Application Information


You must apply separately to the MS in Biology Program and the University.  All application materials must be received by the deadline for your application to be evaluated. 

Applications for Spring 2024 entry are due on 1 October 2023. Applications for Fall 2024 entry are due on 1 April 2024. 


Admission Requirements

• Acceptance into the research lab of a full-time faculty member in Biology who will serve as the student's thesis adviser. You are strongly advised to contact prospective advisers (by email or phone) well in advance of submitting your application to ensure that professors working in your desired research area are planning to take on new students and have space in their labs.
• Baccalaureate degree (4-year degree required) in biology or a related field from an accredited institution of higher learning.
• Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 2.5 on a 4-point scale (if the cumulative GPA is less than 2.5, the GPA during the last 60 semester units of coursework must be 2.5 or higher).
• GPA of 3.0 or better in all biology and biology-related courses (e.g., biochemistry) and a GPA of at least 2.5 in all supporting coursework in chemistry, physics, and mathematics/statistics.
• Submission of 2 letters of recommendation from academic or professional references.
• For applicants who do not possess a Bachelor's degree from a postsecondary institution where English is the principal language of instruction, competence in English must be demonstrated by a minimum score (550 written; 213 computer; 80 internet) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or a minimum score of 6.5 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam.
• International students should refer to the University Admissions and Records website for additional information.  There may also be country-specific requirements, which are detailed on the International Admissions websiteOpens in new window

Conditional Admission

A student may be admitted conditionally if they have one or more deficiencies in the required admission, e.g., a degree outside of biology, a GPA between 2.5 and 3.0, lack of significant research experience or training, etc. Conditional admission usually requires that the student demonstrate their ability to do graduate level work in biology, often by satisfactorily completing one or more advanced undergraduate or graduate-level courses with grades of B or better during their first semester. Conditional admission is made on a case-by-case basis as judged by the Graduate Admissions Committee and cannot be requested as part of the application process.

Application Process

1. Review the research programs of full-time faculty members in Biology whose research activities and interests best match your own. Contact them (at least 3) well in advance to inquire about openings in their labs (spaces in labs can be quite competitive and fill quickly). Most advisers will not consider students who have not contacted them in advance. This is a critical first step because a faculty member must agree to advise you during the application evaluation stage or you will not be admitted into the program.

If time allows, visit Cal State Fullerton to meet with prospective advisers and their graduate students and learn more about the University. 

2. Arrange for the submission of 2 letters of recommendation from persons who can address your qualifications for graduate work. Ordinarily, these letters would be written by professors at your undergraduate institution or by professionals who can speak to your ability to do graduate-level study and your promise as a researcher and scientist. Letters must be written on institutional letterhead and submitted directly by the recommender as part of your application via the CalStateApply system. Letters of recommendation should be confidential.

3. Arrange for submission of all of your official transcripts. All official transcripts must sent to the CSUF Admissions Office. The applicant should send unofficial transcripts directly to the Department for program review. Unofficial transcripts will not substitute for the official copies required for admission.

4. Complete and submit the application electronically in Cal State Apply. Specific application questions for the MS in Biology program are embedded in the last section of the application. IMPORTANT : As part of your application you must calculate your Biology and Supporting Science Course GPAs using the grades from all your college transcripts. You must use the Excel GPA calculator to calculate your GPAs, then upload the results as a pdf file as part of your CalStateApply application. Download the Excel GPA Calculator file by clicking this link

5. Your application will not be circulated for evaluation unless all of the required components are received by the application deadline. You should submit your application well in advance of the deadline and check with the Department staff about the status of your materials to be sure that your application is complete. Once submitted, all application materials become property of the Department and cannot be returned to you or forwarded elsewhere.

Please contact if you have any questions.   

Postal correspondence can be mailed to:  Biology Graduate Program Adviser, Department of Biological Science (MH-205), California State University Fullerton, 800 N. State College Avenue, Fullerton, CA 92834 USA. 

Program Evaluation Process

1. When an application is complete, it is sent to 3 faculty members for evaluation (these would normally be the faculty members you identified as prospective advisers on your application, but the Biology Graduate Adviser may also circulate it to other faculty members with similar interests).

2. When all 3 evaluations are received, the Graduate Adviser reviews the evaluations and the application and makes a decision whether to admit the applicant or not. Applications may be rejected because they are incomplete, because the applicant fails to meet program or University admission criteria, or because no faculty member agreed to accept the applicant into their lab.

3. Applicants are notified of the final decision by email and follow-up letter as soon as possible. We aim to make all decisions by early December (spring entry) and early May (fall entry).  Applicants who have been admitted and who expressed an interest in working as a teaching associate or graduate assistant will be sent a separate application form.