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Education / Graduate Education / PhD Programs / Frequently Asked Questions


Frequently Asked Questions

Our FAQ pages will help answer many of your questions related to admissions at the SMD, the application process, being an international applicant, and the professional and career development resources available to students in the School of Medicine and Dentistry.


When are applications reviewed and by whom?

Applications are reviewed as they are received by Program Directors and Admissions Committees Members.

How are applications evaluated?

Applicants are evaluated by the individual programs to which they have applied on the basis of their prior performance and promise for exceptional achievement at the graduate level, as evidenced by their academic records, letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with their capabilities, standardized test scores and any other pertinent data they submit. Applicants are also evaluated on their ability to elaborate on their work, reason for pursuing graduate studies and future career plans in interviews conducted in person or via the internet/telephone.

Specific admission requirements vary by program. In general, most programs require significant work in the basic, applied and the physical sciences, mathematics, writing and established research skills.

When do admissions interviews occur?

Admissions interviews are by invitation only. The PhD programs schedule two Interview Weekends each year, generally during the first weeks of February and March.

When will I know if I've been accepted?

Admissions Committees meet shortly after each Interview Weekend to determine which applicants will be offered admission. Generally, notification of an offer of admission is made within 1-2 weeks of the applicant’s visit to the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

If I’ve been accepted, when can I enroll?

Students entering the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry via a biomedical science PhD program have the option of beginning a first lab rotation on July 1. Students who do not want to do a summer lab rotation and those entering via a health sciences PhD program, start in late August or early September.

What if I need to defer my admission?

The graduate programs accept applications for the next immediate academic year. Accepted applicants who wish to postpone their entrance may request a deferral of up to one year by obtaining permission from the Program Director. If the deferral request is granted, the applicant’s place would be reserved with the next entering class. If the deferral request is denied, the applicant must choose either to matriculate in the class to which admission has been offered or to reapply for admission at a future date.

How will I know if I haven’t been offered admission?

Once a decision regarding your application has been made, you will receive an email to inform you that you have or have not been offered admission. If you have not received such an email, the program may still be reviewing your application. If you would like to check on the status of your application, please contact your Program Coordinator directly.


Is there an application fee?

Yes. The fee is $60 and is paid during the online application process.
This fee is automatically waived for PhD applications submitted by December 1st.

What is the application deadline?

PhD Programs

  • December 1 - early submission deadline to have $60 application fee automatically waived.
  • December 15 - final deadline; $60 application fee applies.
    • After the December 15th deadline, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until January 1, at each program’s discretion.

PhD students are admitted in the Fall semester only.

Detailed Application Timeline

What materials do I need to complete my application?

Application Requirements

What should my Statement of Purpose include?

The Statement of Purpose should clearly describe your reasons for applying to the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, your preparation for the field of study, your study and research interests, future career plans, and other aspects of your background and interests which may aid the Admissions Committee in evaluating your aptitude and motivation for graduate study. If there are weaknesses in your application, please address them directly as this will be to your benefit. Your statement should not exceed 3 pages in length (single spaced). Because you are applying online, you should prepare your statement in advance and be prepared to upload it.

Is a writing sample required?

The following PhD programs require one (1) sample of the applicant’s own writing with individual authorship: Epidemiology, Health Services Research & Policy. This sample can be academic, narrative, or creative in nature and is designed to demonstrate the applicant’s ability to present an idea, reason and argue in written form.

Which standardized tests are required for admission?

  1. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (Institution Code is 2948)
    Completion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is optional for all PhD programs in the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.  Some programs will consider GRE scores if provided whereas others will not utilize supplied GRE scores in the application review process. Please contact the Graduate Coordinator for more details if you are interested to provide a GRE score. Average GRE percentiles for recent incoming classes are available on the Stats and Facts website.
  2. English Language Proficiency (TOEFL Institution Code is 2948)
    Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency by taking one of the tests below. Average TOEFL scores for recent incoming classes are available on the Stats and Facts website.
    1. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)iBT or ITP Plus
    2. International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
    3. DuoLingo

Who should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

Three letters of recommendation are required for PhD programs. At least one of the recommenders should be a faculty member at the last school you attended as a full-time student unless you have been out of school for more than four years. Substitutions for faculty recommendations may include work associates or others who can comment on your academic potential for graduate work. As a professional courtesy, you should notify your recommenders of the request for a recommendation letter in advance.

Letters of recommendation are submitted via the online application system only. Hard copy letters are not accepted. This will require that you organize in advance the name, title, address, institution or business name, and email address of all your recommenders before applying online. Immediately after you submit your application, your recommenders are sent an email asking them to submit a letter of recommendation electronically.

Is there a minimum GPA required?

Historically, those admitted to PhD programs in the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry have achieved cumulative undergraduate grade-point-averages (GPA) higher than 3.25.

Where do I send my transcripts?

It is expected that transcripts be scanned and uploaded to your online application.

What is the correct Institution Code for the GRE and TOEFL?

The SMD Institution Code is 2948.

How do I find out if my application and letters of recommendation have been received?

Please return to your Applicant Status Page and log in to review your application checklist.

How can I check the status of my application after it is completed?

Inquiries regarding the status of an application should be directed to the Graduate Coordinator affiliated with the graduate program to which you have applied.

International Applicants

Who is considered an International Applicant?

International applicants are individuals who need a visa in order to study or live in the U.S. Individuals who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States of America, no matter where in the world they live or go to school, are not considered international applicants.

International students must meet the same requirements and deadlines as all other applicants. All application materials and recommendations must be written in English.

Are there any requirements specific to an International Applicant?

Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency. Applicants are required to provide official scores that are within 2 years of the original test date.

The following test types are acceptable:

  1. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)iBT (SMD school code: 2948, SOPHAS application code: 5688) 
  2. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) (select University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry; Epidemiology and Health Services Research & Policy programs should select SOPHAS)
  3. DuoLingo  (select University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry)

When official score reports cannot be sent to the SMD directly from the testing agency because they are greater than 1 year old, please scan and upload your official score report to your online application under "Other Documents".

Is waiver of the TOEFL/IELTS requirement possible?

Applicants who have earned or will earn an undergraduate baccalaureate degree from a US educational institution are not required to take an English language test.

Exceptions to the English Language test requirement may be granted for applicants who have earned or will earn a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university in a country where English is an official language and where all instruction is provided in English. Applicants who qualify for TOEFL/IELTS/DuoLingo test waivers will see a waiver reflected in their checklist by November 1 for submissions received with transcripts by that date or weekly thereafter for submissions received after November 1 until the PhD application deadline December 15. A minimum of six full semesters of academic coursework in good standing is required to qualify for a waiver regardless of whether your study is in the U.S. or a foreign country.

You may be eligible for an English Language test waiver if you have completed a masters degree at a U.S. regionally accredited institution or are currently in pursuit of a U.S. masters program and have successfully completed a minimum of two full semesters of academic coursework in good standing. Qualifying submissions will see a waiver reflected on the application checklist as applicable.

Do you require a credential evaluation?

Foreign applicants may voluntarily submit a credential evaluation in addition to, or in lieu of, an undergraduate transcript record for admission review purposes.  Foreign applicants whose U.S. bachelors degree equivalency cannot be verified through a review of their foreign credentials may also be requested by either the graduate admissions office or program faculty/staff to submit an independent credential evaluation to support their application.  

Credential evaluations must include the following:

  • Be recognized/approved by NACES as an authorized evaluator
  • U.S. education/degree equivalency
  • U.S. equivalent GPA

A list of approved credential evaluation services can be found here. The most commonly used, and highly reputable, service is World Education Services (WES).