BBS PhD Program


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1. What degree is offered through the Biomedical and Biological Sciences (BBS) PhD Program?

The BBS Program offers a PhD in Biomedical Sciences.
Applicants will choose a concentration that most interests them. If you matriculate into the program, you are able to change your concentration after your three laboratory rotations.

  1. Immunology and Infectious Disease
  2. Molecular and Cellular Medicine
  3. Population Medicine and Epidemiology
  4. Translational Medicine
  5. Zoology and Wildlife Conservation

2. Is there an application fee?

Yes, there is a $105 nonrefundable application fee. In cases of extreme financial need or participation in a pathways program, you may be eligible for a fee waiver.  Visit the Application Fees page for information on the application fee and if eligible for a fee waiver how to apply for one.

3. Where do I send my application materials?

All application materials should be uploaded online at the Cornell Graduate School application Apply Now page.

4. Is there a letter of recommendation form?  Who can write a letter of recommendation on my behalf?

Yes, this is all located in the online application Apply Now page. The BBS PhD program application requires a minimum of 2 letters and maximum of 4 letters of recommendation. Recommendations letters must be submitted by faculty members from your current or prior academic institution who are acquainted with your academic work. If you haven't been a student for some time a recommendation from someone familiar with your professional performance is acceptable. Recommendations must be received from an official and verified email address. Be sure to enter each recommender's official university or company email address.  Recommendations should not be from friends or family members.

5. Is there an application deadline?  For what term do you accept applications? 

Yes, December 1st annually.   We do not accept applications for spring admission.

6. Can I apply to more than one program?

You may indicate a second-choice field of study on your online application. If you are declined by your first choice you may request to be reviewed by your second choice field of study.

7. What funding is provided by the BBS Program? Are all students eligible for funding?

An applicant to the Biomedical & Biological Sciences Ph.D. Program is automatically considered for funding.  All domestic and international students admitted into the BBS Program are guaranteed funding for the duration of your program, contingent upon satisfactory performance toward your degree completion.  Funding, in this context, is defined as full tuition and student health insurance payments, and a living stipend.  Stipend levels are set by the BBS Program on an annual basis; the stipend level for 2024-25 is $45,240/12 months. 

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 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.

8. Is it necessary to contact BBS faculty? Am I admitted to a specific faculty’s lab?

Applicants to the BBS program are strongly encouraged to contact faculty members prior to applying to the program, however, it is not required. You will find a current list of faculty recruiting new students on this webpage Individuals admitted to the BBS PhD program are admitted to the 1st year cohort and not a specific faculty member’s lab. Admitted students are required to complete three lab rotations during their first year before officially joining a lab.

9. Are there additional requirements for international students?

Yes. All international applicants must demonstrate proficiency in the English language.  This test must have been taken within two years of the application. TOEFL and IETLS minimum scores can be found on the ELP Requirement page..

10. Do I have to take the GRE in order to apply?

No, you do not have to take the GRE. The BBS program does not accept any submissions of GRE scores. 

11. Is there on-campus student housing? Is there support for off-campus student housing?

Yes, University Housing is available. Yes, support for off-campus housing is available.

12. How many graduate students are enrolled at Cornell?

Cornell has over 7,000 graduate students with over 130 of those students enrolled in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) Graduate Program. During the Fall 2023 BBS admissions cycle; 343 students applied, 45 students were admitted after the interview process, and 21 students matriculated.  

13. Can I be admitted without an official  TOEFL or IELTS score? 

All application requirements must be submitted for a student to be accepted into a degree program. Unofficial scores can be used in the initial review process, but in order to matriculate official TOEFL scores must be submitted to the Graduate School (code 2098).   To learn more about English Language Proficiency Requirements see this website

14. Can I apply to the BBS Ph.D. program after receiving my undergraduate degree?

Yes, the majority of BBS applicants are individuals coming directly from their baccalaureate program.

15. Can I talk to your current BBS Ph.D. Student?

Yes, you can find information on BBS student leadership by visiting the BBS Graduate Student Society, BBS Peer Mentors, and BBS D&I Council. Additionally, a number of our BBS Ph.D. students are Cornell Graduate School Ambassadors, you can search the Ambassadors page by graduate program, home town, etc.