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.

Although the department offers an M.A. degree in biochemistry and cell biology, the program is designed for students who wish to pursue the Ph.D. degree. The most current version of the BCB Graduate Program Handbook (pdf) provides a detailed description of the graduate program. For general university requirements, view the Rice University General Announcements.


How to Apply

Application Deadline
  • Applications submitted by December 1 will be prioritized for early evaluation.
  • The application deadline is December 31.

This application will cover both admission and the research stipend; there is NOT a separate financial aid application for the Biochemistry & Cell Biology doctoral program. Candidates who miss the early evaluation deadline will be in a less competitive position. Applicants for admission to the graduate program must submit the following:

Application form:
  The Rice Biochemistry & Cell Biology online application.

Please note that applicants who are applying to more than one department must submit a separate application for each graduate program. 

Official Transcripts: All offers of admission are contingent on receipt of the official transcript or transcripts of all previous college or university (including graduate) work. These records should be sent directly to the department (address below) by the institution or institutions attended. An unofficial transcript may be uploaded to the application for preliminary evaluation, but once an applicant is selected for an interview, the official transcript will be due. A supplementary transcript, covering work in progress at the time of application and any later work, must be furnished as soon as possible.

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 may be submitted online if you select that option when you list your references on the application. If the online option is not selected, forms provided for this purpose should be mailed by the writers directly to the department. Applications will not be reviewed until at least three recommendations are received.

Personal Statement
Submission of a personal statement with your application materials is required; you may upload this document in the "Documents" section of the application in pdf format. Briefly describe your intended plan of study or the particular sub-division of the major field in which you wish to specialize. Discuss any scholarly research, writing, or similar research that you have done or are currently pursuing. Include other information that may be helpful in evaluating your application. If applicable, briefly describe any additional factors that you would like to have the admissions committee consider in evaluating your 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 department by Educational Testing Service. Advanced test scores are preferred, but not required. Tests should be scheduled at least six weeks before the application deadline.

    GRE codes:

  • Institutional Code is 6609
  • Department Code is 0202

TOEFL: Applicants whose native language is not English should also have TOEFL scores reported. 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

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 Scores
GRE: There is no set minimum score for the GRE. The Graduate Admissions Committee examines GRE scores on a case-by-case basis. The entire application is considered, GRE scores, GPA, letters of recommendation, and research experience. Therefore, a low evaluation in one area can be offset by very strong evaluations in the other three areas. Only the Graduate Admissions Committee can make the evaluation. GRE subject 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 Students
The BCB graduate program seeks diversity in its graduate student body. Our average intake of international students is generally about 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, therefore, requests for online letters of recommendation also will not be sent to recommenders until after January 2.

Please have your transcripts and test scores sent directly
to the department at the address below:
Graduate Admissions Coordinator
Biochemistry & Cell Biology Graduate Program
Rice University, MS-140
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77251-1892
for FedEx, UPS, DHL and other couriers:
Graduate Admissions Coordinator
Biochemistry & Cell Biology Graduate Program
Rice University, MS-140
6100 Main Street
Houston, TX

Admissions Committee
All students in our graduate program must be admitted through the Admissions Committee by making application through our online process; you do not apply to a specific professor, but to the departmental graduate program. Please DO NOT send application materials to individual faculty members.


Financial Support


Incoming students who do not hold external fellowships will be awarded a Rice University 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 2017-18 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; when you apply to the departmental program, you are applying for the graduate research fellowship.

Stipend levels are reviewed annually and periodically increased to maintain competitiveness with comparable institutions. If externally obtained stipends should fall below the department's stated level, a supplement is provided. Incoming first-year students often receive a bonus that can be used to assist with relocation or other expenses. Additionally, graduate student campus housing is available.