How to Apply

Admission Criteria

Applicants to our Ph.D. program must have earned a baccalaureate (i.e. bachelor’s) degree (or its equivalent) in the biological, chemical or related sciences by the time of enrollment.  Successful applicants will have completed undergraduate courses in biology, chemistry through organic chemistry, genetics and mathematics through calculus. Typically, we target applicants with previous grade point averages of at least 3.3 and substantial research experience.  International applicants must have demonstrated an acceptable level of English proficiency by achieving a minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL or 6.5 on the IELTS. We take a holistic approach when evaluating applications, though, and strength in one or more aspects of an application can compensate for another area that is not as strong.

Application Process

Applications are typically accepted for enrollment in the fall semester only, although exceptions for enrollment at other times can be made in special circumstances. All applicants to our program must apply through the VCU Office of Admissions by following this link.  To apply for the Ph.D. training program in Human Genetics, in the “Intended Program of Study” screen, select the appropriate term of entry, then “Doctoral (PhD and EdD)” as your intended level of study and then “Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal - School of Medicine -PHD” as your planned course of study.

A completed application contains the on-line application, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation and a personal statement.  Your letters of recommendation should comment on your suitability for graduate training and on your research or other relevant experience. Your personal statement should describe in any order (i) your research or other experience, (ii) why you are interested in Ph.D. training, (iii) your main research interests, (iv) a short list of prospective faculty mentors, (v) any career plans that you have, and (vi) any other information that will help us evaluate you as a prospective Ph.D. trainee. If you are supported by a governmental or other scholarship, please provide a copy of the financial guarantee or award letter. International applicants must provide TOEFL or IELTS scores (VCU code 5570).  In addition, international applicants must arrange to have their academic credentials evaluated by a service that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) and must include the evaluation of their credentials in the application for graduate training. WES, ECE, and AACRAO are some of the acceptable NACES-approved providers. After completing the online application, documents such as official transcripts or resumes that cannot be submitted electronically should be sent to the following address:

Virginia Commonwealth University
Office of Admissions
Box 843051
Richmond, Virginia 23284-3051

Please contact Dr. Rita Shiang, the Director of Graduate Admissions for Human Genetics, if you have any questions.

Applications for Ph.D. training in Human Genetics and other programs within the VCU School of Medicine are evaluated by a committee within our Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal. Applicants to the Ph.D. program should complete their applications (i.e. receipt of all forms, letters, transcripts, etc.) by January 1.  Applications completed after this date will be reviewed in exceptional cases only.

How to Apply FAQs

Do I need GRE scores to apply for the program? We currently do not require GRE scores for admission decisions for the Ph.D. degree.

How many students are accepted into the Ph.D. program in Human Genetics? The number of students accepted annually varies, but incoming Ph.D. classes typically have three to six students each.

What is the minimum TOEFL score I need to be accepted into the program? A minimum of 100 must be achieved on the computerized TOEFL exam.

What is the minimum IELTS score I need to be accepted into the program? A minimum of 6.5 must be achieved on the IELTS.

Do you accept students for the spring semester? The vast majority of our students enroll starting in the fall semester. We consider applications for students that want to enroll starting in the spring semester in very special circumstances only.

How do I apply for a student assistantship? You do not need to apply separately for a graduate assistantship for the Ph.D. program. It is automatically done for Ph.D. applicants, domestic and international alike. 

Do I need to choose a mentor before applying to the Ph.D. program? Human Genetics Ph.D. students do not need to choose a mentor before they start graduate school. Instead, Ph.D. students perform up to three laboratory rotations their first year and then choose a mentor during that time.

Where do VCU graduate students live? Most students live off campus. There is on-campus housing for graduate students, but you should plan to apply early for on-campus housing if interested in this option.