Rice University
BioSciences at Rice

Graduate Program in Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Admissions & Financial Support

Contact email for Admissions: bioc-gradapps@rice.edu

Program Description
How to Apply
Financial Support  

Program Description

The Biochemistry & Cell Biology graduate program faculty members are committed to training and mentoring graduate students to reach their full potential as scientists. We seek to facilitate students’ progression towards fulfilling and exciting careers in academia, industry, or government, and to develop their skills as future leaders in science and society. Our program builds a strong foundation in modern biochemistry and cell biology, while developing critical thought and independence to ensure competitive preparation for a future research career. Formal course work is developed through consultation between the student and an advisory committee of faculty members. Faculty have research expertise in diverse areas including biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology, cancer biology, cell and developmental biology, computational biology, genetics, microbiology, neurobiology, plant biology, signal transduction, and synthetic and systems biology. Entering students conduct three research rotations before selecting a thesis advisor in the second semester.

The Rice Biochemistry & Cell Biology graduate program is designed for students who wish to pursue the Ph.D. degree. The program admits students for fall matriculation only. The most current version of the BCB Graduate Program Handbook (pdf) provides a detailed description of the graduate program, including all degree requirements and program expectations. For general university requirements, view the Rice University General Announcements.


How to Apply

Application for Fall 2019 Admission Opens: September 2018

Application Deadline
  • Applications submitted by December 1 will be prioritized for early evaluation.
  • The application deadline is December 31.
  • Candidates who miss the early evaluation deadline will be in a less competitive position. 

Admission to the graduate program includes a research stipend. The application to the program covers both admission and the research stipend; there is NOT a separate financial aid application for the Biochemistry & Cell Biology doctoral program. 


Application Materials (All below items are required for a complete application)

Online Application form:  Rice Biochemistry & Cell Biology Graduate Program Application
 Please note that applicants applying to more than one graduate program must submit separate applications for each program.  

Official Transcripts: All offers of admission are contingent on receipt of the official transcript or transcripts of all previous college or university work (including previous graduate study). Official transcripts should be sent directly to the BioSciences Department (address below) by the institution or institutions attended. An unofficial transcript may be uploaded to the online application for preliminary evaluation, but once an applicant is selected for an interview, the official transcript must be submitted. A final transcript, covering work in progress at the time of application and any later work, must be furnished to the Department as soon as possible (if not submitted as part of the original application).

Recommendation Letters: Recommendations should be requested from four persons (preferably professors in the applicant's major field) who know the personal and scholastic qualities of the applicant. Letters should be submitted online through the application software. Applicants can send requests to recommendation writers directly through the application. If the online option is not selected, hard-copy forms for recommendation letters can be requested at bioc-gradapps.rice.edu. Hard-copy letters should be mailed by the writers directly to the BioSciences Department. Applications will not be reviewed until at least three recommendations are received.

› Personal Statement
A personal statement is required for all applications. Personal statements can be uploaded directly to the online application in PDF format. The personal statement should include a brief description of the applicant's intended plan of study or the particular sub-division of the major field in which the applicant would like to specialize. The statement should also include discussions of any scholarly research, writing, or similar research completed or in progress. Applicants should include in the statement any other information that may be helpful in evaluating the application. If applicable, applicants should briefly describe any additional factors that they would like to have the admissions committee consider in evaluating the application (e.g. personal background, work experience, leadership roles).

GRE: Applicants should have their scores on the aptitude portion of the Graduate Record Examination sent directly to the BioSciences Department by Educational Testing Service using the below codes. Subject-matter test scores are preferred, but not required. Tests should be scheduled at least six weeks before the application deadline.

  • Institutional Code is 6609
  • Department Code is 0202

TOEFL: Applicants whose native language is not English should also have TOEFL scores reported using the below codes. The minimum scores for each type of TOEFL test are 600 (paper-based test), 250 (computer-based test) and 90 (Internet-based test).  For students who choose to take the IELTS in lieu of TOEFL, the minimum score is 7. 

  • Institutional code is 6609
  • Department code is 34

Application Fee: An application fee waiver is available for United States citizens and permanent residents. If you are in this category, please request a fee waiver before submitting your application by sending an email to bioc-gradapps@rice.edu. In addition, fee waivers are granted to students participating in certain programs (e.g., McNair Scholars, Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium (GCURS), Mellon Mays Fellows, Project 1000, Nankai University Hundred Young Teachers Program, Vietnam Education Foundation). Please indicate participation in such programs in the University Programs and Fellowships field in the application to receive one of those waivers. If you are an international student, your application will not be processed until the application fee is received. Fee waivers usually cannot be granted to international students.


Minimum ScoresGRE: There is no set minimum score for the GRE. The admissions committee examines GRE scores on a case-by-case basis. The entire application is considered, including GRE scores, GPA, recommendation letters, and research experience. Therefore, a low evaluation in one area can be offset by very strong evaluations in the other three areas. Only the admissions committee can make this evaluation. GRE subject-matter tests are not required, but a high score on a subject test in a relevant field will strengthen your application.

GPA: In general, applicants should have at least a 3.0 (B) grade point average in their undergraduate work. 

TOEFL: Minimum TOEFL scores are 90 (iBT), 600 (paper-based), 250 (computer-based).


International Student ApplicantsThe Biochemistry & Cell Biology Graduate Program seeks diversity in its graduate student body, and international students are welcome to apply. Our average intake of international students is generally approximately 1/3 of our incoming doctoral students. Applicants who have independent funding sources are encouraged to apply.

Application fee waivers will not be processed between December 23 and January 2. Applications requesting a fee waiver during this period will be processed after January 2.

Please have your transcripts and test scores sent directly
to the BioSciences Department at the address below:
Graduate Program Administrator 
Biochemistry & Cell Biology Graduate Program
Rice University, MS-140
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77251-1892
FedEx, UPS, DHL and other couriers:

Graduate Program Administrator 
Biochemistry & Cell Biology Graduate Program
Rice University, MS-140 
6100 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005

Admissions CommitteeAll students in our graduate program must be admitted through evaluation by the faculty members of the Biochemistry & Cell Biology admissions committee and by making application through our online process. Applications are made to the departmental graduate program and not to a specific faculty member or professor. Please DO NOT send application materials to individual faculty members.


Financial Support


Incoming students who do not hold external fellowships will be awarded a Biochemistry & Cell Biology Graduate Fellowship for their first year of study comprised of a full tuition waiver and a stipend to cover living expenses. The BCB graduate program annual stipend for the 2018-19 academic year will be $30,000, which is sufficient to live well as a student given Houston's low cost of living. Applicants DO NOT have to apply separately for financial aid; the application to the graduate program serves as the application for the graduate research fellowship.

Graduate student stipend levels are reviewed annually and periodically increased to maintain competitiveness with comparable institutions. If externally obtained stipends should fall below the program's stated level, a supplement is provided to bring the total to the annual program stipend. In addition, incoming first-year students may receive a bonus that can be used to assist with relocation or other expenses. 

Rice University also offers graduate student campus housing, which includes furnished apartments in a variety of floor plans and their shuttle service provides easy transportation to and from campus, nearby grocery stores, and shopping centers. Free high-speed internet access through the Rice network gives you access to Fondren Library’s online journals and databases. Many graduate students live within two miles of campus.