Please visit the Caltech Office of Graduate Studies website for more details about the application process and to Apply Online.
BMB Admissions – Important Dates:
December 1, 2021
BMB Application Deadline.
December 13-14, 2021
Applicants will be contacted to participate in an initial Zoom Interviews.
December 15-16, 2021
Zoom Interviews held.
December 20, 2021
Invitations to the BMB Interview Weekend sent to applicants.
December 22, 2021
Deadline to RSVP to the BMB Interview Weekend.
February 5-8, 2022
BMB Visiting Weekend. Details of the visit will be outlined in correspondence.
Nuts and Bolts
The sections below contain some of the basic information about applying to Caltech. You can find even more details on the Caltech Graduate Office admissions webpage.
Applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree or the equivalent before beginning graduate study. Applicants who already hold a Ph.D. degree will not be considered for a second Ph.D. degree. Transcripts from each college or university attended, three letters of recommendation, a CV, and the applicant's statement of purpose are required components of the application and are carefully and equally weighed during the evaluation process. GRE tests (general and advanced subject) are not required and scores will not be considered for admission. Applicants are expected to read, write and speak English and comprehend the spoken language. Although not required for admission, for applicants whose native language is not English or who have not received a degree from a university or college where English is the primary language of instruction, it is important to demonstrate a strong capability in English. This can be done by self-reporting scores from the Educational Testing Service (TOEFL), Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic), the Cambridge Examinations and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or other services that provide a certified English-language proficiency examination.
To successfully complete the online application process, you must:
- Create a free account with CollegeNET to submit the application form online.
- Include payment of the application fee or submit a fee waiver request. (Waiver is included in the application)
- Upload a Statement of Purpose. Tips
- Upload an official electronic copy of your transcripts or online grade reports issued by your college or university. Updated grade reports for terms in progress are not required. Students who have been admitted and plan to attend Caltech will be required to submit an official copy of all transcripts from the Registrar's Office prior to enrollment.
- Register three individuals from whom you will request letters of recommendation.
- Upload a CV or Resume. Tips
In addition to a completed application form, applicants are required to submit several additional supporting documents. These include:
- STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
Provide a brief statement of your scientific and professional interests and objectives. Include a description of your past accomplishments that are not evident from the examination of other documents submitted. Report, if applicable, on any research in progress. The statement must be written by the applicant in English. It must not be written in another language and translated for the applicant by another person.
- LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
Three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with your academic and/or work performance are required for all applicants.
Transcripts from all colleges or universities attended are required. Transcripts may be sent directly from the Registrar of the institution you attended or transcripts issued directly to the applicant, and so marked, are acceptable, and can be submitted online following the electronic submission process. If you attended Caltech as an undergraduate, you must request an official transcript from the Office of the Registrar. We cannot obtain one on your behalf. Please provide an explanation of any nonstandard grading systems. International transcripts or records of all courses, seminars, and examinations, including grades, scores, grading scales, and conferrals of degrees, must be in English. All translations must be complete versions of the original records. An official transcript documenting the award of an undergraduate degree is required prior to enrollment in the graduate program at Caltech.
- RESUME OR CURRICULUM VITAE
Attach a CV or resume that includes the following, if applicable:
(1) Teaching, professional, and vocational experience (include military service, but omit summer or part-time work not relevant to your professional goals)
(2) Research experience
(3) Major academic recognitions, honors, and memberships in scientific, professional and honorary societies
(4) Professional activities
(5) Significant extracurricular activities
(6) Conference presentations
(7) Titles of publications, major papers, or theses authored or co-authored; if published provide citation. Do not upload the entire document as the admissions committee often does not have the time to read a large file. It is preferred that you either list or provide links or a URL where publications can be located.
Transcripts should be submitted online following the electronic submission process. For the purpose of applying, official, sealed copies of your transcripts are not required and scanned copies of an original transcript or university generated web printouts are accepted. Please note, however, that any electronic submissions must be official copies from the school or college attended. Hand‐typed listings of courses prepared by the applicant will not be considered. If admitted, official transcripts documenting attendance at each college and university and the degrees awarded will be required prior to enrollment in the graduate program at Caltech. If you attended Caltech as an undergraduate or as a graduate student in the past, you must request an official transcript from the Office of the Registrar. We cannot obtain one on your behalf. If you are currently enrolled, you may upload an unofficial copy of your transcript via REGIS. For nonstandard or international grading systems, please provide an official university key or legend with your transcript upload. International transcripts or records of all courses, seminars, and examinations, including grades, scores, grading scales, and conferrals of degrees, must be in English. All translations must be complete and certified versions of the original records.
Three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with your academics, research and/or work performance are required for all applicants. We prefer that you utilize the system functionality to register your reference writer following the online instructions. Once you register your reference writer, he or she will automatically be sent an email with instructions on how to upload a letter on your behalf. Applicants can view which letters have been received via the online checklist. Recommendation letters should address the following information:
- How well is the applicant known and in what capacity?
- Does the applicant have the intellectual capability, experimental ability, fundamental training, creativity, and motivation to be successful as a student at Caltech?
- Would the applicant be encouraged to do doctoral research under the recommender's supervision?
- If English is not the native language, how well does the applicant read, write, and converse in English?
- How does the applicant compare to any previous students who have come to Caltech for their graduate work?
Hints and Advice
Applying to graduate school can be mystifying, since you may not know what faculty are looking for when we read your application. Here are a few tips on the types of things that we are looking for in the different parts of your application.
- Start working on your CV. Tips
- Figure out what tests you need to take:
If your first or native language is not English and you don't have a degree from a US institution, you may need to demonstrate English proficiency with the TOEFL , PTE Academic , or IELTS
- Letters of Recommendation (three required):
Ask past research supervisors, academic advisors, and professors who know you well to write your letters of recommendation.
- Fellowships and Essays:
Apply for Fellowships - National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF)
- Work on your Essay and Statement of Purpose - Tips
- Send your Transcripts
- Make sure your recommendation letters have been submitted. You will receive a notification from Caltech when a letter has been submitted on your behalf. If they are not in yet, gently remind your letter writers.
- Send your application. Deadline for Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics is December 1.
- Applicants will be contacted to participate in an initial Zoom Interviews.
- School Visit:
Selected students will be contacted by the Option Manager for a trip to Caltech's campus, in which you will meet with select faculty and learn more about Caltech.
- Who to ask?
- Best: past research supervisors
- Good: academic advisors or professors who know you well
- Not ideal: professors who don't know you well (even if you got
an A in a class they taught)
- How to ask?
- Ask early! They might be able to suggest places to apply
- Explicitly ask if they can write you a "strong" letter
- Once you've decided where to apply, send your letter writers info:
- A list of places and deadlines to send letters (update regularly!)
- Your CV/résumé and a copy of your transcript, along with whatever extra information they ask for
- If you have any extenuating circumstances that might explain other parts of your application, consider asking your recommenders to mention them in their letters
- Don't think you'll get a fellowship? Apply anyway, if you can. It never hurts, and it's really useful when writing other applications.
- For US citizens, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) is a great opportunity. The application is due October 18, 2021 for life sciences.
- For more tips on applying for the NSF GRFP, check out this useful website. Even if you don't apply, you might want to check out the great example essays hosted here.
- Caltech maintains a list of list of external graduate fellowships that you can apply for. Take a look!
- Express your career goals and research interests
- Briefly describe any past research, emphasizing your contributions
- Explain why a particular program is a good fit for you
- Name drop professors who you might want to work with
- Ask people to look over your statement!
- Especially ask grad students, postdocs, and/or professors
- Get a friend to check for clarity and grammar
- Send your Statement of Purpose to your letter writers once you have drafts
- Be overly flowery—it's not an undergraduate application essay!
You can find more tips here.