Prospective Students

Application process

Application process


Applications to the Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences (IBiS) program for Fall 2017 should be submitted on-line to The Graduate School by December 1, 2016 for consideration for full financial support (tuition, stipend and health insurance). Due to the high volume of applications, you will hear from us only if your application is incomplete. Only complete applications will be considered for review by the admissions committee.

1. Complete the online application via the following link to The Graduate School and select "IBiS- Biological Sciences: PHD (B15PH)". You must complete the entire application--do not leave blank entries unless the information requested is not applicable to you. The application fee is $95.00.

2. Fact Sheet: In addition to the Graduate School Application, please complete and submit the IBiS Program Fact Sheet (pdf or doc format). May be submitted in the "Supplemental Document Upload" section as part of the online application, via mail to the address listed on the fact sheet, or as an e-mail attachment to

3. Please submit the following supporting documentation as part of your on-line application:

  • Statement of Purpose: The statement of purpose is an important part of the application and our admissions committee considers it carefully in reviewing each applicant's materials. It should be less than two pages in length, describe your previous research experience, reasons for choosing to attend Northwestern and to pursue this field of study, and your career goals. Consider describing the larger research questions that were being addressed, your individual contributions to the project, and how your research contributed to the broader understanding of the questions you sought to address.

  • Transcripts: Scanned copy of your official transcript from each post-secondary institution attended.

  • Three Letters of Recommendation: Three letters of recommendation from advisors/professors who are familiar with your work and achievements and can assess your potential to succeed in a Ph.D. program. Be sure to include letters from your research advisor(s) and have recommenders mention the IBiS program in their letters. The letters should speak to your academic abilities and your ability to be a successful graduate student conducting research independently. Your recommenders' institutional contact information should be listed in your online application.
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae: A good resume will summarize your education, research experience, and technical skills and would contain the following: awards, affiliations, presentations, and a list of publications if available.
  • GRE Scores: The GRE scores for the general test ARE required for consideration to the IBiS program; however no subject test is necessary. MCAT scores cannot be substituted for GRE scores. Official scores must be less than five years old and must come directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The institutional code assigned to The Graduate School at Northwestern is 1565. Be sure to include this number on your test form.
  • International Applicants: Applicants whose native language is not English must certify their proficiency in the English language by taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Earning an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English exempts the applicant from having to take and submit TOEFL scores. Official scores must be less than two years old and must come directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The institutional code assigned to The Graduate School at Northwestern is 1565. Be sure to include this number on your test form. The minimum TOEFL score for consideration to the IBiS program is 577 on the written exam or 90 on the internet-based exam. Scores from the IELTS can be accepted in place of the TOEFL. The minimum IELTS score required for admission is 7.0.
  • Completed applications will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee in December and January. Selected applicants in North America will be invited to one of two recruitment events in February. The on-site events run Sunday evening through Tuesday morning. The events provide an opportunity to meet current IBiS students and faculty. Activities include a welcome reception, interviews with faculty, a research poster session, a tour of facilities, an informal dinner with faculty and students, a mini-symposium, and a farewell lunch. Admission decisions are finalized and offers made soon after the weekend visit.

    Highly qualified international applicants outside of North America may be contacted for a telephone interview in March. Such students need not make special arrangements to visit Northwestern University, as they will be considered for phone interviews only. All students are always welcome to visit Northwestern University. Visits do not constitute or contribute to decisions by the Admissions Committee.

    Applicants who are not selected for an interview will receive a decision via ApplyYourself by April 15. In general, if you are in North America and have not yet heard from us by February it is unlikely that you will be invited to campus for a recruiting weekend.