Frequently Asked Questions

Here you can find the answers to the most commonly asked questions about enrollment process. Feel free to reach us and clarify any of the answers below.

Funding and Finances

Proficiency Tests


Application Process

Lab Rotations

Process of Studying and Degree

Can I have an application fee waiver?
Unfortunately, GSBSE does not provide the application fee waiver. For further questions regarding application fee waivers, please contact the UMaine Graduate School at or the Office of International Programs at The application fee is $65.

Does GSBSE provide funding?
The consideration of financing is automatically considered as part of the application to the program, both for national and international applicants. Stipend information can be found here. There is no separate application for funding, health insurance, stipend or tuition waiver. All of this would be reflected in one application.

Should I submit the English proficiency tests if the language of instruction in my university was English?
As long as English is listed as the language of instruction on the transcript, English exam test scores do not need to be provided (TOEFL iBT, IELTS, Duolingo English Test).

Do you accept unofficial transcripts?
We accept unofficial transcripts and test scores. We do require official transcripts prior to matriculation if accepted. A scanned copy from a school is unofficial. WES: Appreciated, but not required.
Test scores:

What is the minimum GPA?
There is no gpa minimum, but most have an average of 3.6

Do I need to have research experience before applying?
It is a benefit in an application. We practice holistic application review/holistic admissions, which means that we consider an applicant in totality rather in parts; therefore it is difficult to say how exactly a given portion will impact admission.

Do I need to have faculty member’s approval?
Students do not need to be accepted into a lab prior to applying because we have first year rotations, where students are able to explore dozens of labs and 150+ affiliated faculty across five different research organizations within the state of Maine prior to committing full-time, permanently to a lab for the duration of their degree.

What should I know about the interview process?
Admission offers are subject to an interview. Each interview is different but our 7-faculty Admissions Committee seeks to find the most passionate and competent future principal investigators within each cohort; therefore they seek to better understand each applicant’s research experience and motivating interests.

What is the application deadline?
Applications submitted before the Dec 1 annual deadline will be reviewed for the current admissions cycle, applications submitted after the annual Dec 1 deadline may be rejected. Note: applicants can request a term change by emailing

What if I submitted an application after the deadline?
Deadline: December 1st of the year prior to matriculation, e.g. December 1st, 2024 deadline for Fall 2025 matriculation. GSBSE offers Fall Admission only, and applications submitted after the deadline may be rejected without refunding the application fee. A term change request can be made in advance to avoid losing the application fee and use it toward a future term. To request a term change for the application, email, and the fee will be transferred to the new term without penalty. If an application is rejected for any reason applicants  will need to repay the application fee to reapply.

Do you offer one due date to apple every year or your program offers rolling admissions?

We do only offer one due date to apply every year and our program does not offer rolling admissions. Even if you were accepted in PSM, you would still need to apply for the next admissions cycle by Dec 1, 2024, and be reviewed and evaluated by the PhD GSBSE  Admissions committee to determine if it will be a good fit for the student and program. You could still be encouraged to apply to PSM if that is the direction you want to go but it isn’t a guarantee that you would be able to transfer to GSBSE later.

What if I have been admitted to the program but need to start later than I expected?
A term change request should be submitted If you have already been admitted for a particular term, but need to start in a later term, students need to contact Debbi (Debbie Clements, Academic Record Specialist, to request a term change.

What if I have other general questions for the Graduate School?
Please review the Graduate School’s Frequently asked questions and reach out to if you still have questions.

Where should I send the application materials?
Official transcripts can be sent to
Hard copies can be mailed to:
University of Maine
The Graduate School
5775 Stodder Hall, Room 42 Orono, ME 04469

Where can I find info about the current GSBSE Ph.D. Admission Tracks?
Please visit our admissions page and review info about current GSBSE PhD Admission Tracks available.
Please review the research overview page:
Note: If an applicant wishes to be reviewed for more than one admission track within GSBSE this should be noted in the applicants personal statement. Applicants submitting one application, can be reivewed internally for more than one track.

I would like to apply for a masters degree program in your department. What is the minimum GPA requirement to get admission? I would like to know if I can apply for On-Campus graduate program in your department?
We don’t have an on-campus Master’s within GSBSE. We do have an online Professional Science Masters (PSM) in Bioinformatics. You can see a full list of Master’s programs, including those on-campus here:
M&BS Programs: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology:  (Grad Coordinator is Dr. Julie Gosse)
SBE for more traditional biology:
CBE for MS in BME:

Can prospective students from underrepresented communities get in contact with current students to ask questions about the program and the life around campus?
Yes, it is potentially possible. Please let me know who you would like to meet with or what questions you may have to help me link you with an individual or small group to help you learn more. ie: Graduate School, Graduate Student Government, GSBSE Student body, Office of International Programs.

Is there a limit to the number of pages for the CV and letter of intent when submitting my application?
There is no page limit for the CV, but the letter of intent should be 300 – 500 words.

As a bachelor degree holder in Biomedical Laboratory Science with 4 years working experience. Do I have a chance of being admitted for Ph.D. in Biomedical Science in your institution?
The faculty member admissions committee will determine who will be admitted to the program. We practice holistic application review/holistic admissions, which means that we consider an applicant in totality rather in parts; therefore it is difficult to say how exactly a given portion will impact admission.

What is the possibility of applying for a direct Ph.D. with my BSc?
A good portion of our PhD students have matriculated with only a BSc. We do not require a degree beyond a BSc to apply. All students in the program have substantial and significant research experience.

Do I have to submit an English Test or is having an English Proficiency letter from my school acceptable?International Undergraduate Admissions:
A letter from the Registrar’s office overseeing the course work may qualify. Or if it is from a native english speaking school.

Do you accept IELTS for Ph.D. in Biomedical science?
Yes, IELTS, TOEFL, and Duolingo English Test. As of August 28, 2023, Graduate School has suspended accepting PTE Academic Online scores. Check details here.

Can I apply for a Spring start?
We don’t have a process for spring admissions.

Is it possible to obtain funding either through TA/TR or external scholarship after gaining admission?
Yes, first GSBSE is fully-funded – every admitted student is given an automatic Research Assistantship RA. However, after the first year, this funding ends and there are a wide range of opportunities depending on the lab and site you land in. UMaine and UNE are both universities and therefore have more opportunities for teaching; however JAX, MDIBL, and MHIR all have multiple mentorship and teaching opportunities through their summer programs and partnerships.

■ JAX: Has a world-famous summer program where the PhD students can mentor students.
■ MDIBL: Has the Maine INBRE grant, which supports lots of educational grants, which students can be a part of
■ MHIR: rotating med students from a variety of schools and other programs.

External Scholarships are available to everyone – you can (and should) apply to those. Our students have had success with the NIH F31 and NSF GRFP (excluding international students who are not eligible).

I have evaluated my transcript, using World Evaluation Service (WES), can proceed to use the unofficial copy during the application phase?
Yes, we accept unofficial transcripts and test scores. We do require official transcripts prior to matriculation if accepted. A scanned copy from a school is unofficial.

Do I need to apply separately for funding, or does consideration of financing come automatically with an application?
There is no separate application for funding, health insurance, stipend or tuition waiver. All of this would be reflected in one application. Yes, the consideration of financing is automatically considered as part of the application to the program.

Are there fellowships for international students?
Please check the UMaine’s Office of Major Scholarships (OMS) and the Office of Research Development (ORD) to find out more about upcoming funding opportunities. There are fellowships that offer opportunities for graduate students in a wide variety of fields, including opportunities for international graduate students. The NSF-GRFP, USDA Predoctoral Fellowship, and NIH-F31 Fellowship target a narrower range of disciplines. 

I have about 18 peer-reviewed publications. Will it give me an edge towards getting in?
Yes, research experience is a benefit in an application. We practice holistic application review/holistic admissions, which means that we consider an applicant in totality rather than parts; therefore it is difficult to say how exactly a given portion will impact admission.

Problem with paying application fee?
Log out, clear browser cache, and try again, if that does not help – contact Jessica Ouellette (

Who are the stronger candidates in the GSBSE admissions process?
A successful applicant will have an undergraduate degree in the sciences, engineering, or related discipline, with an outstanding academic record, and generally more research experience than the average undergraduate student. Successful applicants will be clear about what interest they have in the program and be able to share specific information and examples on how the program will align with their research interests.

If I’m interested in reaching out to faculty in the program to further explore interests and opportunities is there a directory with email addresses? 
Yes, interested applicants can review our People page, and filter faculty, students and alumni by area of expertise, partner site etc.
I’m interested in applying to the Biomedical Engineering PhD program, can you share what the GSBSE admissions committee will be looking for from my academic background in order to be accepted?  
Yes. We currently require some proof of having taken engineering courses as part of a MS or BS in an engineering discipline. Alternatively an applicant could also be considered if they have a minor in an engineering discipline.

My passport will expire in January 2023 and I have already put in an application for renewal. The new one is not yet ready. Would I be able to attach documents later even after submitting my application?
We would prefer that you wait and upload a copy of your new passport. If there is urgency to issue your I-20, you can upload the expired one, but it would be extremely important you verify your name is exactly the same on the new passport as it needs to match the I-20.

Is this an online degree or hybrid degree?
Classes can be attended remotely but research is done in person, and it is the major portion of our program. This program cannot be done remotely. There are no remote work opportunities for tuition assistance. Research is conducted onsite in one of our 5 sites (all in Maine). You also can check our Online Professional Science Master’s in Bioinformatics, which is an online degree.

Is there a possibility that I do the lab rotation in Atlanta in any affiliated institute?
No, unfortunately. We have 5 sites where students can do lab rotations and all of them are located in Maine.

How does a lab rotation work? How many hours in the lab is required?
Graduate students frequently work more than 40 hours/week, and are encouraged to spend as much time as possible in the lab while rotating. Classes will take a few hours of attendance but the expectation would be that students are excited and engaged with the lab and spend the majority of their work week there.

Are there any online lab simulation possibilities?
Sorry, no.

How long does it take to finish this degree?
5-6 years on average. The conferral of a PhD depends upon the completion of novel research.

Will there be any IRB submission during research?

This will depend on the research conducted. If human subjects are used, then IRB approval is required.

How many PIs are assigned to junior students?

This depends on the student’s project. Many students have more than one advisor, many have only one advisor.

What will the process of deciding the lab to rotate look like? Do I apply and then wait for the decision from the PI?

Typically students review a list of faculty who are accepting a rotating student, review faculty bios and try to connect via email, to discuss whether it would be a good fit.  The PI will decide ultimately if they want to have you rotate with them.

If l rotate at JAX lab or MDIBL, how do I take classes at UMaine?

Courses are all via zoom, so at the external sites, there are times when small groups of students will zoom together from one room, if the instructor prefers that arrangement to help to encourage engagement.

During lab rotation, would I take on a project and will I be required to produce some significant result at the end of the rotation?

I think this varies, per student and per lab.  The relatively short time in each lab rotation limits the extent of research contributions, but is designed to allow you to interact with the mentor and labmates, gain an understanding of the research topic, the resources of the lab and style of scientific discovery. This helps the student and mentor to determine the potential ‘fit’ of the student into the lab and possible thesis topics they might want to pursue. Expectations increase as students progress in the program.

How is the culture of the labs?

This varies by lab and by site and is the reason the lab rotations are so important for the student and mentor to find an appropriate match.

Would I have a lot of freedom in choosing my research topic or do students tend to take on ongoing projects?

I think this varies, per student and per lab. There are certain advantages to taking on aspects of an ongoing project as the resources and momentum for discovery are already in place. Choosing a de novo research topic can be very exciting, but has to have research funding available to develop the preliminary data to allow it to become an independently funded project.

Do most students who did their research at Jackson Lab or MDIBL stay in academia or industry?

We estimate somewhere close to 50/50. JAX, MDIBL and MHIR are independent non-profit research facilities that function very much like academic laboratories with PIs writing grants to support their research. Many students will go on to academic postdoctoral opportunities, but many also look to biotech and pharma for job opportunities.

If I do research at JAX or MDIBL, I understand there are teaching opportunities.  Can you explain more about this?

Both sites have educational programs with courses and conferences that are taught on-site. In addition, all of the GSBSE courses are available online and students have functioned as TAs or even helped to teach sections of courses. The Orono campus has additional undergraduate and graduate teaching opportunities, and some may be available for online participation.

What are the networking opportunities, for example, major conferences in the area?

There are several annual in-state meetings and Gordon Conferences that take place in Maine. However, students also have several opportunities to attend national and international meetings with which to network with other researchers and look for potential postdoctoral opportunities.

When students graduate, what makes them stand out relative to others on the job market?

What makes students stand out is the quality of the research opportunities and collaborative projects that they have access to during their training. When these opportunities turn into high impact publications (specifically first-author publications) and national/international meeting presentations, that is what makes you stand out for job opportunities.