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FAQs by prospective graduate students in PPPMB

Should I contact individual faculty before applying?

YES! We welcome correspondence from potential applicants who have a well-informed interest. Be sure to briefly describe your experience and your interests and how they relate to the research program of the faculty you contact. Inquire about the recruiting goals of those faculty for the coming year. Faculty input about individual applicants is extremely important to the decisions of our admissions committee.

Do admitted students join a lab right away or are rotations possible?

Admitted students may be offered the opportunity to join a specific lab right away or, for select PhD program admittees, the opportunity to carry out research rotations first. Joining a specific lab right away is an appropriate choice for students who are certain about the faculty member they want to work with and are eager to get an early start on their thesis or dissertation research. Rotations, 8-10 week research projects in different labs in the first year, are appropriate for students who are interested in multiple faculty research programs. In addition to helping students find the best matched research area and advisor, rotations expose students to different research approaches and can be valuable for getting to know people in different labs. Rotation opportunities are limited and offered on a competitive basis. In your personal statement, be sure to indicate the faculty member(s) you are interested in, and whether you have a preference for joining a lab right away or being considered for rotations.

Is funding included in all offers?

Yes, we will not make an offer of acceptance unless we can identify support for the full degree program.

Is there funding for international students?

Yes, international students accepted into our program are also offered full funding. Some funding sources, however, may only be used for U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Do I need to take the Graduate Record Exams (GREs)?


Do I need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)?

All applicants whose native language is not English must take the TOEFL or IELTS. Only students who have studied full-time for two or more years at a college or university in a country in which English is the native language and where English is the language of instruction are exempt from the TOEFL. The Graduate School has set strict minimum scores for admission.

Can I apply to be admitted for the Spring semester instead of in August?

Our admissions—and funding—operate on an annual cycle, with applications due December 1 for students to begin in August. The availability of funding at other times of the year is a major constraint, and difficulties may arise because of prerequisite courses that are offered in the Fall. However, in rare cases and at the request of a faculty member on behalf of an applicant, off-cycle (e.g., spring) admission may be considered.

Do I need a M.S. to apply to the Ph.D. program?

No. Also, admitted M.S. students can later petition to change to the Ph.D. program, and vice-versa.

Can I send unofficial test scores or transcripts to make the application deadline?

Yes, we will accept unofficial test scores or transcripts to ensure they arrive by the application deadline. Please contact the Graduate Field Assistant prior to sending unofficial documents. If admitted to the program, students must send official test score reports and transcripts before we finalize the acceptance offer.

What if I can not afford the application fee?

In cases of financial need, or for applicants from designated pipeline programs, the Graduate School will consider a request for a fee waiver. See the Application Fees page on the Cornell Graduate School website.