Can you elaborate on professional degree holders being responsible for all funding throughout the PhD program? Will a yearly stipend still be provided? Will a PharmD fall under this category?

In general, professional degree holders are ineligible for BGS funding. Such students are responsible for their own funding for the duration of the PhD program—BGS does not offer a stipend or other financial support (see our FAQ page).

PharmD degrees do technically fall within this category, but we have been able to make exceptions in the past on a case-by-case basis. If you have a PharmD degree and are interested in pursuing your PhD here, we would recommend that you submit your application as usual and should the graduate group wish to accept you, we will then be able to determine if you would be eligible for funding.

As a foreign student, I just want to know whether you will accept IELTS as English performance demonstration.

Yes, we do accept IELTS exams. 

I have submitted the application but due to some mistaken understanding, I have sent a wrong email of my recommendation provider. What should I do now?

You should contact the admissions office directly:

I have applied to the GCB PhD program for fall 2014 but have not heard anything from the admission committee. Since the website says that all the students who have been invited for interview are notified in December/January does it imply that my application has been rejected?

We provide final decisions as soon as they are available from the graduate groups. If you have not received a notice it means that your application is still under review.

One of my main research projects as an undergraduate was not successful and did not produce conclusive data. How important is research productivity in PhD and MD/PhD admission in the BGS program at Penn?

Probably the two most important factors for admission are (1) having a strong research background and (2) having strong letters of recommendation from research supervisors. While research productivity is looked upon favorably by admissions committees (particularly when coupled with publications), it is not essential that all previous research projects produce conclusive data. In fact, having some experience with unsuccessful research projects (and being able to write about and discuss them articulately and thoughtfully) may make you a more compelling applicant. All scientists need grit. 

If we get denied admission, is there someone we may contact to ask why or where we fell short, so that we may consider applying again?

If you would like an analysis of your application, you may request one from the coordinator of the graduate group to which you applied (you can find the contact info here:

Please be aware, however, that admissions season is ongoing, and therefore a reply may be delayed.

Hello! Thanks for setting this blog up and offering the help. My question is: I am an international applicant for the CAMB program. But I currently work in the U.S. Is it possible that I will be considered for an on-site interview? Or will all international students be interviewed via internet/phone regardless of their current location? Thank you very much!

Yes. Even for international candidates, on-site interviews are generally preferred. So, if you are residing in the U.S. (and noted this in your application), it is possible that you will be considered for an on-site interview. 

Are you still inviting students to interview? Will we get notified if we are not invited?

We regret that we are unable to provide ongoing updates of each group’s internal interview and review process. 

Most interviews take place between late January and early March (international applicants are typically interviewed toward the end of the cycle). If you are selected for an interview, you will be contacted by email during this period. Some groups provide additional information on their respective websites, typically in the Admissions section (you can reach each group page through our main BGS Site). 

We will inform every applicant of his or her final status as soon as it is available. All notifications will be available by April 15 at the latest. 

Thank you,

BGS Admissions

How necessary are official transcripts? I thought that admissions would ask for official ones after they have reviewed the initial application.

Our transcript policy is available on our FAQ page:

All BGS applicants are required to submit transcripts from all institutions attended. To ensure that your application meets our review and acceptance criteria, please follow these guidelines:

  1. Have final, official transcripts for all completed programs sent to us by the application deadline.
  2. If you are currently enrolled in a program, you may provide unofficial transcripts (e.g. scanned copies) for initial review (you can send them to this email account AFTER you have submitted your application; total file size must be under 1MB). The transcript must include your Spring 2013 semester grades and indicate the courses you have enrolled in for the Fall 2013 semester. A final, official transcript showing conferral of degree will be required of all accepted students prior to matriculation.
Is there anyway to know when the application reviews and interview invites will be sent out by programs? (gene therapy and vaccines specifically)

There is no set schedule for invite notifications—invites are managed by each group individually in advance of their interview weekends. As noted below, some groups do make their interview information public, including CAMB

Applicants are accepted on a rolling basis between late January and April 15. All final decisions will be available from BGS by April 15, though the vast majority of applicants will be notified well in advance of this date.

Can we get any more information about likely interview dates? I am currently being offered interviews and would prefer to keep one of Penn's weekends open in case I get offered an interview there as it is one of my top choices.

Some groups do make this information public—you should check the Admission page on the website of the group to which you applied. 

Hi, I was wondering if you could provide a snapshot of the typical student that you select. Fo instance, what is the typical GRE range and GPA range? Also what percentage of applicants do you accept? Thank you.

Average scores/percentiles for this past year’s (2013) accepted students are as follows:

GPA: 3.72
GRE: 85% Verbal, 83% Quantitative, 4.5 Writing
TOEFL: 28R, 27L, 26W, 24S

We typically accept around 20% of our applicants, but this number varies with each graduate group.

Hi, I am an international student and while going through the FAQ's , I found this Question "I am an international student who has graduated/will graduate from an English-instructed institution; do I still need to submit TOEFL scores? No. We will waive the TOEFL requirement for students who have/will have obtained a degree from a U.S. or other approved English-instructed institution." May I know what are the documents required, if the school is outside US and where to mail them??

No documents are required. 

Hello, I am an international student. I have a medical degree (MD) from outside the US & I am finishing up a masters degree (MS) in molecular medicine at Drexel University (graduating this semester by the end of December). I am genuinely interested in two of your BGS programs. Unfortunately, I got caught up with my finals & missed the deadline, which was just yesterday. Is there any chance to submit an application today? I can send all my supplemental documents overnight. (excluding LOR & GRE).
For the personal statement and research statement, should they be single or double spaced, or does it not really matter?

Single-spaced is preferred but it really doesn’t matter.