Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What academic background do I need to apply?
A: Most entering graduate students have completed an undergraduate major in biological sciences that includes college level courses in chemistry, physics and mathematics. The Department also welcomes applications from students with less traditional backgrounds. For the Thesis Track degrees, we encourage prior research experience.

Q: When is the application deadline?
A: For the Thesis Track MS and PhD programs, students are admitted for fall semester only and the deadline is December 1 for Domestic and International applicants.For the Non-thesis Track MS degree, the application deadline is May 1 for admission in fall and October 1 for admission the following spring.

Q: What is the minimum GPA?
A: The minimum GPA requirement by the UWM Graduate School is 2.75 for the two most recent years of study. However, the Department of Biological Sciences prefers your GPA to be 3.0 or higher. High grades in science coursework will help your application.

Q: What can I do to improve my chances for admission?
A: For the Thesis Track MS and PhD students, gaining field or lab research experience and including an evaluation of it in your letters of recommendation will enhance your application. For all applicants, if your GPA is low, we recommend taking a couple of graduate level courses after your Bachelor’s degree to demonstrate your ability to succeed at the graduate level.

Q: What admissions test is required?
A: For the Thesis Track MS and PhD programs, we do not require test scores.

For the Non-thesis Track MS program we do not require test scores, but accept the: General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), Dental Admission Test (DAT), Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) or Praxis Test.

Q: What are the GRE and TOEFL codes for this program?
A: The institution code for both tests is 1473. For all other scores, copies of the official test results should be uploaded to your application under the Documents module and listed as ‘Other Scores.’

Q: Are there any forms that should accompany the recommendation letters?
A: There are no forms. You will submit your Letter of Recommendation requests through the Panthera application system (see application instructions).

Q: What are the requirements for English proficiency for International Students?
A: Submit your TOEFL/iBT, IELTS, or CAE scores unless you have completed a baccalaureate or higher degree from an institution where English is the sole language of instruction. The degree must have been earned within 2 years of your expected enrollment and you must have attended that institution for a minimum of 2 years. UWM requires a minimum TOEFL score of 79 overall with a minimum score of 24 on the Speaking portion; a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 overall with a minimum score of 7.0 on the Speaking portion; or a minimum CAE score of C1 overall with a  minimum of 185 on the Speaking portion. All test scores can be no more than 2 years old. The UWM Center for International Education has more information about international language testing and any possible fees for foreign degree evaluation.

Q: Do you offer an MS degree?
A: Yes. We offer both a Thesis Track research-based MS and a Non-thesis Track coursework-intensive MS degree.

Q: Do I need to have an MS degree before applying to the doctoral program?
A: No. Many of our students go directly from a Bachelor’s degree to the PhD.

Q: What financial aid is available?
A: For Thesis Track MS and PhD degrees, US and International graduate students will receive funding through Teaching (TA), Project (PA) or Research (RA) Assistantships as well as competitive campus-wide fellowships. Teaching Assistantships are provided for 3 years for MS students and 5 years for PhD students. Besides the salary, the Teaching Assistantship also provides eligibility for university-supported health insurance and includes tuition remission, except for student-segregated fees, and a bus pass.

For Non-thesis Track students, there are several departmental awards and scholarships that can be applied for annually.

Q: Is Biological Sciences a part of the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP)?
A: Yes, our MS Non-Thesis, MS Thesis and PhD programs are part of the Midwest Student Exchange Program. If you are a legal resident of Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota or Ohio, you will receive a reduced tuition rate (no more than 150% of the in-state resident tuition rate). Note: Illinois has moved to inactive status in the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP), but Illinois residents entering UW-Milwaukee during the 2022-23 academic year will be charged tuition equivalent to the MSEP rate. This group of students will remain eligible for the duration of their time at UW-Milwaukee.

Q: Can I get health insurance?
A: All TA, RA and PA are eligible for university-supported health insurance benefits.

Q: How can I check to see if my application is complete?
A: Log in to your application at Panthera at: https://graduateschool-apply.uwm.edu/. You can also email the Biological Sciences Program Assistant at bioscigrad-list@uwm.edu.

Q: How many applications do you receive each year?
A: We receive approximately 100 completed applications per year (in recent years, this number has been steadily increasing); approximately 15-20 applicants receive offers of admission, depending on the availability of funding and faculty lab positions.

Q: If I apply to the Department of Biological Sciences, am I allowed to apply to other UWM graduate programs?
A: Yes. You may apply to as many graduate programs as you wish. The University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee does charge a separate application fee for each program.

Q: Am I eligible for an application fee waiver?
A: To be eligible for an application fee waiver, you would need to attend the UWM Graduate School’s In-Person Open House event and follow all steps outlined in the application fee waiver document. Open House dates and registration details can be found at: https://uwm.edu/graduateschool/openhouse/.