FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about the BBSP application process

 

The application asks about research interest areas – what are these?

Who should provide my recommendation letters?

What should I include in my Statement of Purpose?

Do I need to have an idea of which PhD program I want to join before applying to BBSP?

But I already know which PhD program I want to join!  Can I apply directly to that program?

What if I have a physical sciences background (e.g. physics, chemistry, math, etc)? 

If I am a student working/studying abroad can I apply for admission to BBSP?

Do I have to have a masters degree to apply to BBSP?

Do I need to take the GRE?

Do I need to take the GRE Subject test?

Do you have contact information for the GREs?

Do I need to take the TOEFL?

Do you have contact information for the TOEFL?

How do I check on the status of my application?

What happens when my application becomes complete?

When will I find out if I have been accepted into the program?

Will I receive financial support?

The application asks about research interest areas – what are these?
Information about the interest areas and the faculty with research in those areas can be found here.  Your list, along with the personal statement, help the BBSP Admissions Committee get an idea of your basic interests so we can best assign your application to faculty reviewers.

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Who should provide my recommendation letters?
At least one letter needs to come from a research advisor.  Preferably all should be submitted from those who can describe your research skills.  We particularly appreciate letters that can specifically describe your potential for future research.

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What should I include in my Statement of Purpose?
Your Statement of Purpose should have two or three sections (depending on whether you answer the optional question), with each section clearly labeled.  While there is no specific required length, most statements are longer than one page but do not exceed three pages.

1.  REQUIRED Describe your previous research experience(s).  Make sure to elaborate on your motivation to pursue your research project(s), what your role was in the project(s), as well as any results/presentations/papers resulting from the project(s).
2.  REQUIRED Tell us about your motivation for seeking a PhD in the biomedical sciences, your research interests and what type of research you hope to pursue in graduate school.  Also please tell us what you would like to do after graduate school and how you perceive a PhD will be a step in your desired career path
3. OPTIONAL Is there anything else not addressed in the questions above that you would like the committee to take into account as they consider your application?

Please include peer reviewed publications (please provide reference or PMID), as well as fellowships you have been awarded here and also in your CV.

Faculty reviewers often comment negatively on the following factors: typographical errors, grammatical mistakes, and research descriptions that are technical but lack a brief discussion of the rationale and goals of the research project.

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Do I need to have an idea of which PhD program I want to join before applying to BBSP?
No.  Students are admitted into the BBSP for the first year of graduate study.  During this year you are free to explore departments, programs, labs and courses before committing to a specific thesis lab or PhD program.  We do ask for your top five research interest areas on the application, but that information is only used to help us better understand your goals and doesn’t affiliate you with any one specific department.

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But I already know which PhD program I want to join!  Can I apply directly to that program?
No.  If you are interested in obtaining a PhD in Biochemistry & Biophysics, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Biology (MCDB Division), Cell & Developmental Biology, Cell & Molecular Physiology, Genetics & Molecular Biology, Microbiology & Immunology, Neurobiology, Oral Biology, Pathology, Pharmaceutical Sciences (Medicinal Chemistry Track or Molecular Pharmaceutics Track), Pharmacology, and Toxicology you must apply via BBSP.  Because BBSP has no core curriculum or required courses, nothing prevents a committed student from starting on the requirements for a program right away.  Interested students should contact the Director of Graduate studies for their program of interest or check the program website for more information.

Please note: students interested in a PhD in the Biochemistry Division of Chemistry can apply either through BBSP or through the Chemistry department.

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What if I have a physical sciences background (e.g. physics, chemistry, math, etc)?  
We welcome applications from students with either a biological or physical sciences background, or that have a background at the interface of these disciplines. Such a background can actually be a benefit for many of our PhD programs such as Biochemistry & Biophysics, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, and Medicinal Chemistry, as well as the Molecular & Cellular Biophysics Training Program.

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If I am a student working/studying abroad can I apply for admission to BBSP?
Yes. You can still apply to the BBSP program, and where you are living at the time can affect what type of interview you would be offered. Please refer to our Interview page for more information about our interview process.

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Do I have to have a masters degree to apply to BBSP?
No.  You can enter the BBSP program after having completed a bachelors degree.

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Do I need to take the GRE?
Yes.  We require the general test only. Remember that it takes 4-6 weeks for the official scores to be reported, so try to take it before you submit your completed materials.

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Do I need to take the GRE Subject test?
We do not require a subject test, but if you choose to report a subject test score we will include that in our overall assessment.

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Do you have contact information for the GREs?
GRE-ETS
P.O. Box 6000
Princeton, NF 08541-6000
Website: www.gre.org
Phone: 1-866-473-4373

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Do I need to take the TOEFL?
If you are an international student, and have a degree from a university in the US, then you are exempt from taking the TOEFL. If you are an international student, and do not have a degree from a university in the US, then you are required to take the TOEFL. Scores must be from a TOEFL test that was taken no more than two years ago. Detailed exceptions from the TOEFL can be found on the Graduate School website.

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Do you have contact information for the TOEFL?
Educational Testing Services
P.O. Box 6151
Princeton, NJ 08541-6151
Website: www.toefl.org
Phone: 1-800-468-6335

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How do I check on the status of my application?
At any time, you can look at your checklist in your application to see if there are any items left to be included in your application. If there are no checklist items, there are no additional items needed. Also, after you have submitted your application, it takes the Graduate School time to go through the entire application and mark your application complete – even if you see on your end there are no checklist items remaining. Please do not be concerned if your application shows a status of incomplete. If you are able to see the materials in your application, then we are able to see your application materials. When we are ready to review your application, if there are any materials missing, we will contact you directly.

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What happens when my application becomes complete?
The BBSP Admissions Committee will begin to review applications in late November or early December. We will contact our strongest candidates with invitations to interview on a rolling basis throughout our review process (our review process is typically December through early January).

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When will I find out if I have been accepted into the program?
The Admissions Committees meet shortly after each interview weekend to determine which applicants to recommend for admission. The committees will give a small number of offers for admissions following each weekend; however, just like the review process, this is a rolling process with all of the offers not fully given until after the completion of the interview weekend cycle in early-mid March. We will contact students directly to make them aware that an offer for admissions has been given to the Graduate School, and then the Graduate School will send an official offer letter to the student only when they have finished qualifying the application. Students have until April 15th to inform the BBSP program of their decision.

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Will I receive financial support?
As a student at UNC (regardless of whether you are a domestic or international student), you will be provided a competitive stipend, and are guaranteed support throughout your graduate career at as long as you remain in good academic standing. Your tuition, fees, and health insurance will also be paid.