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Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics PhD Admissions

Thank you for your interest in the UC San Diego Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics PhD Program. Our goal is to prepare students for careers in the biochemical sciences as researchers and educators. Our students work with faculty across the UC San Diego campus with research programs focused on structural biology, protein, RNA, and lipid biochemistry, experimental and computational biophysics, and systems biology. Below you will find information on the needed application materials and criteria.

Application Deadlines

The PhD Admissions Deadline for Fall 2024 is December 6, 2023

General Application Information

To begin your online application or to check the status on your application, please visit Information you enter may be saved at any time.

The Admissions & Recruitment Committee recommends submitting your application as soon as you complete it, even if we have not yet received all your letters of recommendation. We also highly recommend that you answer some/all of our additional questions about your educational experiences.

We review PhD files continuously beginning in late November and try to get the good news out to those we are recruiting to our program as soon as possible. If you have yet to hear from us, your file is still pending a final decision.


For application review purposes (only), scan and upload copies of unofficial transcripts for all institutions attended after high school. In the online application, you will be prompted to upload a PDF of your scanned documents. Please upload both the front and back sides of the unofficial transcript, even if the back side is blank. Uploaded transcripts should be recent and include the following: your name, the institution name, dates of attendance, grades/marks received, credits earned, and grading legend.  If no unofficial transcript is available, please upload a statement explaining the circumstances. Official copies of your transcripts will be required if you accept a potential admissions offer.

Statement of Purpose

We recommend that you structure your Statement of Purpose to address the following four prompts:

  • Describe your personal and professional motivations for pursuing research in biochemistry and molecular biophysics.
  • Describe your previous research experience(s). For at least one project you have been involved with, try to describe
    • the overall context of the work,
    • the specific goal of the work you were doing
  • What you learned and what your new understanding means for the future of the project. Include a short discussion of how your research experience has shaped your decision to apply to our graduate program.
  • Specify one or more faculty members in our department whose current research aligns with your interests. Provide some insight into why you made the choice(s) you did.
  • Describe any obstacles that you have overcome to achieve your academic and personal achievements as well as any contributions to equity, diversity, and inclusion you have made.

Letters of Recommendation

We require three letters of recommendation. Letter writers that are able to provide context and clarity with respect to your ability and potential to excel in a graduate program are the most helpful in evaluating your application (e.g. a research advisor or a professors from a course that knows you well).

If your letter writer needs a new link to submit their letter, please follow the instructions below:

  1. Log into online application
  2. Click “Update Application”
  3. Go to “Letters of Recommendation” page
  4. Click “Resend” next to the name of your letter writer


The GRE General & GRE Subject are not required and will not be used in the evaluation of your application.

Research Experience

Upload PDF copies of research products such as peer-reviewed publications, bioXriv pre-prints, posters, presentation slides, etc. Please do not upload thesis documents (Honors, MS, etc.). There are four slots with 4MB of space under the “Upload Poster/Research” section.

Additional Educational Experiences

This section allows us to acknowledge the non-academic/research commitments of applicants. While the application lists this section as “Optional”, we strongly encourage you to provide us with information that provides a holistic view of your prior experiences and activities. You may use sections from your Statement of Purpose as your answers to some of these questions.

Fee Waiver Programs

There are a couple of fee waiver programs offered by the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs (GEPA) and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Please visit the GEPA website ( to see if you are eligible for a fee waiver with them. Follow their steps to request for one of their fee waivers.

If you are ineligible for an application fee waiver through GEPA, then please follow the steps below to be considered for one of our limited number of fee waivers by our department.

  • Applying for Fall 2024
  • Please fill out the application as much as you can (
  • Do not submit the application nor enter any payment information
  • Take note of your application's reference number (you'll need that for the next step)
  • Fill out our Fee Waiver Request Form to be considered (link)
  • The deadline to be considered for a department fee waivers is December 1, 2023.
  • If selected for an application fee waiver, we will contact you with further instructions by December 5, 2023.

Commitment to Diversity

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics PhD Program welcomes all applicants. Our program has a long-standing commitment to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion within STEM fields from. Our commitment to diversifying the scientific workforce also includes people who self-identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community, people of socio-economic disadvantaged backgrounds, and individuals with disabilities.

English Proficiency Exams (International Applicants Only)

Applicants that have recently studied full-time for one uninterrupted academic year at a university-level institution in which English is the language of instruction and in a country in which English is a dominant language, may be exempt from language testing requirements.

Demonstrated proficiency in the English language (TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE) is required for all other international applicants whose native language is not English. Requirements for demonstrating proficiency are listed below.

International applicants must include an official report of their TOEFL iBT or TSE scores from ETS. The university-wide minimum TOEFL score for graduate admission is 550 for the paper based test (PBT), and 85 for the internet based test (iBT). The minimum for the IELTS Academic Training exam is a score of 7 and a score of 65 for the PTE Academic.

At minimum, international applicants must also have a TOEFL iBT Speaking subscore of 23, an IELTS Speaking subscore of 7, or a PTE Speaking subscores of 65.

Outreach Conferences 2024

National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Engineers (NOBCChE)

September 30 - October 3 | Rosen Shingle Creek Orlando, FL

American Chemistry Society National Meeting

August 18 - 2 | Denver, CO

California Diversity Forum

October 19 | UC Riverside

Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)

October 31 - November 2 | Phoenix, AZ

Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS)

November 13 - 16 | Pittsburgh, PA


Online Application

Fall 2024 PhD Deadline:

Dec 6, 2023

Jeff Rances
Phone: (858) 534-9728

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