Application Information

Applications to any of the campuses of the California State University can be completed using an online resource called Cal State Apply. This resource is free to use; students will only pay the application fee charged directly by the campus when an application for admission is submitted.

International applicants should visit the Cal State LA International Education web pages for application and admission information.

Graduate Program Admission Deadlines

Biological Sciences
Deadline Date
Biology, M.S.

March 15th, 2024

Graduate Certificate, Biotechnology

April 15th, 2024

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate for Pre-Health Professionals*


*More information about Spring and Fall admission deadlines.

Important Notice! Due to the California state budget crisis and its effect on the California State University system, many CSU programs are required to reduce their enrollment. It is best to apply as early as possible. You can visit the Cal State Apply Application Status Filing Report to which CSU campuses are currently accepting applications, which majors are opened or closed, and to read any messages left by the campus

Application Information for Undergraduates

Important Notice: The BIOL BS major has been declared an impacted program. Beginning Fall 2014, supplementary admission criteria will be used for incoming freshman, transfer students, and students changing majors. See Impaction Information for the BIOL BS Program for more information.

Prospective undergraduates apply to the University, not the Department. The CSULA Office of University Admissions can assist you in preparing for entry into college, applying for admission to CSULA, and ensuring that you meet the California State University requirements for admission.


The admission requirements for freshman include a high school diploma, college preparatory subject requirements, and a qualified eligibility index

Lower division transfer students (less than 60 semester/90 quarter transferable units) must have a 2.00 GPA or higher in all college courses in addition to the requirements for first-time freshmen.


Upper division transfer students (greater than 60 semester/90 quarter transferable units) must have a minimum 2.00 GPA (2.40 if a nonresident of California) and have completed the four basic subjects of the CSU General Education requirements (English, Speech, Critical Thinking, and Math with a grade of C or better in each course). See the University Admissions web page on transfer requirements for more information. International students should consult the web page for International Student Admission Requirements for information on their specific situation.


Use CSUApply to apply to the undergraduate biology or microbiology programs at Cal State LA. This resource is free to use; students will only pay the application fee charged directly by the campus when an application for admission is submitted.

Due to the California state budget crisis and its effect on the California State University system, many CSU programs are required to reduce their enrollment. It is best to apply as early as possible. You can visit the CSUApply Application Status Filing Report to which CSU campuses are currently accepting applications, which majors are opened or closed, and to read any messages left by the campus.

Submitting Documents

As our campus continues to monitor and assess the situation surrounding COVID-19 (coronavirus), the Office of Admissions and Recruitment is allowing for the online submission of admissions-related documents and forms. To submit, please visit their Uploading Documents webpage

Fall 2024 applications accepted: Oct 1., 2023 - March 15, 2024

Please see the following link for Deadlines for applications to the MS Biology program.

Application Overview

All applicants must complete an online application to the University through Cal State Apply. The Department examines each applicant's potential for success in a research-based graduate program, considering factors such as match with research mentors, prior experience, and academic preparation. Applicants are evaluated on the merits of their own application in comparison with those of all other applicants for the semester. Applicants without proper documentation, i.e., academic history, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation etc., will not be processed. Recommendation for admission will only be based upon files that are complete.

Students who are admitted but do not register in the semester for which they applied must reapply through Cal State Apply and pay another application fee if seeking admission to any future semester. There is no deferred admission. We encourage you to complete your application file as soon as possible. Once your file is complete, we can proceed with the evaluation and issue a decision.

Application Checklist:

  • University application ('Personal Information', 'Academic History', and 'Supporting Information' sections of Cal State Apply);
  • Departmental application ('Program Materials' section of Cal State Apply);
  • Unofficial transcripts ('Program Materials' section of Cal State Apply);
  • Statement of purpose ('Program Materials' section of Cal State Apply);
  • Three letters of recommendation (enter contact info for referees in the 'Program Materials' section of Cal State Apply);
  • One set of Official sealed Transcripts sent to the Cal State LA Office (Cal State LA students and alumni do not need to request/submit their transcripts)

Transcripts may be sent by mail to:

California State University Los Angeles
Office of Admissions and Recruitment (SA 101)
5151 State University Dr.
Los Angeles CA 90032 USA

The admission process from application to Department review can take anywhere from 8-12 weeks. Completed applications begin the review process as soon as they are received. We recommend that you submit your application as early as possible. All required materials must have been submitted through CSUApply by the deadline. Only complete applications that are submitted by the deadline will be considered.

Some Additional Information on Application Requirements:

Identification of a Potential Faculty Research Advisor

Identifying a research advisor is a key component of the departmental application. Note that a successful application requires either confirmation of acceptance into a research laboratory or evidence of completed interviews with three faculty members in your area of interest.

We recommend that you explore the research areas of our faculty using our Department Web Site. Then schedule an appointment with the faculty member of interest via email or telephone. If you are off campus, you may want to schedule all interviews for the same day. To prepare for the interviews we recommend that you read representative publications of the faculty members of interest and formulate a list of questions regarding the research field and research environment. Sample questions might include:

  • How many graduate students has the faculty member supported?
  • How many students are currently being supported?
  • What funding is available for student support?
  • Where have graduates been placed after completing the program?
  • How much time will the faculty advisor have for you?
  • How much time does it take to complete the Master's Degree?

In addition, you should be prepared to answer questions addressing:

  • Your research interests
  • Your expectations for the program
  • Your immediate and long-term professional plans

Statement of Purpose

In your statement of purpose, please comment on your specific research interests, your academic goals, and how our program can be of help to you. Comment on why you chose our program, what qualities make you a suitable candidate, and how you could contribute to our program. Please do not submit an essay about your general life experiences; the Department would like to know about your academic and scientific qualifications.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required as part of your application. Choose professional individuals (e.g. research supervisor, supervisor in science-related employment, professors) who are best suited to comment on your intellectual talents, motivation, interactions with peers, work attitude and performance. Ask these individuals to make specific comments on your suitability for the degree program. You will provide contact information (name and email address) for your three referees in the Program Materials section of the CSUApply application, and the system will send them secure links for uploading their letters of reference.

Financial Assistance and Support Programs for Student Research

Your first stop in looking for financial assistance should be the Cal State LA Center for Student Financial Aid. The Center for Student Financial Aid is committed to assisting current and prospective students with financial assistance available from federal, state and institutional sources for their attendance at Cal State L.A. They can provide information of grants, scholarships, loans, and federal work-study opportunities. The Center for Student Financial Aid is located in Student Affairs 124 (SA-124) and their phone number is 323-343-3166. You should also check out FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

On-Campus Scholarships Related to the Biological Sciences

The University has a large number of on-campus scholarships. Many of these are general scholarships, but some are directed towards students who major in the life sciences. Some of these are

Alpha Therapeutics
• Upper division Biochemistry or Microbiology major
• 3.0 undergraduate GPA; full-time status

Anthony J. Andreoli Scholarship
• Biochemistry or Microbiology major, upper division standing
• Research potential in Biochemistry or Microbiology

Lupe Elias-Exposito
• Microbiology major
• 3.0 GPA

David Cameron Fisher Memorial Fellowship (Emeriti)
• Undergraduate student, junior or senior
• Biology major
• 3.0 GPA
• full-time status
• preference to students interested in marine biology or environmental studies

Elizabeth Tamblyn Memorial Scholarship
• Undergraduate student, upper division standing
• Microbiology major
• 3.0 GPA
• full-time status
• U.S. citizen

Robert Shuffer Memorial Scholarship
• Biology or Microbiology major, undergraduate or graduate
• 3.0 GPA
• full-time status
• preference to students interested in plant biology

Ron and Nan Okum Scholarship
• Biology major
• 3.0 GPA
• full-time status
• demonstrate financial need
• have completed at least 12 units at CSLA

Contact the Center for Student Financial Aid for more information.

Research Training and Career Development Programs

There are a variety of programs at Cal State LA which are designed to support students who are interested in pursuing careers in science. Many of these programs are funded by external agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). These programs vary in the types of activities they sponsor and their levels of student support. Several of these programs are listed below, but there is a turnover as existing programs end and new programs are established.

Bridges to the Future
There are two Bridges to the Future Programs. The Bridges to the BS Program targets community college students. It is a collaboration among four schools: East Los Angeles College, Los Angeles City College, Pasadena City College, and Cal State LA. The goal is to prepare minority science students for transfers to a four-year university where they will successfully complete the bachelor's degree and be prepared to enter advanced degree programs in the biomedical sciences. The second program is the Bridges to the Ph.D. Cal State LA, USC, UCLA and UC Irvine offer a cooperative program leading to the MS degree at CSLA and the Ph.D. degree at either of the other three schools. Visit the Bridges to the Future web site for more information on these two programs.

The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program offers a variety of student support activities including summer training programs, year-round research training programs, a competitive year-round scholars program, and a Bridges to the Doctorate (LSAMP-BD). It is a comprehensive, statewide program dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented minority groups graduating from campuses of the California State University (CSU) with baccalaureate degrees in the science, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. The level and type of support vary by program activity.

The Minority Access to Research Careers-Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC-U*STAR) Program is an undergraduate honors research training program for juniors and seniors. The objective is to increase the pool of well-prepared minority undergraduate students who can successfully compete for positions in top graduate programs leading to the Ph.D. Visit the MARC-U*STAR web site for more information.

The Minority Biomedical Research Support-Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (MBRS-RISE) Program is designed for talented and motivated students interested in developing professional careers as research scientists. It provides support for research participation and career enhancement of freshman-through-senior undergraduates, and graduate students pursuing the masters degree, with the expectation that student participants will pursue education to the Ph.D. following graduation from Cal State LA. There are three components of MBRS-RISE. The first is the President James M. Rosser Research Undergraduate Science Honors (RUSH) Program. This program targets new freshmen. The second component is the MBRS-RISE Undergraduate Scholars Program. This program targets undergraduates. There are also funds available for research supplies and travel to scientific conferences. The third component is the MBRS-RISE MS-to-Ph.D. Program. It involves a collaboration between Cal State LA and UCLA, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, and the University of Southern California. The program vertically integrates the M.S. at Cal State LA in chemistry, biochemistry, biology and microbiology and psychology with the graduate programs at the doctoral institutions. This program targets graduate students. Visit the MBRS-RISE web site for more information.

Teacher Training and Career Development Programs

California, as is true for most states, continues to face a serious crisis due to inadequate supply of properly credentialed middle and high school science and mathematics teachers, and continued attrition from teacher ranks due to retirements and early to mid career drop outs. This crisis is particularly acute for high needs school districts. A number of programs exist to encourage science majors to consider careers as middle school or high school teachers.

The Cal State LA Math and Science Teacher Initiative (MSTI) Program is funded by the CSU Chancellor's office to address the serious shortage of math and science teachers. MSTI strives to increase the number of competent credentialed math and science teachers graduating from Cal State LA. The MSTI program offers students who plan on becoming math or science teachers one time scholarships and forgivable loans. Visit the MSTI web site for more information.

Faculty Research Grants

In addition to the programs described above, many individual faculty members have research grants that support graduate students and/or undergraduates who work in their laboratories. Sources of funds include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other government agencies. Contact individual faculty members in the Biological Sciences to inquire about the availability of student support.

Graduate Student Teaching Assistantships

The Department of Biological Sciences employs graduate students who lead laboratory sections, particularly in general education biology courses and introductory biology courses for majors. Most teaching assistants teach lab sections twice a week and earn a salary which is based on the number of units that they teach. Inquire at the Department of Biological Sciences Office after you are enrolled in the MS program.

Financial Aid Resources for Graduate Students

Several programs are available which provide financial assistance for graduate students. These include the Graduate Equity Fellowship Program, the California Pre-Doctoral Program, the California Forgivable Loan/Doctoral Incentive Program, and the International Graduate Student Tuition Waiver Program. Support is also available for graduate students to present research at professional conferences and meetings. Visit the web site for the Office of Graduate Studies for more information.