Prospective Students

Why BGS?

Outstanding, Broad-Based Research

Penn is a leader in basic, clinical, and translational research, and BGS students have the opportunity to explore virtually any biomedically-relevant discipline.  BGS’ seven graduate groups are made up of 660 faculty members, with many faculty participating in multiple groups.   Research training opportunities span 35 academic departments in seven schools at Penn:  Perelman School of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dental Medicine, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Applied Science, Wharton, and Nursing, Additionally, students may work with researchers in several associated institutes, including the Wistar Institute, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, and the NIH Graduate Partnerships Program.  Penn’s compact campus allows for a short walk between each of its schools, further enabling interdisciplinary exploration. Many BGS students choose co-mentors from different areas of campus, and students are often instrumental in developing new research collaborations among the faculty.

Rigorous and Flexible Training

Each BGS student undertakes intensive training during the first two years to obtain a solid foundation in their discipline.  The training consists of core and elective courses, research rotations, seminars, symposia, journal clubs, chalk talks, and a candidacy exam.  By the end of their second year, students are engaged in full-time dissertation research, which typically takes 3-4 years to complete.  During this time, students continue to engage in supplemental training activities offered by their graduate group.  Throughout their training, BGS students may undertake training and professional development opportunities beyond those offered their graduate group through classes, certificate programs, professional development workshops, career internships, and student-organized interest groups.  Students receive guidance and mentorship from their graduate group leaders, lab mentors, and a thesis committee selected by the student, as well as peer-mentorship from other students. All students complete an Individual Development Plan annually to document their accomplishments, obtain input from their mentors, and plan their next steps – in graduate school and beyond.

Commitment to Student Support

BGS students receive a full fellowship including a competitive stipend, a $1000 relocation award after enrollment, tuition, fees, and health insurance.  The fellowship is guaranteed for the duration of a student’s training. The stipend is $34,000 effective Fall 2019.  Students receive additional financial support, including up to $1000 per year from BGS for travel to scientific conferences, free Penn gym membership, partial coverage of optional dental insurance, discounted parking and public transportation plans, and support options for students with children.  

Excellent Student Outcomes

Approximately 85% of students who enroll in BGS’ doctoral programs complete the degree, with an average time-to-degree of approximately 5.8 years. Students graduate with an average of 4 publications each.  Virtually all BGS graduates obtain employment in careers that make use of their PhD training. Details about graduate outcomes are available on the BGS Career Development page.

 

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What Else Should I Know About Being a Penn Graduate Student?

Penn Values its PhD Students

At Penn, graduate students are valued for their talent, drive, and creativity as scholars. Graduate students bring fresh ideas and new approaches to old problems.  PhD training at Penn is conducted through graduate groups, rather than academic departments, which can easily adapt as disciplines and educational expectations evolve.  Penn has a dedicated Graduate Student Center at the heart of campus, which provides space for students to meet and relax and which organizes University-wide resources for grad students.  

BGS Students Engage with Each Other and the Broader Community

There are many opportunities to interact with graduate students beyond those in one’s own cohort or lab floor, though a variety of student-led groups.  These groups are organized at the level of the graduate group, BGS, and the University, and they have a wide array of purposes, including peer support, socializing, recreation, community outreach, skills development, and career exploration. 

Philadelphia Is a Great Place to Live

The University of Pennsylvania is located west of the downtown area of Philadelphia on a unified 260-acre campus, in convenient proximity to New York City, Washington, DC, and Baltimore, as well as the New Jersey beaches, the Pocono Mountains, and the Chesapeake Bay. Philadelphia is popular among young adults for its vibrant arts scene, impressive historic architecture, extensive urban parks, and ever-expanding restaurant options.  Among major cities, Philadelphia is surprisingly affordable. Most students do not feel the need for a car and instead walk, ride bides, or use public transportation. Great information is available at Visit Philly.

Housing Options Are Plentiful

Students are able to find affordable living accommodations in several areas surrounding the University. Many students choose to live nearby the University in West Philadelphia or in the Rittenhouse Square and Graduate Hospital neighborhoods of Center City Philadelphia, all which are within walking distance of Penn. The University provides shuttle services throughout these neighborhoods in the evening and late at night. Students also reside in many other neighborhoods throughout the city, including Old City, Queen Village, Bella Vista, Society Hill, and the Art Museum area, all of which are accessible by public transportation with varying degrees of convenience. Penn provides information on off-campus housing, including more detailed descriptions of Philadelphia's neighborhoods, and offers on-campus graduate housing.

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Ready to Apply?

The application deadline for 2020 admissions was December 1, 2019. The online application for 2021 admissions will be available on or around October 1, 2020.

More information about the BGS admissions process is on the Admissions page.  

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