UCF Biology

Applying

Your Application Must Include:

1. A well-written letter of application, in which M.S. and Ph.D. applicants must identify a research faculty advisor

2. GRE scores from an exam taken within the last five years. Minimum scores are 50th percentile in both the verbal and quantitative sections.

3. College transcripts (GPA 3.0 or higher in last 60 hours)

4. Resume’ or CV

5. Three letters of recommendation

6. Online application

IMPORTANT:  Please note that the application deadline for all programs is January 15th. It is strongly recommended that potential students read “Before you apply” below, as it contains crucial information.

Before you Apply

1-2 Years Before You Apply:

1.    Gain some research experience as an undergraduate student – not only for a letter of reference from your supervisor, but because you should be able to answer “Yes!” when you ask yourself “Do I want to spend the next few years doing research?”  Having done it, you’ll have a better-informed answer.  Alternatively, gain some on-the-job or volunteer experience after you graduate.

2.    Earn at least a 3.0 (of a possible 4.0) grade point average overall and in your last 60 credit hours in a degree program similar to the B.S. in Biology at UCF.  If your degree was in a different discipline, then you should have core Biology courses on your transcripts (e.g., Cell Biology, Genetics, Ecology, Evolution).

3.    Be able to obtain three strong letters of reference that can attest to your potential to excel as a graduate student, maturity, and ability to work well with others.  Two of these letters should be written by people who have directly observed your work as a student, preferably while involved in research activities.

Within 1 Year Before You Apply:

4.    Earn a score > 300 (verbal reasoning + quantitative reasoning) on the revised GRE exam (see http://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/about for more information). This criterion is tentative until November 2011, when verified concordance between the former GRE and the revised GRE exam scores will be available. Regardless of the final UCF Biology criterion, the higher the score the better your chances. Analytical Writing scores are also considered but not computed as part of the entrance criterion – it is important that you complete that portion of the exam, too.

5.    Decide if you are interested in a Ph.D., Master’s (thesis), or Professional Science Master’s degree:

(a)    Ph.D. in Conservation Biology is best for students who are committed to a research-oriented career and who have some prior research experience (e.g., active research as an undergraduate, a M.S. thesis, etc.).  This is the most selective of our graduate programs, because it requires the most qualifications and because openings are most limited. Your research will be supervised by an advisor, and therefore you must match your interests to those of a potential advisor and obtain a commitment in advance from that advisor. You will take courses, but fewer than in a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, and you will write a thesis on your research.  The department supports Ph.D.  students with assistantships, tuition waivers, and health insurance.

(b)   M.S.  This degree prepares students for a career in science – conducting research, critically evaluating and analyzing data collected by others, and the publication and presentation of scientific results. It also prepares students for a Ph.D.  This degree is best for students with a Bachelor’s degree who want to conduct research but have relatively little research experience (e.g., you’ve done a little undergraduate research).  Your research will be supervised by an advisor, and therefore you must match your interests to those of a potential advisor and obtain a commitment in advance from that advisor.  You will take courses, but fewer than in a Bachelor’s degree, and you will write a thesis on your research.  The department supports MS students with assistantships, tuition waivers, and health insurance.

6.    For the M.S. or the Ph.D., you MUST contact a faculty member to develop a rapport and eventually obtain a commitment from that advisor to supervise your progress.  Start by checking their interests on the Biology website, reading their publications, then send a formal letter of introduction and a resume or curriculum vitae, and follow-up with email, phone calls, and ideally a campus visit.  Take the time to get to know your potential advisor and graduate students – you will be working with them for several years.  When you apply, you should be able to answer these questions:

(a)    Do you wish to conduct research related to that already published by this advisor?

(b)   What skills / advantages do you bring to the advisor’s lab?

(c)    Will you get along with the advisor?

It is vital for your application that a faculty member wants you to join their lab, otherwise, you will be not considered for a M.S. thesis track or Ph.D.

As You Apply

7.    Make sure that all the parts of your application are together. Besides completing the application (which includes a resume and other essentials), you will need to request each of the following be sent to UCF from others:

(a)    official transcripts for your undergraduate (and if applicable, M.S.) schools.

(b)   three letters of recommendation, including two from people who can attest to your academic skills.

(c)    GRE scores (and TOEFL scores, if applicable)

8.    Ensure that your potential advisor knows you have applied.

If you have further questions after reading the above, please contact the Biology Graduate Coordinator, Ken Fedorka (fedorka@ucf.edu or 407.823.6685)