Admissions Requirements for Bioinformatics Ph.D. Program

Admission is in accordance with the general requirements of the graduate division. Candidates should have a quantitative or computational track record and a passion for working on challenging research questions in interdisciplinary areas across biology, medicine, computational sciences and engineering. The most competitive applicants have an undergraduate degree majoring in any of the disciplines in the biological sciences, the physical sciences, computer science, or mathematics, and a strong background in the complementary disciplines.

Applicants must apply online at and must submit a completed UC San Diego Application for Graduate Admission (use major code BF76). Applicants indicate their priority interest in the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Track or the Biomedical Informatics Track; please see this page for further information on each track.

Please expand the sections below for more information.


UCSD offers an online application for the Bioinformatics & Systems Biology Graduate Program. Hard copy applications are not available. Apply online at (use major code BF76). The online application system opens mid-September.

Students are only admitted during the fall quarter. The Fall 2021 Application Deadline is Wednesday December 2, 2020. Applications with fee waiver requests are due a week earlier.

Please send test scores to

  • Institution Code 4836 (UC San Diego)
  • GRE Department Code 0224 (Bioinformatics)
  • TOEFL Department Code 69 (Engineering, other)

For further admission information, students should see the Admissions FAQ or contact the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology graduate coordinator via e-mail at or at (858) 822-0831.

To check the status of application materials that you have submitted, please email the Graduate Coordinator with your Name, Date of Birth, and Email Address used on your application. An email containing the status of your application will ONLY provide information verifying receipt of supplementary materials (transcripts, letters, etc.). Official notification of admission is distributed directly from Graduate Division.

Admission review will be on a competitive basis based on the combined elements of the application, which include:

  • Undergraduate / graduate transcripts (English translation must accompany official transcript written in other languages)
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test scores (optional for Fall 2021 admissions cycle; see notes below)
  • TOEFL scores (required ONLY for international applicants whose native language is not English and whose undergraduate education was conducted in a language other than English)
  • Statement of Purpose
  • 3 Letters of Reference from individuals who can attest to the academic competence and to the depth of the candidate’s interest in pursuing graduate study
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Short answers to questions
  • Additional Educational Experience (optional; categories include: Community Involvement, Leadership, Overcoming Adversity, Personal or Professional Ethics, Research, Social Justice Experience, Other)

All applications will be screened and evaluated by the Admissions Committee with input from program faculty. Important factors in the holistic review of the application include:

  • Nature and quality of the undergraduate program
  • Undergraduate track record and other scholastic achievements
  • Preparation in quantitative and biomedical subject areas
  • Proficiency with computation
  • Previous research experience, if any
  • Publications, if any
  • Evidence of qualities needed for success in graduate programs such as motivation, initiative, independence, commitment, and career plans
  • Interest in the program faculty
  • Additional educational experience
  • Interviews

Strong applications will demonstrate aptitude for critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, computational and/or research experience, community engagement, motivation, initiative and perseverance.

  • Due to the impact of COVID-19, GRE General Test scores are optional for applications for Fall 2021 admissions. We encourage applicants to use GRE scores to the best effect for their applications. For our program, GRE General Test scores are considered as evidence of quantitative and analytical reasoning abilities. We encourage reporting of scores that provide support for this. Further context can be provided in the Statement of Purpose.
  • The application form for Fall 2021 admissions includes an optional COVID-19 Personal Statement section to address any impacts due to COVID-19.
  • For applicants who are required to take the TOEFL iBT or IELTS, we have added additional options for applications for Fall 2021 admissions: the PTE Academic; the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition; and the IELTS Indicator. See more info here.

Have questions about applying to UCSD's bioinformatics graduate program? Questions about how to improve your application for BISB? Current PhD students in the UCSD Bioinformatics and Systems Biology (BISB) and Biomedical Informatics (BMI) graduate programs are holding a student panel to answer your questions about the admissions process for the programs, and tips to make your application stand out. We will do a short introduction and then a panel of students will give guidance and answer questions submitted on the registration form before moving into a live Q&A on how to improve your application. If you would like to attend, please register using the link below and check out some of the resources and advice we have put together for you. We hope to see you at our student panel!