Our mission is to educate students to become the innovative biomedical scientists of the future
With state-of-the-art technology, an entrepreneurial mindset and a highly personalized program, we are dedicated to educating students who drive cutting-edge translational research forward and preparing them to become the next generation of outstanding biomedical scientists.
The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) at Sanford Burnham Prebys offers a Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Sciences at our La Jolla campus. It is a small, competitive program, maintaining eight openings per year and a steady state of approximately thirty students. GSBS is an admit to fit program where students and faculty are matched as a prerequisite for acceptance into the program. Therefore, it is required that prospective students contact potential faculty mentors with shared research interests. Applicants are encouraged to contact faculty prior to applying, and interest from faculty member(s) is required to be invited to interview for the program. Entering graduate students are admitted to their thesis labs on day one and do not perform laboratory rotations. Therefore we have a shorter time to degree than other schools – our average is 4.7 years.
About the program
Our graduate program prepares students for careers in basic and translational research through a unique curriculum of focused, multi-disciplinary instruction. Our curriculum is highly personalized and tailored to a student’s research focus. In the first two years, students complete five core courses, six tutorials and one elective. Instruction is accompanied by extensive practical laboratory training under the supervision of expert faculty.
Students in the Graduate School of Biological Sciences receive an annual stipend. The stipend for the 2019-20 academic year is $34,000/year. Students have access to the same medical, dental and vision insurance plans as the faculty and staff with reasonable premiums. Additionally, students are allocated up to $500 annually for allowable educational support purchases such as expenses for scientific meeting travel, computer hardware or software, etc.
The application for Fall 2021 will open September 1, 2020 and the deadline is December 4, 2020. Admitted students begin the program in early September 2021.
Applicants should contact prospective faculty mentors in advance of applying as faculty interest is required to be invited to interview and to be accepted into the program. All applications are reviewed by the Admissions Committee and the Graduate School considers both domestic and international applications. Our in-person Interview Day will be scheduled for late February 2021.
Applicants should complete the application, send in the required documents, request recommendation letters and submit their application fee. An application is complete when all documents and payment have been received.
Application prerequisites & documentation
- An undergraduate degree
Preferably in the Biological, Chemical, Physical, or Computational Sciences, or medical degree, is required for admission to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Additionally, we value applications from candidates with significant research experience.
- Personal statement of interest
Statement should be 1,000 words or less discuss your purpose in applying to the Graduate Program and specifically your reason for selecting Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute.
- GRE Scores
The graduation record examination (GRE) general test is required, and an appropriate subject test, e.g., chemistry or biology, is recommended. All tests must be taken within the last five years. GRE scores must be sent by the Educational Testing Service to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Program Office. The School Code for Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute is 2718.
- Letters of recommendation
Three letters of recommendation are required. Please instruct each person providing a letter to send either a hard copy directly to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Program Office or an electrically signed letter via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org directly from the referee's email address.
- TOEFL/IELTS scores
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores are required for all foreign students whose first language is not English, or who have obtained their previous degree in a country where teaching is not in English. TOEFL scores must be sent by Educational Testing Service to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Program Office. All tests must be taken within the last two years. Generally, successful applicants score at or above 100 on the TOEFL or 7 or above on the IELTS. The TOEFL School Code for Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute is 2718.
All official undergraduate and graduate transcripts and proof of degree (official translations required to accompany all foreign documents). Universities or colleges must mail original transcripts directly to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Program Office.
- Application fee of $80 USD
Applicants may pay via PayPal at the end of the application or submit a check or money order drawn from a US bank made payable to "Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute". Fee waivers must be approved in advance from the Graduate Office.
See fee waiver policy for further information.
The application period for Fall 2020 is now closed. The application period for Fall 2021 will begin September 1, 2020.
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Start your Sanford Burnham Prebys GSBS application by clicking the "Apply Now" button below. Enter your name and email. A link to the full application will be generated and also sent to your email. You can save your application in process and return to it later anytime with this link.
Please note that information you enter is only stored when you click the "Next" button. Your application will only be submitted when you click "Submit Application" at the end.
Additionally, you will need to upload a copy of your resume or CV and your Statement of Interest with the application form. GRE scores, transcripts and three letters of recommendation must be sent to our office. The application fee of $80 USD may be paid online using PayPal or by mailing a check or money order drawn on a US bank and made payable to "Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute." Fee waivers must be approved in advance from the Graduate Office.
Please send supporting documents via email or mail:
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute
10901 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, CA 92037
List of fields for the application:
- Personal Information: name, address, email, citizenship, etc.
- Academic History: schools and dates attended, GPA, degrees earned
- GRE Results, Subject test scores (if applicable)
- TOEFL/IELTS Score (if applicable)
- Applicable work experience
- Names and institutions of your three recommenders.
- Years and months of research experience
- Areas of research interest (up to four)
- Names of faculty members you are interested in training with and why (up to five)
- Optional: demographic information, other applications, etc.
- What are the admissions requirements?
Students are required to submit the application, official undergraduate (and graduate, if applicable) transcripts, official GRE scores, TOEFL scores for those applicants whose first language is not English, a written personal statement, three recommendation letters and the $80 application fee.
- Who is eligible to apply?
Any student who has an undergraduate degree, preferably in the Biological, Chemical, Physical, or Computational Sciences, or a medical degree, is eligible to apply. Prior scientific research experience is a key component in evaluating applications.
- What is the application deadline?
The application deadline is December 6th.
- What is the application fee?
The application fee is $80.
- Do you require the GRE test?
What is the minimum score for admittance? The Graduate Program requires GRE scores for all applicants. There is no minimum score for the GRE, however successful applicants score at or above the 60th percentile. However, the Admissions Committee seeks students with strong academic potential and expectations will vary depending on an applicant’s background and goals. The school code for Sanford Burnham Prebys is 2718.
- Do you Require the TOEFL/IELTS test?
TOEFL/IELTS scores within the last two years are required for those applicants whose first language is not English. Applicants who have earned an undergraduate or graduate degree from an institution where the language of instruction is English are exempt from submitting a TOEFL/IELTS score report. Generally, successful applicants score at or above 100 on the TOEFL or 7 or above on the IELTS. The TOEFL School Code for Sanford Burnham Prebys is 2718.
- What if my transcripts are not in English?
Official translations are required to accompany all foreign documents.
- May I submit unofficial transcripts and/or GRE and TOEFL scores?
Applicants may submit unofficial documents in advance of official documents. Official documents should be received by December 6th.
- Do you accept fee waivers?
Yes, the Graduate Program accepts fee waivers for students involved in programs such as MARC, McNair, Gates Millennium, AmeriCorps, IRT, LSAMP, etc or for those who have an economic hardship which prevents them from paying the application fee. Fee waivers are restricted to U.S. Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents. Please email the Graduate Office at admissions@SBP.edu for more information and the form.
- How many students does the program accept every year?
The Graduate Program maintains 8 openings each academic year though the actual acceptances may be less. We only accept the most qualified candidates that have matched with our faculty.
- Does the program admit international students? Do you offer student visas?
The Graduate Program accepts international students and issues the F1 student visas to accepted applicants.
- Does the program have an interview day? Who is invited to interview?
The Graduate Program has an in-person interview day in late February and international applicants interview via video conference. Applicants must have faculty interest to be invited to interview. Therefore, we recommend that applicants contact faculty during the application process to discuss the possibility of joining their lab.
- Do you offer video interviews for applicants residing outside the U.S.?
Yes, the Graduate Program conducts video interviews for applicants residing outside the U.S. Applicants from Canada and Mexico may interview in person or via video conference depending upon location - each situation is evaluated on a case by case.
- What is an Admit-to-Fit Program?
Our Graduate Program is Admit-to-Fit, which means an applicant must have secured a commitment from a faculty member to join their lab along with a favorable review by the Admissions Committee before they will be offered admission to the program. Applicants are accepted directly in to a faculty mentor’s lab and do not do rotations.
- Do applicants need to contact prospective faculty mentors in advance?
Yes! Only applicants with faculty interest will be invited to interview or be accepted into the program. We recommend that applicants contact faculty during the application process to discuss the possibility of joining their lab.
- Do students do rotations?
No, students do not do rotations and enter their thesis lab on day one. Applicants must secure a faculty match during the admissions process.
- How do I contact the Graduate Program?
You may contact the Graduate Program by phone at (858) 646-3100 or by email at admissions@SBP.edu.
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute does not discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, marital status, race, color, national and ethnic origin or non-disqualifying handicap in regard to all activities associated with the Graduate School. Handicapped access is provided.