How to Apply

2024 Applications are now closed.

Approximately 10 students join the Ph.D. program each year. Students come from all over the world, with more than 20 U.S. states and 25 countries represented. The School encourages applicants with backgrounds in any area of biology as well as those with non-bioscience backgrounds, such as computer science, engineering, math, chemistry, and physics. Students must have received a bachelor’s degree or equivalent by the time they enroll in the program. The application consists of unofficial transcripts, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. Students from non-English language universities must submit TOEFL or IELTS test scores. The GRE general test and subject test(s) are not required. Applications must be submitted online by December 1st. For more information about the application process, read our Frequently Asked Questions.

The School recruits a diverse student group, including individuals from a range of academic, geographic, social, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. The program especially encourages students from groups not traditionally represented in the biological sciences. The School faculty and administration and the CSHL community work together to provide mentoring and guidance to ensure all students achieve their goals in the program.

The School is funded largely by an endowment provided by generous private donors. The Ph.D. program stipend is currently $45,000 per year. Students who are awarded an external fellowship—NSF, NIH, or other government or private organization—receive a stipend of $49,500, or the amount of their fellowships stipend (whichever is higher). The School pays all tuition costs and associated study fees for its students.  Students receive a new laptop and all necessary software and textbooks, roughly $3,500 of materials.  Once students join a research lab, they receive an $2,000 per year research cost allowance, intended to help support their thesis work, paid to their lab. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the School provide complete health and dental insurance, affordable on-campus child care, relocation costs, subsidized on-campus dining costs, and a $350 gym membership allowance.

See the brochure and catalog for more information.

Student support is made possible by generous funding from individuals, foundations, and institutions, including:

Ainslie Family Fellowship
George A. & Marjorie H. Anderson Fellowships
Anonymous Fellowship
A*STAR Graduate Scholarship
Bristol-Myers Squibb Fellowship
Cashin Foundation Fellowship
Crick-Clay Fellowship
Charles A. Dana Foundation Fellowship
Farish-Gerry Fellowship
Samuel Freeman Foundation Fellowship
Genentech Foundation Fellowship
Edward & Martha Gerry Fellowships
HHMI Gilliam Fellowship
Goldberg-Lindsay Fellowship
Florence Gould Fellowship
William Randolph Hearst Scholarships
Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds Fellowship
Ilan Gluzman Fellowship
Miriam and Alan Goldberg Fellowship
Annette Kade Fellowship
Jenny and Jeff Kelter Neuroscience Fellowship
David Koch Fellowship
Guru Krupa Foundation Fellowship
La Caixa Fellowships
Robert & Teresa Lindsay Fellowships
Elisabeth Sloan Livingston Fellowships
David & Fanny Luke Fellowship
William R. Miller Fellowship
National Institutes of Health Graduate Training Grant
NIH National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellowships
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Postgraduate Scholarships
John & Amy Phelan Studentships
Leslie C. Quick, Jr. Fellowship
Gonzalo Río Arronte Fellowship
Jordan and Thomas A. Saunders III Neuroscience Fellowship
Starr Centennial Scholarships

What are the admissions criteria?

Applicants must have received a Bachelor of Arts or Sciences or equivalent degree from an accredited university or college prior to matriculation. Selection for admission will be based on the perceived ability of the student to excel in this doctoral program. Suitable applicants will be assessed on the basis of their academic record, recommendations from their mentors, and an interview.

Should I contact CSHL professors about working in their laboratory before applying to the School?  Can I apply directly to a lab I am interested in?

All students must be admitted through the Program; an individual professor cannot offer a student admission to the School. It is not necessary to contact professors prior to admission to the School.

Some CSHL professors also have appointments with nearby Stony Brook University. You can consider applying to Stony Brook’s Pharmacological Sciences program as part of the application process, or directly to their other graduate programs.

When can I apply? When is the deadline?

Applications will be accepted online during the Fall term (September through December 1). There is only one admission cycle per year. The School’s academic year begins in August; other start dates are not possible. Without exception, the deadline for all application materials, including recommendation letters, is December 1. We do not accept any materials after the application has closed.

Is there an application fee?

Yes, the application fee is $20 (USD).

What are the guidelines for the personal statement?

In approximately 500 words, explain why you would like to undertake graduate studies at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Describe (i) why you want to pursue a career in the biological sciences, (ii) what your research interests are, and (iii) how the Ph.D. program at CSHL is best suited to help you achieve your goals. Please include details of research experience, employment, extracurricular activities, and any other information (e.g., publications) you believe to be relevant to your application.

What do I do with my transcripts?

The online application system will upload a scanned copy of your original transcripts, including an indication of the grading system as specified by your home institution’s registrar’s office. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable.

Does the School require official transcripts sent directly from my institution?

It is not necessary to send official transcripts with your application. When submitting your application, please scan and upload the most up-to-date unofficial transcript.

I have attended and received credit at more than one institution. Does the School need a transcript from each institution?

Yes, unofficial transcripts from all undergraduate and/or graduate institutions you have attended must be uploaded online. Please scan each individual transcript and merge the files into one document before uploading the information to the online application.

How do I list my grade point average (GPA) if my university does not use a 4.0 system?

If your grades are not based on a 4.0 scale, in the Academic History section of the application, please note the actual class mark you received. For instance, if your grades are calculated as a percentage, list your percentage, or if your grades are on a scale of 10 or 5 (or any other number), list the average mark you received. In addition, please convert your grade to a 4.0 scale by dividing your average mark by the maximum possible mark and multiplying by 4.0 (or if the scale used is inverted, ie. 1 is the highest mark, calculate the difference of your grade average from the highest mark, divide by the lowest possible mark, multiply by 4, and then subtract that from 4.0 – or use any other scaling operation you can come up with). There is no minimum GPA requirement.

If your undergraduate institution uses a British grading system, please use the following conversions for the 4.0 scale:

First class honors      =   4.0
2:1 (Upper second)   =   3.5
2:2 (Lower second)    =   3.0
Third class honors     =   2.3
Pass        =   2.0

What are the School’s GRE and TOEFL codes?

The GRE institutional code is 2856; the department code is 0299.
The TOEFL code is 9066; the department code is 45.
There is no minimum GRE or TOEFL score requirement.

The medium of instruction at my institution is English. Do I have to report a TOEFL/IELTS score?

If you have received your undergraduate and/or Master’s degree from an institution whose primary language of instruction is English, you do not have to report a TOEFL/IELTS test score.

How do I send IELTS score information?

We do not accept IELTS scores electronically. The information may be mailed to the School at:

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Urey Cottage
One Bungtown Road
Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724

How can I confirm if the School has received my test scores?

Due to the high volume of applications, the School Admissions Office cannot confirm if your score has been received. To ensure that your application information is complete by December 1, please self-report your GRE and/or TOEFL/IELTS information in the “Academic History” section of the online application.

What should I do about GRE and TOEFL scores if I’m also applying to Stony Brook programs?

Applicants are encouraged to report their GRE and TOEFL or IELTS scores to Stony Brook electronically.  The institution code is 2548. No department code is required. Stony Brook’s Graduate School strictly enforces an English proficiency requirement.

What if I don’t find my country in the application menu?

Some countries are listed under alternative names.  Try checking “Republic of…” or other variations of your country’s name.  If you are from Guernsey, unfortunately we ask you to select “United Kingdom” until the online application is updated.

When are the interview sessions?

If you are invited for an interview, the Admissions Office will notify you by email by the end of January. Interview sessions generally take place in the end of January through mid-February.  The School covers travel costs and provides accommodations and meals for all students invited to interview. An interview is required for admission to the School.

Can I submit my application before the letters of recommendation have been uploaded online?

Yes, applications may be submitted before the letters of recommendation are completed.

How do my referees submit the letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation are uploaded online to the online application system manager. When completing the application, you supply the email addresses of each of your referees.  Your referees will receive an email directly from the online application system with instructions on how to upload the letter of recommendation online. Please notify your referees that they will receive an email from the online application system, Embark, so it is not deleted or overlooked.  If your referee has not received the email, it is suggested to check the spam folder.

Can I submit additional letters of recommendation with my application?

No.  Three letters of recommendation may be uploaded to the application system manager. Faxed, mailed or emailed recommendation letters will not be accepted.

My referee missed the December 1 application deadline. How can he/she submit the letter of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation are not accepted after the application deadline. Faxed, mailed, or emailed letters of recommendation will not be accepted. Please remind referees of the December 1 deadline and encourage them to submit the letter in a timely manner. You should allow at least one month for your referees to write their recommendation letters.

Can I change my application after it has been submitted?

No. Once an application has been submitted, adjustments, additions, or revisions cannot be made. Please review your application carefully before submitting the information.

If you have additional questions, please contact gradschool@cshl.edu.