Application Process

The application for Autumn 2024 enrollment has closed.

MCB Seattle recruits students who wish to pursue a long-term career in biological research and education in academia, industry, or policy. We holistically consider many aspects of our applicants including prior research experience, the level of enthusiasm and motivation for graduate training, and the strength of the letters of recommendation for research.  We also consider undergraduate transcripts, activities beyond scholarship, and the ability to discuss research and future goals during an interview.  Applicants must have received a baccalaureate degree or higher (non-master’s) at the time of matriculation; degrees emphasizing biology, physical or natural sciences, and mathematics are preferred.

COVID-19 and Research Progress

We recognize that responses to the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected in-person experiments and progress on research projects.  Our Admissions Committee will take these impacts into account when reviewing each application to the MCB Program.

GRE Scores Not Required

Please note that the MCB Program does not require GRE scores. However you are welcome to discuss your GRE scores in the application if you think it’s appropriate.

Application Instructions

Apply online for admission to the Graduate School and the MCB Program with the UW Graduate School application.

This application process ensures you will meet the application requirements for both the UW Graduate School and the MCB Program. Through the online application, you must submit the following:

  1. Prior Schools and Unofficial Transcripts: Please report and upload transcripts from all colleges or universities you have attended.
  2. Short Answer Questions: Please provide answers to the following questions.  Your answers will help us understand who you are as a scientist, your motivation and your enthusiasm for research.  Please provide answers to the following questions and stay within the indicated character limits, which include spaces.  We recommend you save your answers and return to the question section for review before submitting your application as word processing programs may calculate character count differently than this application.
    • Please provide a bullet-point list of your different research experiences including summer research internships, academic year research, post-baccalaureate, and/or work-related experiences.  For each experience, include a very brief description and include  the Institution, Department, lab  head name, and project title. For international applicants:  MCB requires international applicants to have at least one year of experience in a U.S.-based lab.  If you do not meet this requirement but feel you have equivalent experience, please describe in detail how your experience is applicable. (1500 character limit)
    • What is your total amount of full-time research experience?  Full-time is considered 100% effort for at least 40 hours per week.  Please state your experience in months and/or years.  (100 character limit).
    • What is your total amount of part-time research experience? Part-time is considered anything less than 100% effort.  Please state your experience in months and/or years with the effort of percentage and hours per week.  For example: 9 months at 25% (10 hours/week)  (100 character limit).
    • Tell us about your most successful or interesting research experience and which qualities helped facilitate this. (3000 character limit)
    • Why is obtaining a PhD necessary to your future goals? (1500 character limit)
    • What areas of molecular and cellular biology research interest you and why are you specifically drawn to the MCB Seattle Program? (1500 character limit)
    • Describe a time that you encountered a significant event or obstacle, scientific or otherwise? How did you handle it? (3000 character limit)
    • What do you expect to be challenging about graduate school? What strategies would you use to manage these challenges? (1500 character limit)
    • Which MCB faculty members’ research are you most interested in and why?  This includes faculty at all our partner institutes.  Faculty profiles can be found on the MCB faculty directory. (1000 character limit)
    • Is there any information pertinent to your application that you would like to add that was not covered in the previous questions? (1500 character limit)
  3. Letters of Recommendation: The MCB Program requires three letters of recommendation.  These letters should give us a sense of who you are as a scientist.  At least two letters should be from people who are very familiar with your scientific research experience.  These letters should speak to your potential and promise as an experimental biologist.  Through the online application, you will designate people you’d like to submit a recommendation on your behalf.  The Graduate School will email them with a recommendation form to complete and submit electronically.  You will be notified if someone you designate declines. Although the online application process will accept up to five designations, please only submit three letters of recommendation unless special considerations are needed. The MCB Program only accepts online recommendations via the Graduate School application system.
  4. MCB Faculty List: List six faculty members at the UW and six at Fred Hutch who you would like to meet if invited to interview with the MCB Program. You may want to visit the MCB Faculty directory and sort by “Institution” for information on current faculty.  Faculty members at partner institutions can be listed with the UW faculty.
  5. Resume or CV: We are particularly interested in your broader impacts.  Your resume or CV is an excellent place to highlight aspects of your experience beyond the lab.

Recruitment Interviews

Selected applicants will be invited to interview in person with us in January and February.

International Applications

International students must meet the following requirements:

  1. Completed one year of research in a US-based lab. 
    • If you do not meet this requirement but feel you have equivalent experience, please describe it in Question 1 of the MCB application.
  2. If English is not your native language, you must demonstrate spoken English proficiency in one of the following ways:
    • Hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States, or hold a bachelor’s degree from an institution in Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, or the United Kingdom, where English is the medium of instruction. While enrolled at the degree-granting school, the student must be in residence on campus. (Note: A master’s degree does not satisfy this requirement).
    • Hold a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Juris Ductor (JD) for a regionally accredited institution located in the United States where English is the medium of instruction.
    • A test score on file at the University of Washington for the following tests. Test scores must be submitted by the international applicant deadline to be considered a complete application.
      • TOEFL-iBT/TOEFL iBT Home Edition: 92 overall AND 26 on the speaking section.
      • IELTS: 7 overall and 7 on the speaking section.

Cost of Study

The MCB Program offers the following financial support to students:

  • 12-month competitive salary (2023-2024 salary: $45,000 or $3,750/month)
    • Expected 3% raise every year
    • Salary is the same for all students, regardless of year in program or citizenship country
  • Tuition waiver
    • All quarters (does not cover mandatory UW $259 quarterly student fees)
  • Full benefits
    • Includes medical, dental, and vision
    • Subsidized dependent coverage available

Students with satisfactory academic progress are guaranteed funding for the duration of study.

The MCB Program also offers the following benefits to students in the program:

  • $1,500 technology scholarship
  • $2,000 in travel funds to present at a conference

Note: The technology scholarship and travel funds are offered only once throughout the duration of a student’s studies, not on a yearly or annual basis.

Applying to Other UW Programs

Admission to the MCB Graduate Program is highly competitive.  If you are very interested in pursuing graduate studies in Seattle and the University of Washington, we suggest you also apply to the other biomedical departments at the University of Washington that have graduate programs:  Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Biology, Genome Sciences, Immunology, Microbiology, the Neurosciences program, Pathobiology, Pathology, Pharmacology, and Biophysics Structure & Design. 

You will have to pay a separate application fee for each application to a UW graduate program. Due to privacy rules, the MCB Program cannot forward your application to other UW graduate programs.

Concurrent MCB PhD and Epidemiology MS Application

Applicants interested in the concurrent MCB PhD/Epidemiology MS program should submit separate applications to each program by the appropriate deadline.  Please also select “EPI” as one of your faculty member choices in the “MCB Faculty List” portion of the application.

Frequently Asked Questions

Application fee waivers are processed through the UW Graduate School and are only available for US citizens who qualify for financial need. Need is based on 100% Median Family Income (MFI) level. Current McNair Scholars and PPIA Fellows who have sent documentation to the Graduate School are also eligible. You can request a fee waiver at the very end of the application process and will receive a waiver decision before submitting your application.

Additional information can be found on the UW Graduate School website.

Application Fee Waivers

Does MCB have a GPA Requirement?

The MCB Program follows the UW Graduate School requirement of a 3.0 cumulative GPA. MCB is a rigorous program, so applicants with a 3.5 GPA tend to have the scientific foundation for MCB.

If you need to convert an International Grading system, you can find a GPA calculator on the UW Graduate School Website.

UW Graduate School GPA Calculator Tools

My grades weren’t too great during my first year of undergrad. Is that a problem?

The MCB Admissions committee takes a holistic approach to evaluating applications. Grades are only one part of an applicant’s full story. The committee especially looks for an upward trajectory in a GPA, so strong grades in later years are taken into account.

No, MCB is a PhD only program, we do not offer a Master’s degree option.

You do not need to contact MCB faculty before submitting your application. You are asked to list MCB faculty whose research interests you in Question 9 of the short answer questions.

Other Resources

For more information, visit: