Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

  • How do I compare to your average student?

    Here is a snapshot of a recent entering class:

    • Acceptance rate: 17%
    • 44 first‐year students
    • Average GPA: 3.5
    • Average GRE (quantitative plus verbal): 310
    • Average amount of research experience: 2.5 years
    • Average TOEFL: 108
    • 59% female, 41% male
    • 86% U.S. citizens, 14% international
    • 20% U.S. students from underrepresented groups
  • What can I do to increase my competitiveness as an applicant?
    • Review the admissions information to learn about our requirements and deadlines.
    • Submit all components listed in the Application Checklist by the application deadline.
    • Include information about your research experience on your resume/CV or personal statement.
    • Follow up on the status of your application through TargetX and act appropriately to ensure it is complete.


    Research experience is one of the most important factors when considering an application, so it is recommended that personal statements, resumes/CVs, and letters of reference provide relevant details.

  • What kind of research experience is needed?

    Admissions committees look for bench/wet lab or bioinformatics research.  At least six months of research experience is required, and this can be a combination of summer research opportunities, undergraduate research, postgraduate research, employment, etc.  Lab components of an academic course are generally not considered research experience.

  • How can I gain research experience?
  • Do I need to contact faculty before applying?

    You do not need to contact faculty for admission.  Students in our program do three research rotations with different faculty in the first year before joining a lab, so admission is decided by a committee rather than individual faculty members.  You are welcome to reach out to faculty with other questions (such as if they will be taking rotation students), but it is not required and will not affect your chances of admission.

  • Do I need a master's degree to apply?

    No, a master's degree is not required.

  • May I enter the program in spring or summer?

    Admission is only offered for fall semester because that is when first-year coursework begins.  Some fall applicants may be allowed to enter during the summer semester to begin their first lab rotation.

  • Do you offer a master's degree?

    GBS only offers PhD programs, but UAB offers a Masters of Science in Multidisciplinary Biomedical Sciences (MSMBS) that prepares students for a wide-spectrum of careers related to the biomedical sciences.

  • I'm not sure which theme to apply to. What should I do?

    Students select a theme for entry but have access to faculty and courses from across GBS, allowing for flexibility in both research and academics. This means you can do research in any lab, regardless of theme.  Each theme has different requirements regarding coursework, so review the training plans and any supplemental materials on each theme page to assess which theme best fits your interests.  Students can also change themes after joining the program if their interests change.

  • Who is considered a domestic applicant?

    Domestic applicants are US citizens or permanent residents who hold a Permanent Resident Card (green card). Permanent residents will be asked to upload a copy of their green card during the application process.

  • When will I find out the decision on my application?

    Admissions committees generally make decisions on applications December through March.  You will receive an email when a decision has been made.  After interviews, offers of admission generally go out January through April.


Application Questions

  • Have all parts of my application been received?

    TargetX allows you to check the status of your application 24/7.  Log into the system to view your current status.  

  • Can I submit unofficial transcripts?

    Yes, we can use unofficial transcripts for initial review of applications.  Upload directly to your application through TargetX.  If offered admission, official transcripts from each institution will be required.

  • I submitted unofficial transcripts, but my checklist says they have not been received. What happened?

    The Graduate School has to review and verify all uploaded transcripts.  This review is typically done one to three business days after application submission. Once they have verified the transcript, it will be marked as "received" in your checklist.

  • Is there a word limit or suggested word count for the personal statement?


  • Where do I send my official transcripts?

    For UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.

    UAB Grad School
    LHL G03
    1700 University Boulevard
    Birmingham AL 35294-0013

    For United States Postal Service
    UAB Grad School
    LHL G03
    1720 2nd Avenue South
    Birmingham AL 35294-0013


    For those schools that use email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • How are letters of recommendation submitted?

    Letters of recommendation are submitted online.  The people identified as recommenders will receive an email with instructions on how to submit their letter.  If there are any issues, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for assistance.

  • How many letters of recommendation are required?


  • Should I waive the right to see my letters of recommendation?

    Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, students have access to their education record, including letters of recommendation. However, applicants may waive their right to see letters of recommendation, in which case the letters will be held in confidence.  Most people waive this right because it can allow the author to be more honest and genuine in their letter, but it is up to each applicant to decide what is best for their situation.

  • Have my letters of reference been received?

    After submitting your application, view your checklist in TargetX to see which letters have been received.  If a letter has not been received, follow up with the recommender.

  • My letter of recommendation writer never got an email or is having problems with the link to submit the letter. What should I do?

    If you have already submitted your application, log into TargetX and click to resend the email to that recommender. If they do not receive the email or are having issues with the link, they can email their letter to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and it will be added to your application.

  • Will it hurt my application if I do not submit GRE scores?


  • For GRE scores, what is the the institution code for UAB?
    • Institution code is 1856.
    • There is no department code.

    As a reminder, GRE scores are not required for application, but scores can be provided voluntarily.

  • I applied in the past and wish to apply again this year. How do I do this?

    Documents from your prior application can be transferred over and used with your new application. Submit a new application and send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request for transfer of materials.

International Student Questions

  • Can the application fee be waived?

    PhD applicants who have participated in one of these qualifying programs may be eligible for an application fee waiver:

    • ABRCMS - Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students
    • California Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education
    • Cientifico Latino Graduate Student Mentorship Initiative
    • Emerging Researchers National Conference
    • Emory STEM Research and Career Symposium
    • Fisk to Vanderbilt Bridge Program
    • Gates Millennium Scholars
    • GEM - National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Sciences
    • Graduate Horizon for Native American Students
    • Hopps Research Scholars Program
    • IMSD - Initiative for Maximizing Student Development
    • IRT - Institute for Recruitment of Teachers
    • LSAMP - Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation
    • MARC - Minority Access to Research Careers
    • Math Alliance - Field of Dreams Conference
    • McNair Scholars
    • MMUF - Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship
    • NIH Graduate Professional School Fair
    • NNE - National Name Exchange
    • PREP - NIH funded Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program
    • RISE - Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement
    • SACNAS - Society for Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science
    • UNCF - United Negro College Fund
    • SPIN - Summer Program in Neuroscience
  • May I submit unofficial English proficiency scores (TOEFL, etc.) for initial review of my application?

    Yes!  Upload directly to your application through TargetX.

  • For TOEFL scores, what is the institution code for UAB?

    Institution code is 1856.  There is no department code.

  • Can the English proficiency requirement (TOEFL, etc.) be waived?

    The English proficiency requirement is managed by the Graduate School.  See the English proficiency details to see if you are eligible for a waiver.  For further information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Do I have to submit the Financial Affidavit of Support?
    • The Financial Affidavit of Support is a government requirement for all international students who matriculate into our program.
    • All students traditionally admitted into the program receive financial support.  This will be stated in the appointment letter, so you may submit the appointment letter as proof of financial support.
  • How will interviews occur for international students?
    • International applicants living in the continental U.S. may be invited to on-campus interview weekends.
    • Applicants living outside of the continental U.S. may be interviewed via Skype.
  • Are transcript evaluations from WES or ECE required?

    Transcript evaluations are helpful but not required.  You have the option to include them with your application.

  • My English proficiency scores (TOEFL, etc.) expire soon. Do I need to retake the exam?

    Scores must be no more than two years old at the time of application submission.  If the scores expire after you submit your application, you do not need to retake the exam.  If the scores expire before you submit your application, they will not meet the requirements.

  • Are three-year bachelor degrees eligible for this program?

    These circumstances are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Graduate School. You may reach out to Kristin Brymer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for review prior to submitting your application. 

  • My transcript only contains mark. Will this be accepted for the admissions process?

    These circumstances are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Graduate School. You may reach out to Kristin Brymer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for review prior to submitting your application.