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BBS PhD Program


Apply Now ButtonThe 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. The BBS program is searching for applicants who we believe can flourish in the program and have research interests that align with funded projects in our research labs. Applicants are judged on the entire application package, including academic credentials, statements of purpose, and letters of recommendation. The majority of our admitted applicants have prior research experience. 

Application Requirements

In order for your application to be considered complete (and reviewed) you must meet the following eight requirements. 

1. Review the Research Areas to indicate 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 would be helpful if you had made contact with potential faculty rotation mentors to see if they are accepting new graduate students, however, it is not necessary. 

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. The Academic Statement of Purpose is an important part of your application and is your opportunity to tell the admissions committee more about yourself. 

  • Please use the Academic Statement of Purpose to describe (within 1000 words) the substantive research questions you are interested in pursuing during your graduate studies and explain how our program would help you achieve your intellectual goals. You can talk about one project or several but focus on your role in each project. Briefly also describe the scientific goals of the project and its conclusions. You may also incorporate examples where you overcame particular obstacles, showed creativity, and demonstrated initiative or persistence for the project.  Additionally, detail your academic background, intellectual interests, and any training or research experience you have received that you believe has prepared you for our program. Please also describe your potential future research interests and why you chose the BBS program for your PhD degree.  Within your statement, please also identify specific faculty members whose research interests align with your own interests.

4. The Personal Statement: Please describe (within 1000 words) how your background and experiences influenced your decision and ability to pursue a graduate degree. Additionally, provide insights into your potential to contribute to a community of inclusion, belonging, and respect where scholars representing diverse backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn and work productively and positively together. Within your statement, you may also include relevant information on any of the following:  

• How your personal, academic, and/or professional experiences demonstrate your ability to be both persistent and resilient especially when navigating challenging circumstances.
• How you engage with others and have facilitated and/or participated in productive teams.
• How you have come to understand the barriers faced by others whose experiences and backgrounds may differ from your own.
• If relevant, how your research interests focus on issues related to diversity, inclusion, access, inequality, and/or equity?
• Details on your service and/or leadership in efforts to advance diversity, inclusion, access, and equity, especially for those from backgrounds historically underrepresented and/or marginalized.
• Additional context on any significant barriers you have navigated to make graduate education accessible to you.
• Contextual details on any perceived gaps or weaknesses in your academic record.

5. Unofficial transcripts from all colleges attended must be uploaded to the 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.

6. English language proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS).  The BBS program requires that all international applicants demonstrate English Language proficiency using IELTS Academic or TOEFL iBT scores or can provide proof of an exemption.  IELTS Academic: An overall band score of at least 7.0  TOEFL iBT: Speaking: 22 or above, Reading: 20 or above, Listening: 15 or above, Writing: 20 or above. Minimum scores and exceptions can be found on the ELP Requirement Page.

7. Convert your GPA to a 4.0 scale. All applicants must indicate their GPA on a 4.0 scale. Utilize this free GPA converter 

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. 

Application Fee Waivers

In cases of extreme financial need or participants in 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 a recruitment event to be held in late January for matriculation the following Fall semester. 

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.