The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Biophysical Sciences - PhD

Divisions: Physical and Biological Sciences
Degree Type: PhD

Program Description

The University of Chicago offers a manifestly interdisciplinary PhD Program in Biophysical Sciences, intended for students in the Physical Sciences who wish to probe the interface between the physical and the biological sciences. The program is designed for scientists with outstanding undergraduate records in one or more physical disciplines (Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, and Engineering). We provide our students with research experiences that overlap traditional academic boundaries, and with the training, community, and facilities they need to work between existing fields and to create new ones. The Graduate Program in Biophysical Sciences combines the fields of Synthetic Biology, Systems Biology, Chemical Biology, Computation, and Engineering on top of a strong foundation of Chemistry, Physics, Biochemistry, and Cell Biology--covering the dynamics and structure of life from quantum and statistical mechanics, through the resolution of light, and up to the form and function of the basic biological unit (the cell).

Explore program faculty »


Application Method

Applications should be initiated through the Physical Sciences Division's online application. Applicants to Biophysical Sciences are also welcome to apply to other programs in the Physical Sciences Division or the Biological Sciences Division.


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: December 15

Campus Visits and Interviews

The admissions committee invites qualified applicants for an evaluative interview. Interviews must be done in person and are a requirement for admission to the program.

Degree Objective

The Department of Biophysics admits applicants only for the PhD degree.

Application Requirements

  1. A completed application
  2. Application Fee
  3. References:Three letters of recommendation from college or university professors who know the applicant's work well. Individuals who have been away from school for several years may submit recommendations from their employers.
  4. Graduate Record Examinations and TOEFL scores: GRE General Test scores are required of all applicants. A GRE Subject test score is preferred but not required. The program requires a *non-negotiable* minimum qualifying TOEFL or IELTS score. The minimum required score for the TOEFL is 104 overall, with four sub scores of 26 each. Minimum required scores in the IELTS are an overall score of 7, with sub scores of 7 each. The University Institution GRE code is 1832, the Biophysical Sciences Program code is 0222. For the TOEFL, the Institution Code is 1832.
  5. Candidate Statement: All applicants should carefully state their purpose in pursuing a graduate degree in the Biophysical Sciences program. There is a 2500 word limit.
  6. Transcripts: Transcripts from all institutions attended after high school should be uploaded with the application.


Admissions Decisions

Admissions decisions are generally released in early March. No decisions will be given by phone.

Program Requirements

The Graduate Program in Biophysical Sciences is fundamentally different from most graduate programs in the sciences.

  1. Thesis research is conducted under the supervision of two mentors.
  2. First year students arrive in mid-August for a 4 week intensive course, Biological Research Immersion. The first year curriculum consists of two quarters of the Lab Course, Synthesis and Modification, three graduate courses in the Biological Sciences and three in the Physical Sciences.
  3. At least two laboratory rotations are required and typically begin in Spring Quarter of the first year.
  4. The Qualifying Examination is completed by the end of Autumn Quarter of the second year. Students write and orally defend a research proposal according to the guidelines of the Dr. Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Program.

Costs & Financial Aid

The Program offers academically qualified applicants complete and equitable support. Students in good academic standing are guaranteed an initial five years of support, which includes full tuition, health insurance, and a living stipend. The graduate stipend is competitive with awards offered at comparable institutions, is established at a level affording a reasonable local standard of living, and is adjusted annually to keep pace with increases in the cost of living.