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Program Admission Requirements

Admission to the Cancer Biology Graduate Program is a highly competitive process that includes thorough application review by a six-member admission committee.  The qualifications for admission are gauged by research experience, letters of recommendation from research/advisors/supervisors, GPA, and personal statements. The committee ranks the applicants on the basis of their qualifications, their potential to become scientific scholars, and the likelihood of completing a PhD.

Top applicants are personally called by one of the Co-Directors inviting them to visit and interview with faculty and current students during the program’s two recruitment events.  Current Cancer Biology students take an active role during the recruitment visit, from meeting the applicants to hosting a student-led lunch and dinner. Visiting applicants are interviewed by at least 6 faculty members, including one of the program’s Co-Directors, and a member of the admission committee.  Applicants arrive Thursday afternoon  or early evening and depart on Saturday morning.

  • Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited U.S. institution, or comparable degree from an international institution, with a major in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, molecular biology, or related area
  • Undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on the equivalent of the last 60 credit hours OR a master’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Basic course background in chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, genetics, physiology, and molecular biology recommended
  • Prior laboratory research experience
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Score required if applicant’s native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not exclusively in English. (English proficiency and exemptions)
  • The General GRE or subject GRE are no longer required


Program Application Materials Required

  • Apply through the Graduate school. Indicate intended Major Field of Study from drop-down menu: “Cancer Biology PhD”
  • Upload unofficial transcript(s) from EACH post-secondary institution attended (undergraduate and graduate), even if no degree was received
    • If accepted to the program, a hard copy of the official transcript will be required by the Graduate School
    • Note: International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation.
  • Upload Personal Statement/Reasons for Graduate Study (no more than 2 pages, single spaced, PDF)
  • Upload current CV/Resume (PDF)
  • List names and emails of THREE references who will submit electronic letters of recommendation. Using this option, references will automatically receive an email prompt to submit a letter of recommendation electronically. Be sure to check the box to send the email requests for EACH program that you apply to at UW-Madison
  • Submit $75.00 non-refundable application fee, payable by credit card (Mastercard or Visa)
    • The UW-Madison Graduate School offers a limited number of application fee grants to eligible students. The Graduate School and Cancer Biology Program do not offer fee waivers to applicants for any other reason than those listed

Submit OFFICIAL TOEFL Scores, if applicable, from ETS