Graduate Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

When is the application deadline?
The application deadline for Fall 2022 is Wednesday December 1, 2021.

Note: Applications with fee waiver requests are due a week earlier; see here and here for more information.

Does the program offer ONLY Fall admissions? When is the next admission window?
Yes. Fall 2022.

Is there an online application available?
Yes. Please apply online at https://gradapply.ucsd.edu using major code BF76. The online application system opens mid-September.

What do I need for my application?

  • Please read What You Need to Apply on the Graduate Division site.
  • Three letters of recommendation. You'll provide the names and contact info through the application site, https://gradapply.ucsd.edu, and the letter writers will submit their letters electronically through that site.
  • GRE General Test scores for all applicants, and TOEFL or IELTS exams for most foreign applicants (see more info below under “GRE and TOEFL scores”). Prospective students should take these exams in time for scores to arrive by the application deadline. Please request ETS to send official scores to:
    • Institution Code 4836 (UC San Diego)
    • GRE Department Code 0224 (Bioinformatics)
    • TOEFL Department Code 69 (Engineering, other)
    • The institution code is required. You may enter the department code, but it is optional.
    • Note: Due to the impact of COVID-19, GRE General Test scores are optional for applications for Fall 2022 admissions.
  • Official transcripts of prior institutions attended. Your scanned and uploaded version of your transcripts will suffice for our review process. Those that are invited for an interview will be asked to send your official transcripts.
  • More information:

Is there any supplementary application form that I should fill out in addition to the online application?
No, there is no supplementary application needed when applying to the program; just the online application and submission of all official documentation is needed.

What is UCSD's application fee?
The non-refundable application fee is:

  • US Citizens and Permanent Resident Applicants: $120.00
  • International Applicants: $140.00
  • For information on fee waiver requests, see Application Fee and Waiver. Note that fee waiver requests require submitting the application a week earlier than the regular deadline. However, recommendation letters are still due at the regular deadline.

Which research track should I apply for?
Please see this page for information on the two tracks, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology (BISB) and Biomedical Informatics (BMI). On the application form, you will need to select a track as well as faculty you are interested in working with.

What are the UC San Diego Institutional and Department codes?
Please direct Educational Testing Service (ETS) to send test scores to

  • Institution Code 4836 (UC San Diego)
  • GRE Department Code 0224 (Bioinformatics)
  • TOEFL Department Code 69 (Engineering, other)
  • The institution code is required. You may enter the department code, but it is optional.

We do not receive IELTS results electronically as we do TOEFL, so students must direct IELTS to send an official hard-copy of their results to UCSD. See more info here.

In applying for the Bioinformatics Graduate Program, does an applicant need to supply any particular GRE Subject test score?
No, the subject GRE is not required; only the GRE General Test is required.
Note: Due to the impact of COVID-19, GRE General Test scores are optional for applications for Fall 2022 admissions.

How long are GRE and TOEFL scores valid?

  • Educational Testing Service (ETS) will report GRE scores for 5 full years, only. For specific information, visit the GRE website.
  • If required, the TOEFL or IELTS scores cannot be more than 2 years old.

What are the past average scores for accepted applicants?

  • GRE Verbal: 87.9 (percentile)
  • GRE Quantitative: 87.4 (percentile)
  • GRE Analytical Writing: 78.1 (percentile)
  • Undergraduate GPA: 3.64

Is the TOEFL exam required?
The TOEFL or IELTS exams are required for international applicants whose native language is not English and who have not studied full-time at a university-level institution in an English-speaking country for one uninterrupted academic year. Note that U.S. residence and/or work experience are not substitutes for meeting the requirement. See more info here.

  • The minimum TOEFL score accepted by UCSD is 85 (iBT - Internet-based exam), 213 (computer-based exam) or 550 (written exam).
  • The minimum IELTS band score accepted by UCSD is 7.
  • Note: Due to the impact of COVID-19, we will accept the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition test scores and IELTS Indicator test scores for the Fall 2022 admissions cycle. The university-wide minimum scores are the same as for the in-person versions.

Which research track should I apply for?
Please see this page for information on the two tracks, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology (BISB) and Biomedical Informatics (BMI). On the application form, you will need to select a track as well as faculty you are interested in working with.

Do I apply through one of the participating Departments to get into the Bioinformatics & Systems Biology Graduate Program?
No. You may apply directly to the Ph.D. Bioinformatics & Systems Biology Program (major code BF76). If you are interested in one of the majors with a Specialization in Bioinformatics, please contact the department and apply through the respective department. Please note that other programs/departments have different application deadlines. For more information on the degrees with a specialization in Bioinformatics see here.

Does UC San Diego offer a master's program in Bioinformatics? If not, are there any plans of having a master's program?
No. We currently do not offer a master's program, nor do we intend to establish a master's program.

Can one enter the Ph.D. program and receive a terminal master's degree?
No.

Is it possible to pursue the Ph.D. in Bioinformatics on a part-time basis?
Currently we are only accepting students into the program on a full-time basis.

Can I take Bioinformatics classes without being in the Bioinformatics Ph.D. program?

  • UCSD faculty (in collaboration with other schools) have created a Bioinformatics Specialization on Coursera. This is a series of online courses, with both free and paid options.
  • Local San Diego residents may be eligible to take UC San Diego Extension classes. Search the Extension site for Bioinformatics classes. The classes offered through Extension are separate from the regular classes for the UCSD Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Graduate Program.
  • Local San Diego residents may be eligible to take regular UC San Diego classes through Concurrent Enrollment. Contact the course instructor and the Concurrent Enrollment office for information. However, regular UCSD students have enrollment priority, and a decision on letting you enroll may not be made until after the class has started.

Current/former UCSD graduate students, please contact us before submitting your application (see the Contact information section below). There may be issues concerning the application fee, readmission, shortened program timeline, etc. This includes students from these types of programs, whether or not completed:

  • UCSD graduate programs (Master's, PhD, or other advanced degree programs)
  • UCSD BS/MS programs (the MS portion counts as a graduate program)
  • CLRE MAS program (although faculty are from the School of Medicine, the program is in Graduate Division)
  • MSTP MD/PhD program
  • Pharmacy and School of Medicine programs

If you are/were a UCSD undergraduate student or UCSD Extension student but not a UCSD graduate student, these complications would not normally arise, but please contact us if you have questions.

  • Email: bioinfo@ucsd.edu
  • Phone: (858) 822-0831
  • On campus: Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall, Room 141
  • Mailing Address:
    Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Graduate Program
    University of California, San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive, Dept. 0419
    La Jolla, CA 92093-0419