Prospective Students

Application Process

Applying to the IBiS program for entry in Fall 2020 (application available September 3rd)

Applications to the Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences (IBiS) program for Fall 2020 should be submitted online to The Graduate School by December 15, 2019 for consideration for full financial support (tuition, stipend and health insurance). 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 - download before filling out, 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 ibis@northwestern.edu.

3. Please submit the following supporting documentation as part of your on-line application (Note that IBiS does not require the submission of GRE scores):

  • Statement of Purpose (less than 2 pages): The admissions committee considers the statement of purpose carefully in the review of each applicant's materials. Applicants should communicate both a clear understanding of their scientific experiences and their motivations for pursuing graduate studies. Statements should address the following questions: What is the overall research question that you are investigating and what parts of this question did you pursue? What were your contributions to the project, what did you learn, and what was accomplished (papers, presentations, etc.)? Finally, applicants should clearly communicate their research interests and how they relate to the research opportunities available within the IBiS program.
  • 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 may also contain the following: awards, affiliations, presentations, and a list of publications if available.  
  • 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 no more than two years old at the time of intended matriculation and must come directly from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The institutional code assigned to The Graduate School at Northwestern is 1565. 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 and March. 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 CollegeNet 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.