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Ideal BCB candidates should have an undergraduate degree in a biological, physical, mathematical or computational science.

How to Apply for the PhD Program

To apply for the PhD program, go to the BBSP website. This is a joint recruitment and admissions mechanism that encompasses all biological and biomedical graduate programs at UNC, including BCB. Applications are due in late fall, with interviews and campus visits the early spring (more details below).



What you will need to submit to the BBSP

  • Statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Unofficial transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended
  • TOEFL scores for foreign applicants from the last five years

On-campus interview weekend

Promising candidates will be invited for an on-campus interview and recruitment weekend as part of the BBSP program.  This event allows applicants to interact with current BCB students, learn more about faculty research opportunities, and visit Chapel Hill.  This will involve one-on-one faculty interviews, talks/posters given by current students, and social events where both students and faculty have an opportunity to interact informally with all the prospective students.

Application and Notification Deadlines

Applications are typically accepted until mid-November of a given year for PhD courses that begin in fall of the following year (eg, applications for starting fall 2024 are due in late-Nov 2023). See UNC BBSP website for current deadlines.

Applicants will be notified in early Spring as to whether their application has been accepted or rejected.  Those that are offered admission will have until April 15 to accept or decline.

How to Apply for the Certificate Program

BCB also offers a certificate in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology to PhD students in affiliated departments. Students interested in obtaining the graduate certificate can apply at any point prior to their fourth academic semester.

Students interested in applying to the certificate program, should submit the following to the Program Administrator:

  • Statement of Purpose indicating interest in the program
  • Resume/CV
  • Letter of support from UNC Faculty mentor explaining how participation in BCB will benefit the student
  • Copy of UNC Graduate School application (obtained from home program student services manager)

Application Dates

Applications will be reviewed in October and April. Funding for certificate students is limited and will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Affiliated PhD Program Requirement

To participate in the certificate program, applicants must first be accepted into one of the many PhD programs affiliated with BCB:

School of Medicine

College of Arts and Sciences

School of Public Health

School of Pharmacy

School of Dentistry

Financial Support

All first-year students receive full financial support from BBSP which includes a competitive stipend, health insurance, tuition, and fees. After the first year, students are supported by funds from their thesis advisors.

Transfer credits

BCB does not typically accept transfer credits. Transfer credits are defined here as credits earned from postgraduate courses taken at another institution that were not used to fulfill the requirements of a previous degree (ie, “unspent” credits). BCB does not typically allow these credits to reduce the BCB elective requirement nor take the place of any required courses. In certain cases, however, exemptions may be requested. For example, in cases where

  • transfer credits were earned at UNC-CH in courses that would be considered suitable for BCB elective credit were they taken within the PhD program, or
  • a student is transferring mid-PhD from another institution to UNC-CH because their advisor is moving to UNC-CH,

students or their advisors may petition the BCB program to allow a partial exemption of their elective credits requirement. In such cases, any decisions regarding this will be made by BCB leadership on a case-by-case basis.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Since admission to BCB is through the Biomedical and Biological Sciences Program (BBSP), do I need wet lab experience to apply?

No. Applications to BBSP that specify Computational Biology/BCB as the top interest are routed to a special admissions committee composed of BCB faculty. That committee is used to seeing students from a range of backgrounds (eg, math, economics, physics, biology, etc) that often do not include any wet lab experience. Experience in a wet lab is not at all required.

Are funding opportunities available in the BCB program?

All first year students are funded through BBSP. Students join an academic department as well as their thesis lab at the end of their first year. Funding for second year and beyond is available through several mechanisms including fellowships from the BCB program. However, most students will be funded by their mentor. All biogical and biomedical students at UNC receive funding consisting of a stipend, payment of tuition, student fees and health insurance (self-only).

Are students ever admitted directly into a lab (ie, bypassing BBSP)?

A the time of writing, this has only happened in exceptional circumstances, including, for instance, when a PI transfers to UNC-CH from another institution and takes their students with them. It is not part of the standard admissions procedure.