Frequently Asked Questions

Click on each question to view the answer.

Selecting a program

Which BREP program is right for me?

  • Review the BREP website to determine what program is right for you based on your goals and the level of education you have already attained.

Is a master's degree required to enter the BSGP PhD program?

  • No.  A master’s degree is not required, nor do PhD students in the BSGP earn a MS degree on the way to the PhD.

I’m interested in studying pharmaceutical science/toxicology.  Do I need to apply to the College of Pharmacy?

  • No, you should apply for admission to the BSGP PhD program.
    • The BSGP partners with the College of Pharmacy to provide a research-based educational program for PhD students in pharmaceutical sciences and toxicology.
  • When you are filling out the UNM graduate admission application, select Biomedical Sciences as both the Department and Major.

Applying to the BSGP

What are the application deadlines?

  • The BSGP has a priority deadline of December 1.
    • Applications received by this deadline receive earliest consideration.
    • The final deadline for applying for admission is March 1.
      • Applications that are incomplete as of 5:00 PM on March 1 will not be considered for admission.

Why two deadlines?

  • Early applicants who meet the December 1 deadline will be reviewed in the first admissions review sessions and are given the best consideration for admission.
  • Domestic US applicants who are being considered for admission to the BSGP may be invited to visit the UNM Health Sciences Center, expenses paid, for an interview.
    • During this visit, applicants will be interviewed by the admissions committee, have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with research faculty, and learn more about the BSGP and the UNM Health Sciences Center facilities.
    • International applicants and some domestic US applicants who are being considered for admission to the BSGP will be interviewed via Skype.

When should I begin my application?

  • Ideally, you should begin your application in October or November!
  • Domestic US applicants: Ideally, you should start your application early so that your application will be reviewed in the first review sessions.
    • For most applicants, it typically takes 4 – 6 weeks for an application to go from the date the application is started to the date it is reviewed.
    • International applicants: You should plan on at least 6 – 8 weeks to allow sufficient time for the application to be processed.

Why so early?

  • Early applicants will be evaluated in the first review sessions and qualified applicants will have the best chance of securing an in-person interview or one of the first Skype interviews.
    • Please see the BSGP Admissions page for specific information about the interview deadlines.
    • If you wait until late in the application season, we may not have sufficient time to deal with unexpected issues such as slow delivery of official transcripts, referees who do not respond in a timely manner, and other problems that may hinder the completion of your application.
    • The BSGP Admissions Committee begins to make offers of admission immediately after the first on-campus interview session.
      • Thus, as the admission season continues, the number of available slots grows smaller, and the odds of receiving an offer of admission diminish.
      • History has shown that applicants who wait until February to begin an application are likely to have an incomplete application as of the final deadline.

Can I pay the application fee after I've been accepted?

  • No.  UNM will not release an application to the BSGP for consideration until the application fee is paid.

Can I get a fee waiver?

  • The University’s graduate application fee may be waived for domestic applicants who are affiliated with the following programs:
    • the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC),
    • McNair Scholars,
    • Project 1000,
    • Post Baccalaureate Research and Education Programs (PREP),
    • GEM Fellowship Program, and
    • Initiatives for Maximizing Student Diversity (IMSD).
    • In order to receive the waiver, applicants must submit a signed letter of support from the program director along with the completed application fee waiver request form.
    • Visit http://grad.unm.edu/resources/gs-forms/application-fee-waiver.html or contact Mary Fenton for more specific details.
    • Application fee waivers are not available to international students.

How do I get the link to the BSGP supplemental application?

  • In the UNM graduate application, you will select Biomedical Sciences as the department and major; a “CAS Required” link will then appear in the menu on the left side of the application page.
    • Select the link in the Biomedical Sciences section of the “CAS Required” page to access the BSGP supplemental application.

Is there an appeal process if my application is declined?

  • No.  All BSGP admissions decisions are final.
  • If your application for admission is declined, but the Admissions Committee feels there are steps you can take to improve your application, you will receive a letter with suggestions for strengthening your application in the future.
    • If you choose to apply for admission to the BSGP again, it is to your advantage to follow the advice provided in the letter you received.

Admissions Requirements

I wasn’t a biology or science major.  Can I apply to the BSGP?

  • Yes, as long as you have completed, or plan to complete, the pre-requisite coursework with a grade of “B” or higher.
    • Please see the Admissions page for the list of pre-requisite courses.

Can I apply for admission now, before I’ve finished my pre-requisite coursework?

  • Yes, you can apply for admission while you are finishing your pre-requisite coursework.
    • You will be required to show a plan for completing the courses prior to the start of Fall classes (classes usually start the third Monday in August)
    • If selected for admission, you will need to submit final official transcripts showing successful completion of pre-requisite courses with a grade of “B” or higher, prior to the start of Fall classes.

Can I finish some of the pre-requisite coursework after I’m admitted?

  • No.  All pre-requisite coursework must be completed prior to the start of Fall semester classes.
    • The pre-requisite coursework establishes the foundation for the BSGP first-year core curriculum.

My GPA (or GRE score) doesn’t meet the minimum requirement.  Can I still apply for admission?

  • The BSGP Admissions Committee considers the entire application, including laboratory experience, letters of recommendation, and the letter of intent, when making the admissions decision.
    • These factors are weighed along with the GPA and GRE scores.
    • However, a GPA or GRE score that is significantly below the minimum will have a negative impact on your evaluation.
    • Bear in mind that the BSGP is highly competitive, and it is to your advantage to take remedial action to strengthen your application before applying for admission.

I don’t have any laboratory experience.  Am I eligible for admission to the BSGP?

  • Laboratory experience is not required, but is highly desirable.
    • Having previous lab experience will give your application a competitive edge!
    • We strongly encourage all applicants to acquire relevant laboratory experience before applying for admission.

How can I acquire research laboratory experience?

  • Try to find a laboratory position by talking to your professors or searching the employment web site at your university. 
    • Many universities hire student employees as laboratory research technicians. 
    • Some research faculty will allow undergraduates to work in the laboratory for academic credit. 
    • Seek out summer research internships, such as BREP’s Undergraduate Pipeline Network (UPN).
      • Please be aware that some summer research internships restrict entry to sophomores or juniors.
      • If you have graduated or are graduating soon, look for short-term research technician positions. 
      • You can also seek out post-baccalaureate training programs such as the NIH-funded PREP.

Do I have to identify a research mentor (advisor) or research department when I apply for admission?

  • No.  All BSGP students enter the program undifferentiated.
    • You will, however, be asked to name 3 research areas that are of interest to you, although you are not bound to those areas when you enter the program.
    • First-year PhD students complete 3 different laboratory rotations during the first academic year.
    • A research mentor and department is selected by mutual agreement from one of the rotations.

The GRE

Why are GRE Verbal and Analytical Writing scores important?

  • The PhD is the highest academic degree that can be attained, and in a PhD program you will be immersed in an environment of erudite scholars. 
  • You will be expected to possess the ability to read analytically, to have strong written communication skills, and to participate in academic discourse using the appropriate vocabulary.
  • Starting in your first year, and continuing throughout your career, you will be giving presentations to audiences that include other experts in your field. 
  • You will go on to write grant proposals and present your research findings in journal publications.
  • Polishing your verbal and writing skills early will give you the confidence to speak and write with authority as you progress toward your career goals.

Can I substitute the MCAT for the GRE?

  • No, the GRE is required of BSGP applicants.

Should I prepare for the GRE before taking the test?

  • Yes!  We strongly encourage preparation prior to taking the GRE.

How should I prepare for the GRE?

  • First, visit the ETS “Prepare for the GRE revised General Test” web page.
  • Follow the links to view sample questions, tips, and strategies.
  • Download the PowerPrep®II software and practice taking the test.
    • This free practice test is a very powerful tool if you use it advantageously; some students have found it raised their scores significantly.
    • Also download the free, printable, paper version of the test available on that web page – you can study and analyze the questions at your leisure and at your own pace in your spare time.
    • Study the math review and math conventions at the “Prepare for the GRE revised General Test” web page.
    • Read!
      • Read non-fiction books, classic literature, and other publications that use GRE-level vocabulary.
      • Go online or to the library to read magazines with lengthy essays, such as The Atlantic, The New Yorker Magazine, Harper’s, The Economist, Utne Reader, or even The New York Times.
      • More popular magazines like the Smithsonian or National Geographic will also help to improve both your vocabulary and your reading skills.
      • Go to http://www.merriam-webster.com/quiz/index.htm and play the addictive vocabulary quiz.
        • While it’s not GRE-specific, you’ll train your brain with exposure to advanced vocabulary, and you can see how you stack up against others in your age group.
        • Commercial GRE prep courses are costly but worthwhile if you are not able to improve your score with self-study.
          • Check with your university or local continuing education program to see if discounted GRE prep courses are available.

Should I re-take the GRE if my initial scores are not good?

  • Yes, but prepare for the test before you take it again!
    • Your aim should be to improve your scores, thus showing an upward trend in your ability. 

Will all my old GRE scores show up in my score report?

  • It depends on when you ordered your scores.
  • If you ordered scores to be sent to UNM before ETS initiated the ScoreSelect® option, all the scores within the last five years will be on permanent file.
  • If you ordered scores after the implementation of the ScoreSelect® option, and you chose to use that option, then we will see only the scores you selected.

International Applicants

  • You must submit official transcripts, diploma, and certificate of graduation in the original language and official English translation.
    • The transcript documents must bear the seals, stamps, or signatures of authorizing officials at your institution.
  • If you have been issued only one transcript, do not send the original! 
    • In most cases, you can take your transcripts to your institution and have official copies made by the registrar. 
    • If you are in Albuquerque, you can take your original transcripts to the Office of International Admissions to have them certified and copied.
    • For more information, visit http://geo.unm.edu/admission.html.
  • The BSGP requires the TOEFL, and will not accept the IELTS or any other English language proficiency test in lieu of the TOEFL.