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FAQs

Dorsal aorta of an E10.5 mouse.
Dorsal aorta of an E10.5 mouse. CD31 (red) is expressed by endothelial cells. CD41+ (green) cells are blood cells in the aorta. Runx1 (blue) is a master regulator of hematopoiesis expressed in the endothelium and blood. CD31+ primordial germ cells can also be seen migrating along the ventral side of the aorta.
Credit: Amanda Phillips, CAMB

General Questions

Application Questions

GRE/TOEFL questions

 

General Questions

Where is the online application?
The online application can be found here. The application deadline is Monday, December 1st, 2014.

What is the application fee?
The application fee is $80, which is due before we can begin processing your application. The fee can be paid by credit card through the online application.

Is it possible for me to obtain a waiver of the application fee?
We regret that we cannot waive the application fee for international applicants. U.S. citizens and permanent residents may request a waiver in cases of documented financial hardship. To request a waiver, please email the Admissions Coordinator with an explanation of your situation prior to submitting your application. S/he may ask for additional documentation.

When will I know if I’ve been accepted?
Graduate groups arrange to interview all applicants whom they are considering for admission. Interviews of overseas applicants may be conducted by phone and/or videoconference. Most interviews take place between late January and early March. Applicants are accepted on a rolling basis between late January and April 15. All notifications will be available from BGS by April 15.

Please be sure to keep the email address used in your online profile (created when you first logged into the system) current; we will use that address to communicate admissions decisions to you.

What if I can't decide which group to apply to?
Applicants should choose to apply to the group that best matches their research goals and experiences. BGS Graduate Groups are highly interdisciplinary in nature, and students are generally free to take classes and work in labs throughout BGS. If a student’s interests and research focus change, BGS policy permits students in good academic standing to apply for a transfer from one group to another at any point during the first year of study.

Does BGS offer financial aid?
Students accepted to Biomedical Graduate Studies’ Ph.D. programs receive a fully funded fellowship—including tuition, fees, health insurance, and a competitive stipend—regardless of financial need. Funds for these fellowships are derived from reserves provided by the School of Medicine and the University Provost, NIH training grants and individual fellowships, research grants, and other funding sources.

In general, students accepted into Biomedical Graduate Studies are awarded financial support for the anticipated five to six years required to attain the doctoral degree. The annual stipend for students entering in Fall 2014 is $30,500*. In addition, as of Fall 2014, BGS provides new students with a $1,000 relocation award, to help cover start-up costs such as moving expenses and apartment security deposits*.

*excluding students in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Graduate Group

I am an international applicant. Is there any additional information I should know?
Biomedical Graduate Studies seeks to recruit the most talented students from a variety of international institutions. However, please be advised that we can only accept a small number of foreign students. Competition for these positions is intense, and thus we advise prospective applicants to be sure our graduate programs are a good fit for their research interests and abilities. Successful applicants will have extensive training in their area of proposed study, very strong academic records, and high GRE and TOEFL scores

I already have a professional degree and want to obtain a Ph.D. Is there any additional information I should know?
BGS accepts applications from applicants who have already obtained an M.D., V.M.D., D.M.D., Ph.D., or other professional level degree. However, if such an applicant is accepted the applicant is responsible for securing his or her own funding for the entirety of the Ph.D. program; BGS is unable to offer any financial support. These applicants must follow the normal application procedure. Some allowances may be made for standardized testing requirements; please contact the Admissions Coordinator with questions.

Does BGS accept transfer students?
Students who are already enrolled in a Ph.D. program elsewhere may apply to transfer to BGS. Transfer applicants must follow the normal application procedure. At least one of your letters must come from a faculty member at your current institution who is familiar with your work, and your personal statement should include your reasons for wanting to transfer programs.

My question is not answered here or in the application instructions. Who can I contact for more information?
If you cannot find the answer on our website or in the application instructions, you may contact the Admissions Coordinator or the coordinator of the graduate group to which you are applying. Please understand that in the midst of the admissions season we are processing over a thousand applications; because of this a response to your inquiry may be delayed.

Application Questions

What other materials do I need to submit with my application?
A complete application consists of:

What is your transcript policy? Can I submit scanned copies?

All BGS applicants are required to submit transcripts from all institutions attended. To ensure that your application meets our review and acceptance criteria, please follow these guidelines:

  1. Have final, official transcripts for all completed programs sent to us by the application deadline.
  2. If you are currently enrolled in a program, you may provide unofficial transcripts (e.g. scanned copies) for initial review (you can send them to this email account AFTER you have submitted your application; total file size must be under 1MB). A final, official transcript showing conferral of degree will be required of all accepted students prior to matriculation.

Where do I send my transcripts and offline letters of recommendation?
All applications, transcripts, and letters of recommendation are received and processed by the BGS office and then forwarded to the individual graduate groups for consideration. Please mail hard copy materials to:

Admissions Coordinator
Biomedical Graduate Studies
160 BRB II/III - 421 Curie Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6064

Once the application is submitted, applicants may login to the application to see whether transcripts and recommendation letters have been received. Please allow at least two weeks following the deadline for items to be posted to the application.

How can I find out if my application and materials have been received?
Applicants may log into the online application to check whether letters of recommendation and transcripts have been received. The admissions office will post your documents to your application page as soon as possible. Please note that this may be up to two weeks after you submit your application. We request that you please do not call or email the admissions office to check on the status of your application. We have over a thousand applications to process and unfortunately we cannot sort through them to find individual documents.

How do I obtain the Recommendation Form?
The Recommendation Form can be obtained from the application website once you log in. There is an option to have your recommender submit your letter online. There are instructions in the application on how to request online recommendations. You can also download a PDF version of the form for letters submitted offline; this is available here and in the application under "Downloadable Forms."

What if I decide after submitting my application to substitute one letter writer for another? What if I end up with four letters of recommendation?
You may log into your online application account and change the recommender information. As long as an applicant has three letters of recommendation, it will be considered a complete application and will be available for faculty review. If a fourth letter is received, it will be added to your application file.

What if my letter writer does not use the recommendation form?
While we prefer to receive letters on or attached to a completed recommendation form, we will accept letters without the form if the letter comes directly from the letter writer or from a college career office.

How long should my personal statement be?
Your personal statement allows you to discuss your academic and career objectives. It should be around 500 words in length. Be as specific as you can about the area in which you plan to study and your reasons for wishing to study at the University of Pennsylvania.

If you are applying to certificate program, your personal statement should include a paragraph (~200 words) reflecting your interest in those programs in addition to the doctoral discipline.

How long should my research statement be?
Please provide a description of your research experience(s), including the goals of each project, approaches used, results obtained, and implications of the findings for the project and the field at large. You may choose to describe a single research experience or several experiences, but please limit your statement to around 1000 words in length.

Can I make changes to the personal statement/research statement/CV I have already submitted with my application?
We are unable to update parts of your application after it has been submitted. If you send updated CVs, personal statements, etc., we will add to your file but these will not be updated on the online system. We regret that there are no exceptions to this policy.

My college/university does not use a 4-point GPA scale. How can I enter my GPA?
If your previous institution does not use a 4-point GPA scale it is your responsibility to convert your scores to a 4-point scale. There are many online resources available to help you with this process.

I took some classes through my college/university’s study abroad program, and those courses are listed on my college/university’s official transcript. Do I still need an official transcript from the study abroad experience?
If you have studied abroad for a semester or year, and these courses are reflected on your undergraduate institution’s transcript (with or without grades), you do not need to send an official transcript from the study abroad institution.

 

GRE/TOEFL Questions

Which standardized tests does BGS require?
BGS requires the general GRE for all applicants and the TOEFL for students for whom English is not the native language. We will waive the TOEFL for students who have or will have obtained a degree from a U.S. or other approved English-instructed institution. There are no minimum score requirements. BGS does not require any GRE subject tests.

What are the GRE and TOEFL codes?
Please enter the code 2900 on your GRE and TOEFL tests. You do not need to enter a separate department code. If you are required to enter a department code, you may enter any that are available to you; they will all be sent to us. Because Penn keeps all GRE and TOEFL scores on a central database, if you accidentally sent your scores to another school at Penn we will still be able to match them to your application.

What if my GRE scores cannot be reported by the December deadline?
We will accept GRE scores after December deadline if the rest of the application is complete. However, applications will not be considered until the scores are received. Applicants may email the unofficial results of a computer-based GRE test directly to the admissions coordinator and the graduate group; however, no action may be taken on the application until the official scores are received.

What if I took the GRE more than 5 years ago or the TOEFL more than 2 years ago?
ETS will not issue GRE scores that are more than 5 years old or TOEFL scores that are more than 2 years old. Applicants who have expired scores must retake the test(s).

I am an international student who has graduated/will graduate from an English-instructed institution; do I still need to submit TOEFL scores?
No. We will waive the TOEFL requirement for students who have/will have obtained a degree from a U.S. or other approved English-instructed institution.

I already requested that my scores be sent to BGS, but they are showing as not received on my application. Can you check if my scores have been received?
We take several days after the application deadline to double check scores sent from ETS. There are many reasons why your scores may not have matched to your application and we are able to address nearly all of them through this process. We will not be double checking scores until this time. This will NOT negatively affect the status of your application.