How to Apply

Plant Biology evaluates graduate applications by holistic review, considering skills, experiences, and personal attributes. We assess your transcripts, letters of recommendation, CV, and your personal statement. Below we specify the components, in no particular order, that are considered for evaluation. 

Students are strongly encouraged to contact those faculty they are interested in working with prior to submitting an application.

Applications must be submitted to the University of Massachusetts Graduate School along with the application fee. The on-line application is through the SPIRE system.

Deadline for Submission of Applications:

Applications are due at the Graduate School by December 1st for admissions the following September (fall semester). 

Applications received after the deadline will be considered as space allows.

Required Materials

Applicants must submit the standard University of Massachusetts Application form for Graduate School, available online.

Applicants should apply for either the MS or the PhD program. The Plant Biology Graduate Program does not have a MS/PhD track.

Official transcripts, and two letters of reference must be provided. Submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores is not required.

See this website for English language proficiency requirements for international student.

We encourage you to use your personal statement to address the following components, as applicable.

  • Academic performance: This refers to your scholarship. Have you taken and succeeded in courses that provide the foundations for Plant Biology? Or in other related disciplines? Are there any circumstances that might have slowed or hindered your academic progress?
  • Perseverance: This refers to your ability to overcome obstacles, either personal or scientific. Being a successful scientist requires the ability to set long term goals and achieve them, and the capacity to not be daunted by failure. How has your perseverance helped you reach where you are now? Note that the perseverance might relate to academics but could also relate to events outside of school.  
  • Research experience: If you have had the opportunity to carry out research, what have you done? What questions did you ask with the research? What did the research teach you (about science; about yourself)? 
  • Passion for Plant Biology: This refers to your conviction on this career path. Why do you want to study plant science? 
  • Communication skills: Success in academia entails a commitment to communicating clearly through various means. Consider relating any experiences or training you have had in this area. Keep in mind that your personal statement itself will reveal something about your ability to communicate.  
  • Alignment to the research program: This refers to your “fit” with our program. How do you see yourself fitting into the Plant Biology program? Which labs do you think may be of interest to you? Are you or have you been in contact with any professor?
  • Contributions to diversity: We are interested in building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive program. Tell us about how you may contribute to these efforts either through your life experiences or your understanding of current barriers facing underrepresented communities. 

Online Applications/Obtaining Applications

Applications for Graduate School and the University of Massachusetts can be obtained online ( or by writing or calling -

Graduate Admissions Office,
534 Goodell Building
University of Massachusetts,
Amherst, Massachusetts 01003-3291
(413) 545-0722

Graduate Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

Or email Graduate Admissions at:

The Plant Biology Graduate Program has a number of application fee waivers it can grant prospective students, including international applicants, who have faced adversity, such as societal, economic, or academic disadvantages. We will additionally consider application fee waiver requests from applicants who are first generation students and students who have been traditionally underrepresented in graduate education in Plant Biology and/or have participated in the following professional organizations or conferences: ABRCMS, MANRRS, and SACNAS. Applicants should inquire about waiver eligibility with the program office. If an application fee waiver is granted, applicants should select the "pay by check" option on the application and notify the program office when it is submitted.


Potential applicants are encouraged to read through the PB website to learn more about the faculty, curriculum, and facilities. Applicants are welcome to visit our campus to tour facilities and discuss research interests with faculty after submitting an application. In particular, applicants to the MS program should have a clear idea of which faculty member they wish to work with. It is advisable for MS applicants to contact potential faculty advisors directly before applying. You should contact the program office to arrange any subsequent visits. The admissions committee may request a formal interview with MS and PhD applicants, generally during a recruiting weekend in the spring.