Page Title



Application Requirements

In addition to the Graduate School requirements, applicants must have evidence of a strong academic record in the biological sciences.

In your application you will be requested to address each of the following:

  • The degree you are seeking (Comprehensive study-based MS, Thesis-based MS, or PhD).
  • An explanation of how obtaining a graduate degree in our program fits your career goals.
  • A description of the qualities you possess that will contribute to your success.
  • A description of any relevant experiences you have had. If you have had research experience, it is important to include a letter of recommendation from your research adviser. (Particularly important for Thesis-based MS and PhD applicants)
  • A list of the areas of research in the department that interest you. (Particularly important for Thesis-based MS and PhD applicants)
  • The Department of Microbiological Sciences and North Dakota State University value and support individuals with diverse backgrounds, and experiences. Valuing our differences opens learning opportunities beyond the traditional classroom, resulting in a more rewarding education, research, and enhanced perspectives. Please write a statement that identifies the distinctive characteristics and/or life experiences, such as successfully overcoming obstacles or hardships, that you would bring to your graduate studies.

Note to Reference Letter Writers

Please indicate how you know and how well you know the applicant. Be specific about the applicant’s relevant academic skills, research skills, and personal traits, using illustrative examples whenever possible. Please put into perspective how the applicant compares to other students you have interacted with.

Admission Standards

Applicants are evaluated in each of five dimensions that are expected to impact performance as a graduate student:

1. Academic preparation

     a. Prior courses/degrees

     b. Communication

     c. English Proficiency - if applicable

2. Scholarly Potential

     a. Motivation for graduate study

     b. Prior Experience

3. Socio-Emotional Competencies

     a. Self-Appraisal

     b. Long term Goals/Accomplishments

4. Alignment with Program

     a. Alignment with Faculty research

     b. Alignment with program training

5. Alignment with Diversity Values of the department

Admission Process

The two admission pathways to our graduate programs – sponsored admission and general admission – differ primarily in the timing of mentor selection relative to graduate program admission (figure below). For sponsored admission, a mentor is identified before application for admission to one of our graduate programs. For general admission, mentor selection occurs after admission and completion of rotations.

Figure of admissions process
Photo Credit:
John McEvoy

Outline of the process for sponsored and general admission to graduate programs*


*Deadlines are not applicable for sponsored admissions. General admissions to the Microbiological Sciences Department follow the graduate school deadlines and other FAQ's can be found here.

Types of Admission

Financial Assistance

Students must first apply to the Graduate School and be accepted to one of our programs before they are eligible to receive an assistantship. Research assistantships are available to students enrolled in the thesis-based MS and PhD programs. Teaching assistantships are available to students enrolled in comprehensive study-based MS, thesis-based MS, and PhD programs. Research and teaching assistantships are limited, contingent upon the availability of funds, and awarded competitively


Frequently Asked Questions