Frequently Asked Questions


Any tips for the application process?
  • Read these FAQs
  • Consult the IB/CBS/university graduate studies website
  • Ask questions
  • Before agreeing on a position, talk or email current and past graduate students in your potential advisor's lab to get feedback on advising style, work conditions, expectations and support, etc...
Are grades important?

Yes & No

  • Yes: high grades - necessary for external scholarships and sometimes convince faculty members to consider your application.
  • No: high grades do not guarantee success in graduate school.
Do I need my own funding to start grad school?

Yes & No

  • Yes: with a scholarship, it will be a lot easier to convince an advisor to support your application
  • No: advisors often have their own

So it is important to contact potential advisors

How do I contact potential advisors?
  1. Check the individual faculty profiles on the IB website.
  2. Make a selection based on common interests.
  3. Write your email as an application letter:
  • A short summary of your past relevant research and work experience.
  • Your research interests and how they match up with the potential advisor's research program. Be specific here, show that you did your homework.
  • Explain how you can contribute to that research program.
  • Attach an updated C.V. and an official transcript.
Is it better to do my graduate studies at a different university from my undergrad?

Yes & No

  • No: Your advisor is more important than the university she is at.
  • No: Advisors often prefer working with a good undergrad who volunteered in her lab or did a research project with her because she knows the strengths of the student and the student potentially already has a lot of relevant background in the field of study.
  • Yes: Having 3 or more degrees from the same university can raise a flag at job interviews.
Is the degree course- or thesis-based?

Only thesis-based.

What are the minimum requirements?


  • BSc
  • B (75%) minimum average during final 4 semester of undergrad or for alternate admissions, significant record of experience (5 years)
  • support of faculty member willing to serve as thesis advisor


  • MSc in related field
  • A- (80%) minimum average in postgraduate studies
  • support of faculty member willing to serve as thesis advisor
  • PhD direct entry (without MSc) for exceptionally promising students
  • MSc to PhD transfer: after 1 year in MSc
What does "Integrative Biology" mean?
  • Check out the We Be IB Youtube video
  • Integrative Biology focuses on integration across biological levels, with the  organism as a center point and moving up (populations, communities,  ecosystems) and down (physiology, cell, genome)
    • Advantage: option/flexibility to expand into different biological realms
  • Half of our graduate students have faculty from different streams in their advisory committee, illustrating the integrative nature of the department
  • Acknowledges the history of the department, with the integration of the  botany and zoology departments in the early 2000s
What is the deadline for applying?
  • Open enrollment, throughout the year for Fall-Winter-Summer start.
  • 4 months in advance (but can be quicker if necessary).
What is the difference between a course- and thesis- based degree?


  • Training for specific job skills
  • Theoretical - practical
  • More prescribed by the program
  • Surveys of techniques


  • Training for career skills (e.g. active project management and problem-solving skills)
  • Knowledge development via scientific publications
  • Mentor-apprentice relationship
  • Explore an area of interest in great depth
Where do graduates of this program end up?

MSc Graduates

  • 21% start a PhD
  • 17% work as research staff in the private sector
  • 15% work as research staff in government
  • 14% work as research staff in academia

PhD Graduates

  • 44% start a post-doc
  • 17% work as a scientist in government
  • 5% work in research and teaching jobs