Prospective Students

Application Process

Applying to the IBiS program for entry in Fall 2024

Applications to the Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences (IBiS) program for Fall 2023 should be submitted online to The Graduate School by December 15, 2023 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.  For eligible applicants, a fee waiver will be provided by The Graduate School on a first-come, first-served basis.

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

  • Academic Statement (max 1,000 words): Applicants should communicate their motivations for pursuing graduate studies, their career goals, and how they have prepared to reach their goals. They should also include their reasons for choosing IBiS, the field(s) of study in which they are currently interested and the reasons for that interest.
  • Personal Statement (max 500 words): The Graduate School values diverse backgrounds, approaches, and perspectives, understanding them as essential ingredients for true academic excellence. As a Northwestern graduate student, how could you contribute to an intellectual community that prioritizes equity, inclusion, belonging, and cultural humility? Your answer may draw upon past or present experiences, whether in academic work, extracurricular or community activities, or everyday life.
  • Transcripts: A scanned copy of your official transcript from each post-secondary institution attended is required.
  • 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. 
  • Research Statement (1-2 pages): Applicants should communicate a clear understanding of their scientific experiences. Statements should address the following questions: What was the overall research question that you were investigating? What part of this question did you pursue and why was this part important? What were your contributions to the project, what did you learn, and what was accomplished (papers, presentations, etc.)? Submit as "Supplemental Document 1." 
  • Fact Sheet: Complete the IBiS Program Fact Sheet (fillable pdf  or doc format), and submit as "Supplemental Document 2." 
  • Three Letters of Recommendation: Letters of recommendation should be 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.
  • International Applicants: International applicants whose native language is not English must certify their proficiency in English 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 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. Applicants who are not selected for an interview will receive a decision via CollegeNet by April 15th. In general, if you have not yet heard from us by February, it is unlikely that you will be invited to interview. Selected applicants will be invited to participate in one of two admissions events in February. The events will provide an opportunity to talk with current IBiS students and faculty. Admissions decisions are finalized and offers made soon after the virtual visit.