Admission FAQs

Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions page. If you are unable to find answers to your questions here, please feel free to contact Jeff Rances. Contact information is on the left side.


What are we looking for in a PhD applicant?

We are looking for hardworking applicants with a strong background and a passion for Chemistry and Biochemistry, one that works well with others in a diverse environment, a person who will take the skills and experiences they learn here to be a contributer to society. It's more than the GPA & GRE, our committee puts more value in one's research experience, letters of recommendations, and motivation (statement of purpose).

How are admissions decisions made?

Our admissions committee look at the whole application, so understand that not one thing will define your application (whether it be GPA, GREs, etc.). Remember, your file will be reviewed individually and in comparison to other files.
  • Transcripts (minimum average grade of B, a 3.0 average on 4.0 scale, required)
  • Quality of the undergraduate and master's (if applicable) university
  • Research experience and any publications (very important if you are applying for the PhD program)
  • Letters of recommendation (especially from research mentor)
  • GRE scores on general test (verbal, quantitative, and analytical sections; no hard cut-off)
  • GRE advanced test score (any STEM  required; no hard cut-off)
  • TOEFL score (minimum of either a score of 80 on the iBT, 220 on the computer-based, or 550 on the paper-based. Test date within the past two years)
  • Statement of purpose (research interests and reason for applying)
  • Competitiveness of the applicant pool

How do I apply?

Application materials required are listed below. The UCSD online application and fee must be submitted. All other supplemental materials can be uploaded to the online application.
  • A UCSD application. UCSD currently utilizes a Web-based application to apply for graduate study. You may work on your application a bit at a time, and then submit it once it is complete. The site is secure, and your application information and credit card payment will remain confidential. Please use the UCSD Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) Web page as your starting point once you are ready to apply.
  • Three letters of recommendation. The forms for the letters as well as waiver forms to accompany them are available in online application.
  • Statement of purpose. Please upload a PDF in your online application.
  • Transcripts. Please upload a copy of your transcripts in your online application.
  • GRE general exam score report. All applicants must provide official GRE general test scores (verbal, quantitative and analytical) from ETS.
  • GRE advanced exam score report. All applicants must provide official GRE advanced test scores in either Chemistry or Biochemistry.
  • Foreign applicants must submit the official report of their TOEFL or TSE scores. TWE scores are optional but encouraged.
  • Optional. Please send copies of any research publications or abstracts you have authored or co-authored.  

Admissions Procedures

What are the highlights of your doctoral program?

Chemistry and Biochemistry is in an unparalleled time of growth, with 25 faculty members having joined our program in the past decade. With 70 faculty, 230 graduate students, and over 1000 undergraduate majors, we are one of the largest departments on the campus. We offer our doctoral students:
  • Research opportunities in all areas of contemporary and traditional chemical and biochemical sciences. Research is conducted in modern laboratories, and the facilities and equipment are first-rate.
  • A doctoral program designed to accommodate individual interests. Students begin their research in the first year, and most finish in their fifth year.
  • Full financial support, including an annual stipend including fees and out-of-state tuition for PhD students and are in good academic standing.
  • Interactions and possible collaborations with local and national industry.
  • Student housing for a large percentage of the UCSD graduate population.
  • Campus resources and organizations for mind, body, and spirit.

What is the research environment like?

UC San Diego is at the center of a vibrant and thriving scientific community located on the Torrey Pines Mesa. Our campus houses over 32 graduate programs, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the Howard Hughes Institute, a School of Medicine, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center. Our neighbors on the mesa include the Salk Institute, the Burnham Institute, The Scripps Research Institute, and a biotechnological park C&E News calls Eden. There are many more institutions in the area. With all of this scientific research going on, it fuels a lot of collaborations.

What is UC San Diego's application fee? May I have the fees waived or reduced?

Applicants will be required to pay the application fee or to request a fee waiver at the end of the online application.

  • U.S. Citizens & Permanent Resident Applicants: $90.00

  • International Applicants: $110.00

Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents may request a waiver of the application fee. Applicants must provide supporting documentation within two weeks of the application submission date.

For more information, please visit the Graduate Division Application Fee and Fee Waiver website.

When are applicants notified of decisions?

Our Admissions Committee reviews files continuously from late November through January, and applicants are notified by email as decisions are made. If you have not heard from us, your file is still pending a final decision. You can check on your application status at: Please be sure to update your email and mailing addresses on the official graduate application site, should they change.

What are the Institution and Department Codes for GREs/TOEFL

  • The Institution Code is 4836
  • The Department Code for the GRE and Subject GRE is 0301
  • The Department Code for the TOEFL exam is 62

If you put down a different department code then it is ok. All of the scores are sent to a central office.

I did not take the Subject GRE, can I still apply?

Yes you can apply to our PhD program even if you have not taken a subject GRE. However, the subject GRE is required as part of a complete application. We strongly encourage you to take a subject GRE in a STEM field so that our Graduate Admissions Committee can assess all aspects of your application.

The Subject GRE is not required for MS admissions.

How do I check my status of my application and application material?

You can do this by logging into your online application at

What type of research facilities are avaiable for use?

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCSD supports a number of Research Facilities that provide access to high-end instrumentation analysis. Members of the department, as well as other researchers, are encouraged to take advantage of these facilities to expand their research objectives. The facilities include mass spectrometry, biophysical instrumentation, cryoEM, x-ray, and NMR. Most of the facilities are staffed by Ph.D.-level professionals who provide training, and high-quality molecular analyses. You can find more information by visiting our Facilities page.

Which Subject GRE should I take?

We accept all STEM related Subject GRE exams, so take the one you will do the best or the one that best highlights your strengths.

My recommender did not recieve the online letter of recommendation request link, can I have the online system resend it?

Yes, please follow the instructions below:

  1. Log into Grad Apply
  2. Click “Update Application”
  3. Go to “Letters of Recommendation” page
  4. Click “Resend” next to the name of the recommender

Graduate Admissions

Online Application

Fall 2016 PhD Deadline:

Dec 15, 2015

Jeff Rances
Phone: (858) 534-9728
Fax: (858) 534-7687

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