Application Process

If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in Botany, the first thing you should do is identify one or more faculty members with whom you would like to work. If a faculty member is interested in having you join her/his lab, she/he will advocate for your admission. We suggest that you contact faculty members to introduce yourself and to inquire whether they are looking for prospective M.S. or Ph.D. students. If you do not receive a timely response, contact the Botany Department office to ask if the faculty member is off campus for an extended period. We also suggest that you contact current graduate students who work with faculty members whom you have contacted. Here are suggested questions to ask faculty and graduate students.

Visiting campus to meet with your potential advisor is often valuable and informative for both prospective students and faculty. You may visit campus before or after submitting your official application. Faculty may invite prospective students to visit or applicants may take initiative to visit. In either case, coordinate with your potential advisor so you can arrange to meet with other faculty, staff, and current graduate students. Contact the Graduate Program Coordinator, at for information on possible recruitment events and financial assistance for travel expenses.

After you have identified a prospective advisor, completion of the Graduate School's online application form initiates the application process. Applications that meet the Graduate School’s entrance requirements, as described in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School Catalog, are forwarded to the Botany Department. The Botany Department’s Graduate Program Committee will select candidates for advanced degrees from the applications forwarded from the Graduate School. The number of admissions possible in any given year is typically limited by the department's ability to provide financial support.

Admission into the Botany graduate program is based on the applicant's

  • undergraduate record
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores
  • three letters of recommendation
  • previous research experience and
  • shared interests with one or more potential faculty advisors

To ensure consideration for both admission to and financial support from the Botany graduate program, we must receive your complete application by December 1st. Refer to the Application Checklist to ensure your application is complete. Late applications may be reviewed until April 15th.

In general, the Botany Department looks for an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Recommended prior college-level coursework includes:
  • Mathematics: up to and including one semester of calculus
  • Statistics: at least one semester
  • Biology: strong background in the biological sciences, typically including coursework in cell biology, ecology, evolution, genetics, molecular biology, and systematics
  • Chemistry: general chemistry and organic chemistry
  • Physics: at least one course that included electricity and light
  • Foreign Language: two years at High School or two semesters at college

Incoming graduate students who have not taken the recommended prior coursework may be directed to make up deficiencies that are deemed sufficiently important to the student’s graduate program by the department’s Academic Advisory Committee and/or the student’s major professor and graduate committee.

All applicants are required to take the GRE general test. The GRE subject test in Biology or in Cell and Molecular Biology is not required but, if available, will be considered in the admissions process and in awarding assistantships.

Click here to see answers to FAQ’s about the application/selection process.