School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

FAQ - Prospective Students

Graduate Studies in Cancer Biology - Recruiting Flyer

Application to the Program

I found a faculty member I would like to work with.
I join his/her lab without applying to the program?
No. The only way to be considered for a position in the program is to apply online.

Do you offer a Master’s Program?
No. the Cancer Biology Graduate Program only offers a PhD program.

When do you accept applications?
Applications are accepted November through January 15.
All materials must be received by the first of March.

When will my application be evaluated?
Wayne State has a rolling admissions process for the graduate program. The committee will begin evaluating complete applications in early January. If the committee is interested in pursuing an applicant, he or she will be offered an interview. The program has a limited number of positions each year, and once those positions are filled no more applicants will be evaluated. Therefore, please get your application in the ALERT system as early as possible! Students who have been offered a position in the Cancer Biology Graduate Program are expected to accept or decline no later than April 15th.

Do I have to take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) to apply?
Yes. Applications without GRE scores are incomplete, and will not be evaluated by the committee. GMAT, MCAT, or LSAT exams are not accepted in place of GRE scores. The only exception to the rule applies to WSUMD/PhD students who have already completed two years of medical school.

I took the MCAT. Do I still have to take the GRE?
Yes. MCAT scores are not accepted in place of GRE scores.

What is the minimum GRE score?
Each student’s GRE scores will be evaluated in comparison to other applicants within the same application period. There is no set minimum GRE score, but the average GRE composite percentile should be approximately 60% or better. The GRE Revised General Test replaced the GRE General Test on August 1, 2011 and the scoring ranges for quantitative and verbal measures have changed from 200-800 to 130-170. Older scores will be accepted if the test was taken less than two years before the application is evaluated by the committee.

I took the GRE three years ago. Do I have to retake it?
Yes. GRE scores cannot be more than two years old at the time the application is evaluated by the committee. If scores are more than two years old, the application is incomplete and will not be evaluated. There are no exceptions.

What is your Institution Code for the GRE/TOEFL?

Are GRE Subject Exams required?

I am an international student. Do I have to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)?
Yes. Exceptions can only be made for students who have received a Bachelor’s degree or higher in one of the following countries where English is the official language: Australia, Belize, the British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Greenland, Guyana, Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, the United States, and Wales. If you have a bachelor’s degree or higher from one of these countries then you do not have to take the TOEFL.

What is the minimum qualifying TOEFL/IELTS score? 
The minimum qualifying TOEFL score is Internet based 100. The score must be officially reported by ETS TOEFL, cannot be institutional, cannot be from provided by another university, and must be no more than two years old at the time the application is evaluated. There are no exceptions. The minimum qualifying IELTS score for the program is 7.0.

What is the minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) for the Cancer Biology Graduate Program?
The minimum GPA for admission through the IBS committee is 3.0. However, the average GPA for matriculating Cancer Biology Graduate Students is 3.5. If you have questions about your GPA please contact the program coordinator at

Are official transcripts required for admission?
Yes. Unofficial transcripts are very helpful in the initial screening of your application, and we strongly encourage you to upload them with your application. However, official transcripts must be on file with the Office of Graduate Admissions before your application can be evaluated by the committee.

I have a master’s degree. Do I have to send my bachelor’s transcripts?
Yes. Transcripts for all post-secondary coursework are required. All transcripts must be received before the application can be evaluated.

I have a master's degree, or medical degree from another country. Will I still have to go through the entire 4 - 5 year program?
YesStudents are not able to apply college credits to more than one degree.

I am a foreign student, and my transcripts are not in English. Can I send them as they are?
No. Transcripts in languages other than English must be provided with a corresponding transcript translated into English.

To what address should my official transcript(s) be sent?
Office of Graduate Admissions
Wayne State University
5057 Woodward, Suite 6000
Detroit, MI 48202

Whom should I ask to write letters of recommendation?
At least one of your recommendation letters should be written by a primary investigator (PI) with whom you have conducted research. Two or more letters from PI’s are ideal. Letters from teachers (i.e. professors) are acceptable, but can be perceived as less impactful if they are based on large lecture format classes rather than smaller discussion, or laboratory – based classes.  Letters from employers or colleagues that are not directly related to your scientific work (i.e., laboratory experience) are considered “character” references and are not recommended.

What should be in my Statement of Purpose?
Suggestions for enhancing your Statement of Purpose include (but are not limited to) answers to the following questions:

  • Why have you chosen Wayne State University’s cancer biology program at which to pursue a PhD?
  • Which faculty member(s) would you be interested in working with and why?
  • What are your career goals and why do you feel a PhD would enhance your career?
  • What experiences have you had that led you to the decision to apply to the Cancer Biology Graduate Program at Wayne State University?
  • How will your scientific background (coursework and research experiences) help you succeed in this program?

What should be in my Research Statement?
Suggestions for enhancing your Research Statement include (but are not limited to) answers to the following questions:

  • What is the extent of your research experience?
  • With whom have you conducted research and where?
  • What was your hypothesis, what experimental techniques did you employ, what were the results, and how did this experience influence your future goals?
  • Which Cancer Biology Graduate Program faculty member(s) research most interests you and why?
  • Do you have publications or published abstracts? If so please list them.

How many applicants will be admitted?
The program receives approximately 80 applications per year, and an average of 5 students will matriculate.

I still have questions. Is there someone I can contact?
Contact the Program Manager, at