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The Developmental and Stem Cell Biology (DSCB) Graduate Program trains students studying for the PhD degree. PhD students are admitted once each year for Fall quarter matriculation.

The online application for Fall 2017 is now CLOSED!! The application for Fall 2018 will open in September.


Students with backgrounds in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics and related fields, are welcome to apply, providing they have demonstrated a high level of academic proficiency (generally a grade point average of 3.2 or higher in relevant science courses). Evidence of exposure to scientific research, generally as participation in a research project during at least one summer, is regarded as an important attribute of the successful applicant. Such research experience might include an undergraduate thesis project, a laboratory internship, technician position, or summer research program in university or industry laboratories. A coherent account of such exposure is one of the key components of a successful application to the program.

The minimum requirement for application to the DSCB program is a Baccalaureate degree; a Master's degree is not a prerequisite for admission. There are no specific course requirements for admission, but courses in biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, chemistry, physics, computation, or related fields represent typical and highly appropriate preparation.

To apply to the program, complete the online application and arrange for at least three letters of recommendation to be submitted on your behalf. Scores from the GRE general test (and TOEFL for foreign applicants) and an official transcript from all institutes of higher learning attended are also required. A GRE subject test is not required, but is highly encouraged.

The Developmental and Stem Cell Biology (DSCB) Graduate Program is committed to providing access for all people with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodations as necessary. Applicants with disabilities who are invited for interviews will be offered reasonable accommodations. More information can be found on the Office of Student Disability Services website.

You may apply to only one UCSF graduate program in an academic year. It is therefore important to consider which program suits your interests and apply to only that program. Listed below are other graduate programs at UCSF in which many DSCB faculty also participate, along with a link to their respective websites. Each graduate program maintains its own admissions procedure.

DSCB shares some aspects of its curriculum with other UCSF programs due to overlapping research areas. However, DSCB is a distinct program that maintains a separate curriculum and separate admission process. If you are unsure which program may be right for you, we encourage you to review the curriculum pages on each program's respective website (linked above) to help you in your decision-making. You are also welcome to contact the DSCB Program Directors or any of our faculty members if you have specific questions. Generally, students who are committed to Developmental and Stem Cell Biology apply directly to the DSCB program; students with an interest in broader and more interdisciplinary approaches to biomedical research apply to the BMS program; and students with an interest in broader and more interdisciplinary approaches to areas including cellular and molecular biology apply to the TETRAD program. Again, DSCB coordinates many activities and aspects of its curriculum with both BMS and TETRAD.

Application Materials

Application: The online application for Fall 2017 is now closed. Applications for Fall 2018 will be accepted beginning in September 2017 (deadline will be in December of 2017).

Letters of recommendation: We will accept electronic letters of recommendation; instructions for submitting all letters are included with our online application.

Transcripts: We require a transcript from each institute of higher education that you have attended. High school transcripts are not required. Transcripts may be uploaded into the online application. If selected for an interview, original transcripts will be requested, and selected applicants must arrange to have them sent to us directly by the institution; please do not mail copies yourself.

Developmental & Stem Cell Biology Graduate Program
University of California, San Francisco
513 Parnassus Ave., Room HSE-1285
Box 0505
San Francisco, CA 94143-0505

GRE Scores: All students who apply must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test.  A subject test is not required, but is strongly encouraged.  Please request submission of your GRE General and Subject test scores to UCSF, institution code R4840. For more information about GRE scores and deadlines, see below.

Foreign applicants are also required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).
TOEFL code: 30

Application fee: There is a $80 application fee ($100 for international applicants).  Instructions for submitting the fee are included in the online application, which will be available in September.


Applications are accepted for admission in the Fall quarter only. For Fall 2018 admission, all application materials (application, letters of recommendation, transcripts, GRE test scores) must be received by the application deadline (2018 admissions deadline to be announced).

For Fall 2018 admission, we recommend that the required GRE general test be taken no later than October 2017.

The GRE subject test is not required, but strongly encouraged. If you elect to take the subject test, please plan to do so by October 2017 to ensure timely delivery of your scores.

Financial Support

All students admitted to the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Program are guaranteed a stipend to cover living expenses, plus payment of tuition and fees. To make the available funds go as far as possible, all students who are admitted will be considered for fellowships administered by the UCSF Graduate Division, a major source of support for incoming students. In addition, students are encouraged to apply for support from other sources, such as predoctoral fellowships from the National Science Foundation or Ford Foundation. If outside fellowship support is not obtained, or if partial awards are made, other funds available to the program will be used to supplement the awards up to the guaranteed level of support.

The Financial Aid Office provides information and applications for other forms of financial support such as loans and work-study programs. Address inquiries to Financial Aid Office, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-0246, or call (415) 476-4181.

Fellowship Information
Once students enter the DSCB program they will be strongly encouraged to apply for graduate fellowships from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and other sources. Fellowship awards benefit both the program and the students, and often include additional funds for the student's computer expenses, journal subscriptions, and travel to scientific meetings. Eligibility for graduate fellowships depends upon a student's background and research interests.

The online application will be available in August. Initial application is due in early/mid November. You may find more information at NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

Other fellowships for graduate students include:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) F31
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG)
  • Porter Physiology Development Fellowship Program for underrepresented ethnic minority students
  • Dept. of Homeland Security Scholarship and Fellowship Program

Please see the UCSF Graduate Division website for additional resources.