Tips for Applying to Biology & Wildlife Graduate Programs

The first thing to know about applying to the graduate program in Biological Sciences or Wildlife Biology and Conservation is that students are rarely accepted unless an advisor has been identified in advance. Thesis research generally requires some external funding, so both an advisor and a tentative funding plan must be in place before a student will be accepted. Potential applicants should look at the Biology and Wildlife Department faculty directory to identify faculty with whom they share interests, then contact one or more of those people by email. Tell them about your interests and background, and ask if they are interested in taking on a new student. We urge applicants to contact faculty members early; it can take some time to sort out potential research projects and funding sources.

Explore funding opportunities.

A complete application should contain the following:

  • Application for admission and application fee
  • Transcripts from all universities or colleges attended. Unofficial transcripts from domestic applicants may be submitted with the application; official transcripts must follow prior to matriculation. International applicants must submit official transcripts from the onset.
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Statement of purpose (typically around 2 pages) that addresses the following elements
    • Career aspirations
    • Research interests
    • Research experience and relevant training
    • Interest in and potential to serve society, including experience or commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion
    • Relevance of UAF Biology and Wildlife in achieving your future goals, including the names of faculty members you have contacted regarding graduate training

Excellent statements of interest are specific, informative, focused, and concise. 

  • Three letters of reference
    • Individuals serving as references should be able to address your potential to succeed in graduate school. Ideally, this would include university faculty, research staff, or professionals familiar with your academic and research achievements and also with the expectations of graduate school. References that address notable service (e.g., Peace Corps or AmeriCorps) may also be informative.
    • Referees should address your writing ability, critical thinking skills, quantitative skills, and potential to succeed in a graduate program. 
  • Optional: scores from the GRE General Test will be considered if submitted

International students: Please consult UAF’s most recent requirements.