Prospective students are encouraged to apply for graduate training in the Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology Interdepartmental PhD program. Admissions information can be found through the UCLA Graduate Programs in Bioscience website. In addition, STAR program participants will be admissible to the MCIP Interdepartmental PhD program if their research mentor is part of the MCIP faculty.

Successful applicants to the PhD program have received a bachelor’s degree in a biological or physical science. Applicants are expected to have completed prior to matriculation, college coursework in mathematics through calculus, college physics, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry and biology. Courses in cell and molecular biology are recommended. If an applicant lacks preparation in a recommended course, but has an otherwise outstanding academic record, the applicant may be admitted to graduate status provided that the deficiencies are corrected.

The following is the deadline for submitting all documents/materials for your application. Incomplete applications will NOT be reviewed:
December 1st Ph.D. deadline

The application process for the Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology (MCIP) Interdepartmental PhD program involves various elements. Please ensure you have submitted all the necessary application materials for graduate study for the MCIP PhD program at the University of California, Los Angeles. We recommend you start as early as possible to avoid any delays in processing your application.

You can begin your graduate admissions application online from the UCLA Graduate Division Admissions website here.

Complete the Basic Information, Biographical Data, and Citizenship.  Please be sure to apply to the correct Home Area for Plans for Graduate Study. Select “Doctoral” in the “Select a Degree” field and “PHD Bioscience–Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology” in the “Select a Program” field and click “Apply” button.   Complete other information on the page according to instructions provided.

Academic History and Transcripts

Scanned or digitized copies of your transcript(s) should be uploaded to the online application.  Applicants who studied outside the U.S. should review the detailed requirements for international academic records.

Official transcript(s) will be requested if admitted into the program.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores

  • Not required for Fall 2021 due to COVID-19
  • Students who wish to apply for admission to our graduate program for the 2021-2022 academic year are not required to take the GRE or submit a GRE score report as part of their application package. However, students may voluntarily submit GRE test scores and they will be reviewed as part of the holistic application consideration. The applications with GRE scores will not be given greater weight than those that do not include scores.
  • The UCLA GRE institution code is 4837.
  • Department/Major Code for MCIP is 0217.

English Language Proficiency

Applicants whose native language is not English should review the English requirements outlined by the Graduate Division.

These applicants must submit scores received on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Applicants who hold a Bachelor’s or higher degree from a university located in the United States or in another country in which English is both the primary spoken language of daily life (e.g., Australia, Barbados, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, United Kingdom) and the medium of instruction, or who have completed at least two years of full-time study at such an institution, are exempted from both the TOEFL/IELTS requirement.

Scores are considered valid for only two years, and, if several scores are submitted, only the most recent is considered.

TOEFL/ IELTS Scores (International Applicants only)

Minimum Required TOEFL Scores

Paper-based test: 560
Internet-based test (iBT): 87

Recommended section minimum on iBT
Writing: 25
Speaking: 24
Reading: 21
Listening: 17

TOEFL scores should be sent to the institution code for UCLA, 4837, as well as department code 74.

Minimum Required IELTS Score
Overall band score 7.0

English as a Second Language Placement Examination

Admitted applicants who have not met UCLA’s English language requirement must, upon arrival at UCLA, take the UCLA English as a Second Language Placement Examination (ESLPE), and English diagnostic test, before being permitted to register.  Depending on the results of the ESLPE, you may be required to complete English as a Second Language courses beginning in your first term at UCLA.  If English courses are required, you should anticipate spending a longer period at the University.

Admission is canceled for those who do not pass the ESLPE.

Fellowship Applications

The Graduate Division offers a number of special fellowships listed on the fellowship application screens of the online application. Applicants are encouraged to apply for fellowships for which they are eligible.

The Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship is intended to provide access to higher education for students who might otherwise find it difficult or impossible to successfully pursue graduate study. Individuals from cultural, racial, linguistic, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds that are currently underrepresented in graduate education are especially encouraged to participate in the program.

Eligibility for the Cota-Robles fellowship is limited to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and undocumented students who qualify for nonresident supplemental tuition exemptions under AB 540 and who are interested in a career in college or university teaching and research are eligible to apply for the Cota-Robles fellowship. Undocumented students registered under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are not eligible for fellowship funding unless they also qualify under AB 540.

To apply for the Cota-Robles fellowship, select the fellowship in the online application and complete supplemental application for diversity fellowships, including submission of a diversity statement. The supplemental application and diversity statement constitute your fellowship application.

Statement of Purpose

You are required to submit a Statement of Purpose describing your motivation for graduate training, your academic preparation, research experience, career goals, and other important experiences that have shaped your academic career and prepared you for graduate school. Statements are typically about 1 page, single spaced (500 words). You should describe your research interests in the context of the Home Area to which you are applying and other Home Areas relevant to your interests. You may also describe how your interests intersect with faculty members affiliated with these Home Areas.

The Statement of Purpose is an important way for you to convince members of the admissions committee that you are qualified and likely to succeed in a Ph.D. program. This is effectively done by demonstrating your aptitude, commitment, and passion for research with specific and detailed explanations of your background and experience.

Prompt: You do not need to answer every question; focus on the elements that you feel are most relevant to your candidacy.

  • What is your purpose in applying for graduate study in your specified degree program? Describe your area(s) of interest, including any subfield(s) or interdisciplinary interests.
  • What experiences have prepared you for advanced study or research in this degree program? What relevant skills have you gained from these experiences? Have your experiences led to specific or tangible outcomes that would support your potential to contribute to this field (examples: performances, publications, presentations, awards or recognitions)?
  • What additional information about your past experience may aid the selection committee in evaluating your preparation and aptitude for graduate study at UCLA? For example, you may wish to describe research, employment, teaching, service, artistic or international experiences through which you have developed skills in leadership, communication, project management, teamwork, or other areas.
  • Why is the UCLA graduate program to which you are applying is the best place for you to pursue your academic goals? If you are applying for a research master’s or doctoral program, we encourage you to indicate specific research interests and potential faculty mentors.
  • What are your plans for your career after earning this degree?

Personal History Statement

This 500 word (1-page, single spaced) statement is separate from the Statement of Purpose and serves to provide additional information about your background, accomplishments and life experience.  You will be asked to   describe how your background, accomplishments, and life experiences led to your decision to pursue the graduate degree in the Home Area for which you are applying. Include any educational, personal, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges or opportunities relevant to your academic journey. In addition, please describe any aspects of your personal background, accomplishments, or achievements that will allow the department to evaluate your contributions to the University’s diversity mission. Contributions to diversity and equal opportunity can take a variety of forms, such as efforts to advance equitable access to education, public service, that addresses the need of a diverse population, or research that explores inequalities.

Note: if you are having difficulty locating the Personal History Statement within the application, please upload it as a PDF or Word document in the Supplemental Documents section.

Prompt: Please respond to one or more.

  • Are there educational, personal, cultural, economic, or social experiences, not described in your Statement of Purpose, that have shaped your academic journey? If so, how? Have any of these experiences provided unique perspective(s) that you would contribute to your program, field or profession?
  • Describe challenge(s) or barriers that you have faced in your pursuit of higher education. What motivated you to persist, and how did you overcome them? What is the evidence of your persistence, progress or success?
  • How have your life experiences and educational background informed your understanding of the barriers facing groups that are underrepresented in higher education?
  • How have you been actively engaged (e.g., through participation, employment, service, teaching or other activities) in programs or activities focused on increasing participation by groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education?
  • How do you intend to engage in scholarly discourse, research, teaching, creative efforts, and/or community engagement during your graduate program that have the potential to advance diversity and equal opportunity in higher education?
  • How do you see yourself contributing to diversity in your profession after you earn your advanced degree at UCLA?

Additional Optional Statements

The UCLA Graduate Division places a limit of 500 words in the Statement of Purpose and Personal History Statement.  Our Admissions Committees will allow up to 2-pages in the uploaded statements.  If you feel more comfortable to only upload 500 words, you may also expand on your statements with the optional statements listed after you choose your “Plans for Graduate Study.”  These prompts are not required:

Research Experience and Interests (optional)

If you would like to provide more information related to your past research experience, current research interests, and long term goals, you can type an essay up to 1000 words in length. For past research experience, your essay should include the major problem being addressed, the specific aims/goals/questions your project addressed and how these help address the major problem, what approaches you used (no need to go into technical details), the results you obtained, and how these results advanced understanding of the major problem. It is acceptable to type an essay that includes and extends information in your Statement of Purpose.

Pathway and Motivation for Graduate School (optional)

If you would like to provide additional information related to the experiences and challenges you have encountered in your pathway to graduate school you can type an essay up to 1000 words in length. The admissions committee is particularly interested in those experiences that offer insights into your resilience, passion for research, and commitment to a career in science. It is acceptable to type an essay that includes and extends information in your Personal History Statement.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation must be submitted through the online application and received by the application deadline. You will enter the contact information for each recommender in the online application and indicate whether you waive your right to review the recommendation.  You may submit a fourth recommendation, but it is not required.

The system will contact recommenders with instructions for uploading letters. Notification emails can be sent prior to submitting your application. We strongly suggest that you discuss your request for a letter with each recommender before the system contacts them. Make sure to communicate the deadline, how the letter will be solicited, and, if not waived, discuss your right to review the recommendation.

Letters from research advisors, who can provide an informed assessment of your potential for independent research and creativity, are often the most influential in the review process.

Supporting Documents

Submission of a CV is encouraged but not required.

It is not necessary or required to provide a writing sample as part of your application.  You may upload a blank Word doc or PDF in that section of the online application.

Please do not upload additional supplemental documentation, such as publications, awards, and certificates. If you believe these are important to the admission decision, please identify and explain them in your statement of purpose.

Bioscience Home Area Section

The last page of the application is Home Area-specific and asks a series of questions.

  • Research Interests: Rank your interest in the research areas listed.
  • Home Area Interests: If you have a strong interest in a Home Area other than the one to which you are applying, you have the option of entering it here. You should also address this secondary interest in your statement of purpose.
    • It is not necessary to enter a secondary Home Area. You should only do so if your graduate research interests are broader than the Home Area you are applying to. This information will be used to better understand your background and interests. It does not imply or guarantee a secondary review of your application. All applicants may only apply to one Home Area.
  • Faculty Interests: Rank at least five MCIP faculty members according to your interest in their research.  If a faculty member that you are interested in is not in the drop-down menu, you may enter their name in the free-text boxes numbered 6-10.
  • Research Experience: Indicate the total number of months of research experience you will have or expect to have obtained as of the application submission deadline (December 1) as well as entry to the PhD program (September 1) in full-time equivalent months.
  • Extramural Fellowship Support: If you have received or expect to receive an extramural graduate fellowship, enter the sponsoring agency and amount/length/description of the support.

Application Fee and Fee Waiver Eligibility 

The application fee is $120.00 for U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents and $140.00 for all other applicants. The fee is payable by credit card only and is non-refundable.

Fee waivers are granted for students who participated in certain scholastic and research programs or who demonstrate financial need. The Graduate Division provides eligibility and documentation details. If you plan to request a fee waiver, you must upload the required documentation in the online application to ensure your application will be reviewed.

Eligible program fee waivers:

  • American Political Science Association Ralph Bunche Summer Institute Scholars
  • California Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP)
  • California State University (CSU) Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars Program
  • Florida A&M University Graduate Feeder Scholars Program (FAMU GFSP)
  • Gates Millennium Scholars
  • Guardian Scholars
  • Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP)
  • McNair Scholars
  • Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC)
  • Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF)
  • Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS)
  • Medical Scientist Training Program UCLA (MSTP)
  • National GEM Consortium
  • NIH-BUILD
  • NIH-PREP
  • Research Initiative for Science Enhancement (MBRS RISE)
  • STAR UCLA (STAR)
  • Summer Programs for Undergraduate Research (SPUR)
  • UC- HBCU Initiative
  • UC Leadership through Advanced Degrees (UC LEADS)

On-Campus Interviews

Selected applicants will be invited to interview with faculty members and graduate student representatives in the month of February. The Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology Faculty Administrative Committee will then decide on admissibility of the applicant based upon the application information provided, the interviewers’ recommendations, the availability of appropriate training faculty, and the availability of financial support.

If you have any additional questions about our PhD program please read the Graduate Programs in Bioscience admissions website and the MCIP website. If after reading this material you still have questions about our PhD program or about the application process, please feel free to contact our Graduate Student Affairs Officer, Yesenia Rayos, M.Ed. at yrayos@lifesci.ucla.edu.

More information may also be found at the UCLA Graduate Education website.