UNM Logo

Department of Biology
167 Castetter Hall
Telephone: (505) 277-3411

UNM Biology, Castetter Hall 1480
MSC03-2020, 219 Yale Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

Join / Leave UNMBio-L

Main Page Photo Credits

Graduate Student Information

Admission Requirements

Applications to the Biology graduate program are reviewed by a departmental committee that evaluates both the potential of the applicant to complete graduate work and the availability of a suitable faculty member to supervise the applicant.

In addition, the committee ensures that each applicant meets the following admission requirements:

  1. a Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university; the degree must be granted prior to entering the UNM graduate program, but does not have to be in the biological sciences;
  2. an overall grade point average of at least 3.2 (on a 4.0 scale) in biology and other science courses (chemistry, physics and mathematics);
  3. a minimum total score from the general GRE test of 1100 (= total of verbal plus quantitative or analytical) [the applicant must also submit a score from the GRE Biology subject test or from a subject test in another relevant major discipline];
  4. two semesters of introductory biology, one semester of genetics, and at least 12 hours of upper division (300 and above) biology courses;
  5. a clearly written letter of intent that demonstrates specific goals and an understanding of graduate education; and
  6. three letters of recommendation, an official set of transcripts, and a departmental data base sheet (see details in section on Application Procedures).

Extremely well-qualified students who do not satisfy all of these requirements may petition the selection committee for an exception to be granted.

If an application is approved by the selection committee, it is then evaluated by the Biology graduate faculty. Applicants can be accepted only if a graduate faculty member agrees to serve as the student's major advisor. Thus, each applicant is also encouraged to correspond directly with faculty members in fields related to the applicant's interests in order to explore the possible availability of a faculty sponsorship. If an applicant is both approved by the selection committee and sponsored by a graduate faculty advisor, the student can gain entrance into the graduate program of the department, contingent upon acceptance by the UNM Office of Graduate Studies.

Admission Procedures

Please note that two sets of application materials are required: (a) one set for the Graduate Admissions Office (GAO) , and (b) one set for the Department of Biology. These two sets of application materials differ from each other:

    GAO Requirements (also summarized at: GAO):
  • UNM Application
  • Residency form
  • One official transcript
  • $50.00 application fee
    Biology Requirements:
  • One official transcript
  • GRE scores
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Letter of intent
  • Database sheet
  • Other materials you want to include (CV, etc)

It is your responsibility to ensure that all application materials arrive on time and contain the appropriate materials for both the Graduate Admissions Office and the Department of Biology. Please plan ahead and begin assembling these materials well in advance. In addition, please give your reviewers ample time so that their letters of recommendation can reach the Department of Biology by the deadline.

APPLICATION DEADLINEAll materials must be received by the Graduate Admissions Office and the Department of Biology by January 15th for admission the following fall.

A) Application materials to be sent to the Graduate Admissions Office:
An on-line application form for materials to be sent to the Graduate Admissions Office can be found at http://www.unm.edu/grad/admissions/admissions.html

B) Application materials to be sent to the Department of Biology:
(Note: For International Students Only—do not send any materials directly to the Department of Biology; instead, send all application materials to International Admissions; see link for foreign applicant.)

For all domestic applicants, the following materials must be received by the Department of Biology by January 15th:

  1. TranscriptsOne official copy of your transcripts from each college you have attended must be received by the Department of Biology by January 15th. Please note: this set of transcripts is in addition to the one official copy that you must send to the Graduate Admissions Office. Thus, for your application to be complete, one set of official transcripts must be sent to the Graduate Admissions Office, and an additional set must be sent to the Department of Biology. Transcripts sent directly to the Department of Biology are required for the timely intradepartmental processing of your application and should be in an envelope SEALED by the issuing university (do not open).
  2. GRE Scores: General and Subject—The Department of Biology requires that you submit scores from the General GRE test (Verbal, Quantitative, Analytical). In addition, you must submit a score from a subject test in either Biology or another relevant major discipline. Arrange to take these tests before December so that the scores can reach the Department by January 15th. Please note that it takes six weeks for the scores to be sent to the department. Just in case these scores do not reach us in time, send a photocopy of them.
  3. THREE Letters of Recommendation—The three letters of recommendation should be in envelopes sealed by the reviewers and signed by the reviewers over the seal. If your reviewers refuse to give you the sealed envelope to send back to the Department of Biology, the letters can be mailed directly by the reviewers to the Department of Biology. However, if you are not sending the letters yourself, you must indicate that the letters are arriving separately from the rest of your application materials, and the letters must be received by January 15th. These letters should be professional recommendations that discuss your preparation, interest and capabilities for graduate school. Therefore, the recommendations should come from faculty members at institutions you have previously attended or from supervisors for whom you have worked in a professional capacity.
  4. Letter of Intent—The letter of intent is to be received by the Department of Biology by January 15th and is carefully considered by the Graduate Student Selection Committee. In the letter, you should state your overall goals for attending graduate school and your anticipated plans for study at UNM. You also should provide a summary of your current research interests and the area(s) of future research emphasis in order to help determine which faculty members will review your application. If you have previously corresponded with a member of the Biology graduate faculty about working with him or her, you should mention that here.
  5. Departmental Database Sheet—This database sheet should be received by the Department of Biology by January 15th. It lets us know that your application has been sent to the Graduate Admissions Office, it tells us how to reach you if questions arise, and it allows you to request specific professors to review your file.
  6. Other Materials you want to include (CV, publications, etc.)

A checklist of application materials to be sent to the Department of Biology is available for your convenience.


Degree Requirements

Graduate Program Advisor:
Graduate Advisors:



Degrees Offered:

M.S. (Plan I [thesis] and Plan II [non-thesis]) and Ph.D. in Biology


Arid land ecology; behavioral ecology; botany; cellular and molecular biology; community ecology; comparative immunology; comparative physiology; computational biology; conservation biology; ecology; ecosystem ecology; evolutionary genetics; evolutionary biology; genomics; microbiology; molecular genetics; parasitology; physiology; physiological ecology; population biology; systematics; vertebrate and invertebrate zoology.

Master Degree Requirements:

See pages 76-79 and 156-157 of the UNM Catalog 2007-08 [PDF large: 7.8 MB].

Doctorate Degree Requirements:

See pages 82-86 and 157 of the UNM Catalog 2007-08 [PDF large: 7.8 MB].

Courses Offered:

See pages 157-162 of UNM Catalog 2007-08 [PDF large: 7.8 MB].

Financial Aid

The UNM Department of Biology offers financial support for the first five years to all doctoral students new to the UNM Graduate Program who are in good standing, and to qualified master’s students for their first two years. These assistantships are available to qualified graduate students and are awarded on a competitive basis. The responsibilities of teaching assistants generally involve supervising laboratory sections and other undergraduate instruction activities. Support in the form of research assistantships also may be available.

Tuition costs and fees for in-state and out-of-state graduate students for the academic year may be found at UNM's Student Financial Aid Office Budget web page. Tuition for up to 24 semester hours per academic year is paid for by the Department of Biology for teaching assistants, and may be paid by research grants for research assistants.

Graduate Student Outcomes

Chart - Graduate Student Outcomes

Graduate Student Handbook

2006–2007 Graduate Handbook

Course Web Page

See UNM's 2008–09 Catalog for a full listing of the Biology Department's graduate course offerings.

Course Number

Course Title

Biology 502

Biology Graduate Student Association

The Biology Graudate Student Association (BGSA) is avaliable to help graduate students. You can access their web page at: http://biology.unm.edu/BGSA