proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS). Minimum scores and exceptions can be found on the ELP Requirement Page.

8. Letters of Recommendation (2 letters minimum, 4 letters maximum)
Alert your recommenders of the  December 1st deadline as soon as possible. Your application will not be considered complete unless two recommendations have been received by December 1st. You will find advice on requesting letters of recommendation here

​​​​​9. Resume - uploading a resume to your online application is optional

10. GRE Scores -  is no longer required and we do not accept scores. 

Application Fee Waivers

In cases of extreme financial need or participants of special programs the Graduate School will consider a request for a fee waiver. For detailed instructions, please go to:

Recruitment Interviews

Top candidates will be invited to participate in an online recruitment event to be held in January. 

Admissions Decisions

Applications are reviewed starting in December, and all admissions decisions are made by mid-February.  Admissions decisions are based on the quality of the student’s prior academic and/or professional career, the fit of his/her research interests with funded faculty in our program, and the admissions committee’s assessment of the student’s ability to successfully complete doctoral level work.

Cornell University expects all applicants to complete their application materials without the use of paid agents, credentials services, or other paid professional assistance. The use of such services violates University policy, and may lead to the rejection of application materials, the revocation of an admissions offer, cancellation of admission, or involuntary withdrawal from the University.