How to Apply to the Biology Graduate Program

The Application for Fall 2024 is currently closed.


  • The Application for Fall 2024 will open on Cal State Apply October 1, 2024.

  • Please contact the faculty members whose research interest you directly. Research by Discipline

  • We admit only those applicants who have been invited to join the lab of a graduate faculty member.

Prerequisites & Admission Requirements

Prerequisites are the completion of a bachelor's degree and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0.

The minimum requirements for admission to graduate study in the California State University are in accordance with Title 5, Division 5, Chapter 1, Subchapter 3, of the California Code of Regulations. The University has the right to require higher standards than the minimum requirements published in Title 5.

To meet minimum eligibility standards for graduate study at SF State, an applicant must:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, or shall have completed equivalent academic preparation as determined by the appropriate campus authority;
  • Be in good academic standing at the last college or university attended;
  • Have a 3.0 GPA in their earned undergraduate degree or in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units completed, or have earned a post-baccalaureate degree;
  • Meet additional departmental requirements.


For applicants that do not hold an undergraduate science degree...
There aren’t an established set of prerequisite courses students must have to apply to our MA program. However, we recommend students take the following courses: introduction to biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, cell biology, genetics and either calculus or statistics. It's more important that students have a solid foundation in those subjects.

Application Steps

Apply to SF State using Cal State Apply.

Start preparing the following documents and eventually upload them to Cal State Apply application portal:

Personal Statement of Purpose

You will need to write a Statement of Purpose explaining why you want to attend this program.  You can upload this file as a (.doc, .docx, .pdf, or .rtf format). Prepare a two-page essay that discusses your interests and goals relating to your pursuing a M.S. in Biology. In this essay, please address the following:

Let us know a little about who you are. This can include where you are from, your upbringing, your educational experiences, or relevant stories that help us get to know you. Tell us about how your motivation to pursue graduate studies in Biology developed. Describe previous research or laboratory experience. Describe how participation in our program will benefit your educational or career goals. Identify which faculty members whose research matches your interests.


All-Science Transcripts

You will need to list of all the science courses you have taken on our All-Science Transcript Form.


Letters of Recommendation

You need a minimum (2) Letters of Recommendation. Letters of recommendation can be submitted through the evaluation tab in your application. 

Alternatively, letters of recommendation may be emailed to: - Subject: Letter of Recommendation for applicant {Your Name}


English Language Requirements

The Department of Biology does not require the GRE General or Subject Test. If you would like to submit your scores, you may do so; however, GRE scores are not used as criteria for admission.

Please note: International Students - See International Application Submission.

All graduate study applicants, regardless of citizenship, whose native language is not English must demonstrate English language proficiency. To demonstrate your English language ability, you should submit an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language testing System (IELTS), or Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic score report to the Division of Graduate Studies. If you earned a U.S. bachelor's or master's degree, the English language testing requirement will be waived.

The Division of Graduate Studies minimum TOEFL, IELTS and PTE Academic scores are:

    550 Total score on the paper based test
    80 Overall score on the internet based test (iBT TOEFL)
    Overall band score of 7.0
  • PTE Academic
    Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic overall score of 65

Please Note: We admit only those applicants who have been invited to join the lab of a graduate faculty member.

Begin to identify potential SF State faculty mentors you would like to work with by browsing the Biology faculty profiles to see what research interests you. Contact each faculty member (via email) whose research fits with your interests, and arrange an individual appointment to discuss opportunities in their laboratories.

We encourage you to be proactive. You will need to list the names of the faculty member on your application.

For those interested in applying to the Professional Science Masters (PSM) program, please review the Professional Science Masters website and email for more information.

The majors are:

  • Biomedical Science: Concentration in Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Science: Concentration in Stem Cell Science