Departmental Admission FAQs

Q. What are the course requirements for application to your graduate program?

A. Most of our students have an undergraduate degree in the biological sciences and have taken college level courses in calculus, physics, and inorganic and organic chemistry. Skilled applicants who have not taken all of these courses are usually considered.

Q. How can I get an application form?  What other papers should I send?

A. Please see the Program Admissions page for details and step-by-step instructions. Electronic submission is highly preferred but a paper submission option is available for those who cannot submit electronically.

Q. Is there a required minimal GRE score?

A. GRE General and Advanced Subject Test scores (in Biology and Chemistry) are welcome, but not required. If submitted, there is no required minimal GRE score. 

Q. If I want to submit GRE scores, when should I take the GRE?

A. Choose a GRE test date that ensures your GRE scores will be transmitted to OSU by the November 30th application deadline.

Q. My GRE scores won't arrive until after the deadline... what should I do?

A. GRE scores are optional, so we will still review your application. If you would like us to evaluate your GRE scores, but they will arrive after the application deadline, please contact us by email or phone (614-292-8084) to inform us of the anticipated receipt date.

Q. What grades do I need to be competitive? In the past, what have been the GRE scores and GPAs of successful applicants?

A. Except for rare cases, students must have a GPA of 3.0 or above (on a 4.0 scale) from the last degree-granting institution for entry into graduate school at The Ohio State University. A GRE General Test score of 60% or higher is considered competitive for the Molecular Genetics program (but see below). International applicants with lower GRE scores may still be competitive, especially if they score well on TOEFL, MET, and/or IELTS exams (see Program Admissions).

  • In 2017-18, the average GPA of Molecular Genetics applicants invited to interview was 3.7 on a 4.0 scale (range of 3.2 - 4.0).
  • In 2017-18, the average GRE General test scores for Molecular Genetics domestic applicants invited to interview was 60% or above in all categories. However, the percentile range within each category for that group varied considerably: Writing (range of 18-93%), Quantitative (range of 35-92%), and Verbal (39-99%).  

Q. What's the TOEFL? Is this test required?

A. The TOEFL is the Test of English as a Foreign Language. The university requires any applicant whose native language is not English, who has been educated primarily outside of the U.S., and/or who has not received a degree from a U.S. university to submit official scores from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the digital Michigan English Test (MET), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). If English is your "first language", you probably won't need to take this test; the requirement primarily applies to international students who have not received a degree from a U.S. university.

Q. What TOEFL score is required for admission?

A. The minimum score requirements for the university are: TOEFL, 550 on the paper-based test or 79 on the Internet-based test; IELTS, 7.0; and online MET, 56 or higher. For the Molecular Genetics department, it is recommended that applicants have an overall TOEFL iBT score of 96, with a minimum score of 22 in each of the four sections (or comparable scores on other tests). Please see Step-by-step guide for more information about English language tests.

Q. Does Ohio State accept the TOEFL My Best Score?

A. In August 2019, ETS began offering the TOEFL My Best Score program, which super scores tests from multiple test dates. Ohio State is not accepting the TOEFL My Best Score, but will continue to use the highest score from any one test date.

Q. Does your graduate program offer application fee waiver in consideration of financial need?

We believe that an application fee should not be a hurdle for a deserving candidate to apply to our program. Application fee waivers are available via the following options:

  1. OSU’s fee waiver program ( offers waivers through a variety of programs (examples include McNairs Scholars Program, Summer Research Opportunities Program, SACNAS; full list available at the above link). Application fee is also waived for students invited to apply through the GPS Initiative. Processing of fee waivers takes time. So it is very important to take action in this regard well in advance of application deadline. Note: International students are not eligible for application fee waivers through these programs.
  2. The department also offers a limited number of application fee waivers to candidates who will be competitive in our application pool (irrespective of nationality). To request a fee waiver, please email the following documents to so that we can pre-evaluate your application: 
  • Ohio State graduate school application pages - (PDF or screen shots of completed application pages - just prior to the payment screen)
  • Current CV
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Copies of official transcripts - From all attended Institutions of Higher Education (unofficial copies are ok for this purpose)
  • English Language Testing Scores (for international students)
  • Any additional information that you would like to present to the Graduate Studies Recruitment Committee for consideration (Limited to no more than 1 page)
  • Letters of recommendation are NOT required at this time
  • Please include in Subject line: Graduate application fee waiver request – YOUR NAME

Once we receive these materials, we will make a decision quickly. If your request is approved, we will send you instructions to submit the application before the deadline without paying the fee. 

Q. I'm not sure what to include in the "Statement of Intent"... any tips?

A. The statement should provide information about the factors that have stimulated your interest in science and motivated you to pursue graduate work in the Molecular Genetics department. Information about undergraduate and/or graduate research experiences should be included, with emphasis on the most influential experiences that have prepared you for graduate research. You may also indicate research specializations you find most interesting and describe your current long-term career goals. Check out the following Science ariticles for additional tips: "Guidance for developing your personal statement for graduate school applications" and "Adding substance to your personal statement". You might also find useful an undergraduate workshop webinar entitled "How to write effective personal statements for graduate school applications". “Additional guidance and resources for writing an effective statement, and many more tips for graduate school application process, are available from the Graduate Student Mentorship Initiative (GSMI).”

Q. Do you offer your graduate program at any campuses other than the main Columbus campus?

A. No, our graduate program is available only at the Columbus campus. 

Q. Is undergraduate research a requirement?

A. No, research experience is not required, but it is highly recommended. Please list your research experience in your CV and emphasize the most influential experiences that have prepared you for graduate research in your Statement of Intent.

Q. How many students do you admit each year?

A. We usually accept 6 to 8 graduate students per year, depending on the quality of applications we receive and the funding opportunities available.

Q. Do you only admit students in the autumn semester?

A. Almost all students enter in the fall semester as our curriculum starts at this time. In special circumstances, we allow students to start in other semesters.

Q. How many graduate students are usually in your program?

A. We had 34 students as of Autumn 2018.

Q. Do you offer financial support in the form of graduate teaching associateship, research associateship, or fellowship?

A. Yes to all three. We generally offer a stipend and paid tuition to all of our accepted students and only rarely have any self-supported students. 

Q. Is there a special form I need to fill out to be considered for an associateship and/or fellowship?

A. No, there is not a separate form. There is an area on the OSU application form to "check" if you wish to be considered for this funding. Some applicants may be eligible for competitive university-wide fellowships that provide a higher stipend during the first year. Students meeting eligibility requirements for these university-wide fellowships will be nominated by the department and no additional information beyond what you provide in your application is required. We ask that all applicants complete the optional section on the graduate school application that asks how you would bring diversity (broadly defined) to the Ohio State campus; this section is required for all applicants who wish to be considered for Enrichment fellowships. 

Q. Who can I contact to find out what materials have (and have not) been received for my application folder?

A. Contact Debbie Lipp by email (, or phone 614/292-8084 during business hours.

Q. Do your alumni find postdoctoral positions and jobs afterward?

A. Yes, our students are finding excellent post-docs and jobs. See our Recent Graduates page. The majority (60%) of Molecular Genetics graduates who entered the program since 2005 took a postdoctoral position as their first position after graduation, after which they commonly transitioned into faculty or industry positions. Most others went immediately into faculty positions, or took lecturer, academic research associate, or industry positions.