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Resources for Prospective Graduate Students

What we look for

For our incoming students, we mainly look for strong indications of potential success as a graduate student, including:

  • Competitive GRE scores (verbal and quantitative scores in the upper 50th percentile and analytical writing score of at least 3.5) and GPA above 3.0. For applicants to doctoral programs who hold a M.S. degree in Biology or a related discipline, entrance requirements may be more flexible (contact program director for details).
  • Three letters of recommendation that describe your experiences and expertise in a way that allows the admissions committee to judge the probability that you'll succeed in a graduate program; it's not critical that all the recommendation letters come from academics, but it is important that they all provide evidence of analytical ability, perseverance, and other skills that would lead to success in grad school.
  • Prior training commensurate with completion of a B.S. degree in Biology or a related field. Students who lack sufficient training may be asked to take remedial courses as part of their graduate training.
  • A letter of intent with your statement of goals while in graduate school. This allows the admissions committee to see your previous experiences that have prepared you for graduate school and to help develop a preliminary program of study to help you achieve your goals.
  • TOEFL score above 577 (paper-based), 233 (computer-based), or 90 (internet-based), if the applicant's English is a second language and a graduate teaching assistantship is requested.
  • Availability of financial assistance. We make every effort to arrange for a graduate teaching or research assistantship (GTA or GRA) or fellowship for students recruited in to our programs - these include tuition, fees, and a stipend.
  • The availability of a suitable faculty mentor; we recommend that you establish communication with a biology professor that has a research program consistent with your career aspirations and interests. Doing this before submitting an application streamlines the application review process.

Graduate degree programs offered by the Department of Biological Sciences include:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biology. The Ph.D. in Biology is designed to prepare graduates for careers in the biological sciences, working in academia, industry, and government research labs.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Microbiology. The Ph.D. in Microbiology is designed to prepare graduates for careers in the biological sciences, working in academia, industry, and government research labs.
  • Doctor of Arts (D.A.) in Biology. The D.A. in Biology stresses preparation for undergraduate teaching at colleges and universities and the development of research abilities that complement instruction at the college level. The program is designed to provide the student with a broad background in the biological sciences, the ability to conduct and interpret research, and excellent pedagogical skills. All D.A. students are eligible for D.A. Fellowship support, which includes full tuition, benefits, and a stipend (contact the biology graduate programs director for details).
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology. The M.S. in Biology degree is designed to enable students to develop an advanced understanding of the biological sciences and the capability to teach or conduct research. Programs are flexible and can be tailored to satisfy the professional and goals of each student, preparing students for careers in industry or for advanced study in the life and health sciences.
  • Master of Science (M.S.) in Microbiology. The M.S. in Microbiology qualifies students for technical research positions in academia, industry and government research facilities. It also prepares students to progress into doctoral programs in Microbiology and related areas.
  • Bachelor of Science/Master of Science (B.S./M.S.) in Biology. The goal of this ("4+1") option is to allow academically strong students to begin work towards an M.S. degree after completing the Junior year. This will allow students to complete an M.S. degree, as well as a B.S. degree, with only one additional year in school. It prepares students for careers in science and for graduate programs in the life sciences.
  • Interdisciplinary degrees. Idaho State University offers students the opportunity to pursue an interdisciplinary master's degree. The degree sought and the field appearing first in the title of the program will be that of the department providing the major portion of the graduate credits. Other fields in the title will be secondary fields of concentration.


The ISU Graduate School application deadlines are April 1st for summer and fall semester enrollment and November 1st for spring semester enrollment. Biology graduate programs will use these application deadlines, admitting students as applications are complete. However, to be considered for financial support (a biology graduate assistantship or fellowship), submission of application materials for fall semester should be completed by December 1 (to be considered for an early offer of financial support) or January 15 (regular offer deadline). Application materials submitted after January 15 will be conside red, but financial support may not be available.

How to apply

Applications for all ISU graduate programs use the new ISU Graduate School application system. Please notify the department of an application submitted to the graduate school.

Graduate Catalog

Keeping in touch after you apply

For questions about biology graduate programs, the application process, or financial support, please contact Dr. Colden Baxter. For updates on your graduate application, please contact Noreen King.

Pocatello is the last undiscovered mountain college town in the west, with outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities and the ease of living in a small city. The Poky region (population ~50,000) offers the amenities, shopping, and culture that you would expect in a university town. Pocatello offers a very low cost of living, and is considered very safe. Salt Lake City, Boise, Jackson Hole, West Yellowstone, and Sun Valley are all 2-4 hours away. The city is surrounded by the Portneuf Range of the Rocky Mountains, which has provided scenic research sites for many biology graduate student research projects.

Idaho State University, a Carnegie-classified "Doctoral Universities: Moderate Research Activity" institution founded in 1901, attracts students from around the world to its Idaho campuses. At the main campus in Pocatello, and at locations in Meridian, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls, ISU offers access to high-quality education in 250 programs. Over 14,000 students attend ISU, receiving education and training in those programs. Idaho State University is the state's designated lead institution in health professions and medical education. Learn more about ISU.


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