Frequently Asked Questions

Admissions FAQs

Application Process

What is the application deadline for PIBS?

PIBS accepts applications from early September to the December 1 deadline every year. Please apply the year before you wish to enter graduate school.

Do you review applications on a rolling basis?

No, PIBS reviewers don't begin evaluating applications until after the December 1 deadline.

Can I get a fee waiver?

Some applicants may be eligible for a waiver. Visit the Rackham Graduate School website for more information on fee waivers and grants. The University of Michigan is a member of the Big Ten Academic Alliance FreeApp. For more information and to request a graduate application fee waiver, please visit their website. Please note that in order to receive the Big Ten Academic Alliance FreeApp (formally known as the CIC FreeApp), you must submit a request to the Big Ten Academic Alliance well in advance of submitting your U-M application.

Academic and Testing Requirements

What is the required GPA?

Although there is no required minimum GPA, entering students have an average GPA of 3.5 (range 2.8-4.0).

What transcripts should I submit?

Are you attending or have you graduated from a U.S. Institution? Upload a scanned copy of your official transcript(s) to ApplyWeb for each Bachelor’s Master’s, Professional, or Doctoral degree earned or in progress (current or previous UM Ann Arbor students do not need to submit their UM Ann Arbor transcripts as they will be accessed internally). A downloaded transcript from your university student account is not an official transcript. You are not required to send official transcripts to Rackham Graduate School at the time of application. If you are recommended for admission, the Rackham Graduate School will require official transcript(s). Admitted applicants will receive an email notification when the official transcript(s) are required for submission.

Are you attending or have you graduated from a Non-U.S. Institution? Upload a scanned copy of your official transcript(s), front and back page, to ApplyWeb from each institution attended, including in-progress and/or non-degree coursework. A downloaded transcript from your university student account is not an official transcript. For any additional document requirements, please review the Required Academic Credentials from Non-U.S. Institutions for requirements on what to submit by country. You are not required to send official transcripts to Rackham Graduate School at the time of application. If you are recommended for admission, the Rackham Graduate School will require official transcript(s). Admitted applicants will receive an email notification when the official transcript(s) are required for submission.

Are you attending or have you graduated from both a U.S. and Non-U.S. Institution? Upload a scanned copy of your official transcript(s), front and back page, to ApplyWeb from each institution attended, including in-progress and/or non-degree coursework. A downloaded transcript from your university student account is not an official transcript. For any additional document requirements, please review the Required Academic Credentials from Non-U.S. Institutions for requirements on what to submit by country. You are not required to send official transcripts to Rackham Graduate School at the time of application. If you are recommended for admission, the Rackham Graduate School will require official transcript(s). Admitted applicants will receive an email notification when the official transcript(s) are required for submission.

If you are unable to upload a copy of your official e-transcript due to security settings, print a copy of your e-transcript, scan the printed copy, and upload.

Do I need to submit GRE scores?

No, PIBS no longer requires the GRE. 

Do I need to take the TOEFL test?

Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency and are required to provide an official score report. TOEFL scores are valid for two years. Rackham Graduate School offers a full explanation of this requirement (including details for exemptions).

What are the required minimum TOEFL scores?

Rackham Graduate School sets and publishes the minimum score requirements for admission consideration for all English proficiency exams, including TOEFL.

What are the institution and department codes?

The U-M Institution code is 1839 for TOEFL scores.
The PIBS department code is 45 for TOEFL scores.

Tips on Preparing Your Application

What should I include in my academic statement of purpose?

This is time to provide evidence of your extensive research experience. Be sure to include:

  • Descriptions of all research experiences. What was the overall goal of your project? What hypothesis did you test and how did you test it? Who did you work and interact with? What were your results? How were they significant and how did they fit into the overall goals of the lab?
  • Have you presented your work at a scientific conference or symposium? Are you a co-author on a scientific abstract or manuscript?
  • How will earning this PhD help you to achieve your goals?
  • Why Michigan and why PIBS? Are there specific PIBS programs or researchers of interest to you?

What should I include in my personal statement?

Let us know what makes you special.

  • How have your background and life experiences, including cultural, geographical, financial, educational or other opportunities or challenges, motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at U-M?
  • How will you contribute to the diversity of the Michigan student body? Have you been active in organizations or activities that promote diversity? What adversity did you overcome to achieve your academic and personal goals?
  • Is there anything that you want us to know when evaluating your application? For example, were there extenuating circumstances for low grades in a given semester? Do you have special needs?

What should I include in my Resume/CV?

In the required Resume/CV, be sure to include relevant academic and professional experience, research projects and any publications.

From whom should I request letters of recommendation?

At least one of your letters must be from a primary research mentor. Other letters may be from professors, the director of your academic program, or a research supervisor at work. Remember, it is important that your letter writers know you well and speak to your potential in research. Please do not request letters from postdoctoral fellows or graduate students, from non-research-related employment supervisors or from personal/family friends.

Note: Letters of recommendation must also be submitted by the December 1 deadline.

Choosing Faculty and Programs

How and where do I find PIBS faculty and research areas that are of interest to me?

To research our faculty, we encourage you to utilize our faculty search page. On this site, faculty research interests can be searched by topic or their name. You may contact any PIBS faculty listed on our website. You can also research faculty by exploring our 14 Ph.D. degree-granting programs.

How do I apply to one or more of the programs/departments in PIBS?

You can apply to all 14 programs/departments participating in PIBS with one application. On the application, you will be asked to select and rank two of the 14 degree-granting programs for review. You will enter your first choice program on the preliminary page of the application and later enter a second program of interest on the supplemental form. If you submit more than one application, only the first application we receive will be considered. No application fee refunds will be issued for subsequent applications. 

What if I change my mind about my program choices after I send in my application?

If you would like to change your program choices before applications are reviewed, please email us with your revised choices as soon as possible. Once you have accepted an offer at PIBS, you are free to rotate with and ultimately choose any of our 14 degree-granting programs.

Application and Admissions Statistics

How many students apply to PIBS each year?

During a typical application season we receive more than 1000 applications.

How many students are accepted to PIBS each year?

PIBS class size averages approximately 90 students per year.

How many international students are accepted to PIBS each year?

On average, 10% of our incoming students are non-U.S. citizens.

After Applying

How will I know that my application has been received?

After Rackham has received your application and fee they will send emails confirming receipt of your application and providing you with your U-M ID number. They will also include instructions for checking your status online. For details, see Rackham.

Please note: the PIBS office cannot help you check the status of your application (transcripts, letters) until you have submitted your application.

When will I know my application has been reviewed?

The PIBS Admissions Committee will review all applications that were submitted by our December 1 deadline. After the committee review, all applicants will be contacted by email with a decision. Applicants may be invited to interview (on campus or via Skype/phone) or declined admission.

When are your interview weekends?

PIBS hosts interview weekends towards the end of January/early February. Invited applicants will be notified as soon as possible.

When will I be notified of admission?

Admissions decisions will be made after all interviews have been completed. Applicants will be contacted via email as soon as possible with information regarding the status of their application.

Academic Accommodations

How does Rackham Graduate School accommodate applications from students with disabilities?

Both Rackham Graduate School and PIBS encourage students with disabilities to apply. Many services exist within the University to assist those with disabilities and help facilitate their success throughout graduate school. For more information on such services, please visit Rackham's Disability Resources page.

COVID-19 FAQs

University of Michigan resources, updates, and information regarding research and graduate students in light of Covid-19:

Will classes be moved online this fall?

While there remain many details to be developed over the coming months in close collaboration with the university community, the foundational expectations, announced March 12, include:

  • Most classes across the Ann Arbor campus will be taught in person.
  • Most moderate to small classes, seminars and discussion sections will be taught in person, while most large (lecture) classes will continue to be offered remotely. There could be variations by school and college for pedagogical purposes.

Additional details on the university fall plan can be found here: https://campusblueprint.umich.edu/fall-term-plan

Will PIBS research rotations be remote/virtual, or will they take place in labs as usual?

Assuming that U-M labs remain open, we expect that most or all PIBS rotations will be in the lab. If you are interested in a fully or partially virtual/online rotation, contact the rotation mentor to discuss whether that is an option. Visit the PIBS courses and rotations page for additional information. For the moment, the dates listed on that page apply to the PIBS Class of 2020, which is still engaged in rotations; we will update that page soon for your incoming cohort.

We are watching for further updates from Governor Whitmer and U-M President Schlissel, and we will adapt our research policies to the changing situation as quickly, as safely, and as equitably as we can.

Will the university require students to get vaccinated?

The university has not made an announcement that vaccinations will be required for all students registered for fall classes. However, U-M students choosing to live in Ann Arbor on-campus housing during the fall term will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and to have shared proof of their vaccination with the university unless they have a documented exemption. The Vaccine Campus Maize & Blueprint page is a great resource for these announcements.

Will the university make the vaccine available to students this fall?

Our current recommendation to all students, faculty, and staff, is to make a plan to identify the closest and most convenient vaccination option for them through the array of locations the State of Michigan has made available. A list of resources can be found on the U-M Human Resources webpage. Currently you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Michigan if you are at least 16 years old. This includes international students, scholars and employees. If you are currently living in the U.S., you are eligible for the vaccine regardless of your immigration status as long as you meet any state requirements, such as age requirements. More information on receiving the vaccine and being added to the "Blue Queue" can be found here.

If U-M is under work-from-home conditions in the Fall, do I need to move to Ann Arbor, or can I work from where I am now?

Regardless of the state of research operations, we expect that all new students will be here, in the vicinity of Ann Arbor, at the start of their first PIBS rotation. If you are beginning your first rotation in the summer, your PIBS onboarding activities begin July 1. If you are beginning your first rotation in the fall, your PIBS onboarding activities begin August 26, the first day of PIBS Welcome Week. If moving to the Ann Arbor area before August 26 is likely to be challenging, we recommend deferring your enrollment to 2022.

How can I request a deferral to the PIBS Class of 2022?

To request a deferral, simply send us an email. Deferral guarantees your spot in the 2022 PIBS class. There’s no need to resubmit your application or provide any additional paperwork for a one-year deferral—just email pibs@umich.edu to let us know. Think carefully about whether you want to defer to 2022; unfortunately, we’re all in the position of having to make big decisions without knowing what the rest of the year will look like. After you inform us of your decision to defer your PIBS enrollment to 2022, any request to reverse that decision will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

What can I do in my deferral year?

Some trainees may elect to continue research at their undergraduate institution or current job. Some may engage in a new research opportunity. Alternatively, trainees may elect to work full or part-time, but PIBS is not able to offer placement services for deferring students. You may find certain skill-building workshops or local/online courses valuable during the deferment year. This may include programming or similar quantitative skill-building experiences. PIBS will not place additional requirements on students who elect to defer, and you won’t need to explain how you spent your gap year.