How to Apply

Admission Criteria

Applicants to our M.S. 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 3.0, combined verbal and quantitative GRE scores of at least 300, and at least some 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 MS in Human Genetics training program, in the “Intended Program of Study” screen, select the appropriate term of entry, then “Masters” as your intended level of study and then “Human Genetics-MS” as your planned course of study.

A completed application contains the on-line application, official transcripts, general GRE scores (VCU code 5570), 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 M.S. 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 M.S. 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 M.S. training are evaluated by a committee within the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics. Applicants to the M.S. program are strongly encouraged to complete their applications (i.e. all forms, letters, transcripts, etc. received) by May 1 or earlier if possible. Applications completed after May 1 will typically not be considered.

How to Apply FAQs

Can I substitute MCAT scores for GRE scores for admissions consideration?  Although GRE scores are much preferred, MCAT scores can substitute.

What is the code for VCU to report my GRE scores? Do I need a department code?  The code is 5570. No department code is necessary.

How many students are accepted into the M.S. program in Human Genetics?  The number of students accepted annually varies, but incoming M.S. 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.

What is the minimum GRE score I need to get accepted into the M.S. program?  Our target for the combined verbal and quantitative reasoning sections of the GRE is 300 for applicants to the M.S. program.

Do you accept applications 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?  Due to limited resources, students in the M.S. Human Genetics program do not receive direct financial support from departmental or university sources. Students will find payment information, student responsibilities and the most recent tuition and fees schedule in the VCU Student Accounting Department. U.S. citizens and permanent residents admitted to the M.S. program are encouraged to seek assistance from the VCU Office of Financial Aid.

Do I need to choose a mentor before applying to the M.S. program?  Human Genetics M.S. students do not need to choose a mentor before they start graduate school. Instead, M.S. students perform two 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 graduate students, but you should plan to apply early for on-campus housing if interested in this option.