Skip to content Skip to navigation
Resources and Information on COVID-19 Ask a Question

Applying to QSB

QSB seeks applications from motivated, high-performing students with all relevant degrees in science or engineering. Students are encouraged to cross over fields and expand the interdisciplinarity of their training through QSB.

All applicants are encouraged to research the exciting diversity of research opportunities offered by QSB and contact multiple faculty and the program with any questions you may have.

Admissions Process: Rotation and Declaration Tracks

Applicants for Fall 2021: The priority application deadline is December 15, 2020 and the regular application deadline is January 15, 2021. We encourage everyone to submit their applications by the priority deadline.

Applicants to the Master's degree can skip directly to the Preparing your application section below.

PhD students in QSB have the option of applying to QSB via two tracks: rotation track or declaration track. To specify your desired track, please complete the general program application through the Graduate Division application website. Once the application deadline passes, applicants will receive an email from QSB asking them to complete an additional, QSB-specific form that lists their interests in the different admission tracks.
 

Rotation Track

Most students will apply to QSB via the rotation track. In this case, students will rotate in two to three QSB labs in their first year and then choose, by mutual agreement, an advisor for the rest of their graduate research. Rotations are desirable because they:
  • contribute to cohesion of research culture in QSB by exposing students to more labs;
  • provide unique training opportunities to diffuse knowledge and skills between labs;
  • increase the ultimate fit between students and advisors;
  • enable cooperative recruitment and training of students across labs;
  • make it easier for the program to act autonomously and quickly in recruiting applicants; and
  • provide a check-point after the first year for the evaluation of student fit to the program.
Rotation students will aim to rotate in a minimum of two QSB member labs. Rotations provide a student a flavor of what it is like to be in the host lab. In some cases, students will have specific tasks assigned to them; in other cases they will simply be integrated into lab activities (e.g., attending lab meetings, meetings with advisors, etc.).
 
The goal of rotations is for all students to find a faculty advisor or co-advisors by the start of their second year in the program. All parties, student and advisor(s), must mutually consent. Rotations are normally 7.5 weeks long; two rotations occur during the first semester and a third rotation may occur at the beginning of the second semester. 
 
All applicants are advised to apply to QSB via the Rotation Track if they have any uncertainty about which QSB lab they might wish to join. Once the application deadline has passed, you will receive an email from QSB asking you to indicate which track you are applying through, and if you are applying via rotation track, you can list the names of any faculty members whose research is particularly interesting to you.  These faculty represent people you may be interested in doing rotations with, but ultimately your rotation labs will be decided after acceptance into the program.  
 
Please note: Rotation track applicants cannot change to Declaration Track after submission of application materials. 

Declaration Track

For some applicants and in some fields, applying to work with one advisor or a set of co-advisors directly is preferable. In this case, it is possible for students to apply to QSB with the intention to forgo rotations and directly join one or more QSB faculty member’s labs, via the Declaration track.  For some students, this is preferred because:
  • this is a dominant recruitment model in certain QSB member fields;
  • this can increase recruitment of more advanced and experienced scholars to QSB; and 
  • this can incentivize and reward faculty to recruit students to their labs through QSB.
 
QSB strongly encourages Declaration Track applicants to communicate with prospective PIs prior to submission of their application materials.  After the application deadline has passed, you will receive an email from QSB asking you to indicate which track you are applying through, and if you are applying via declaration track, you will be asked to list the faculty with whom you would like to work. This designation can take one of two forms: 1) if you will be co-advised (by up to three advisors), you will list the unranked names of your prospective co-advisors. In this case, all named faculty must agree to co-advisement of the applicant in order to admit the student; alternatively, you can 2) submit up to two ranked faculty member names, and you will be evaluated for admission by those faculty in the order listed (in addition to the normal QSB program review process undergone by all candidates).
 
Please note: Declaration track applicants can only change to Rotation Track after submission of application materials within two weeks after the QSB application deadline, with written approval from QSB.
 
Still have questions about the two tracks? Contact the program or talk to individual faculty in QSB. 

Preparing your Application

Interested students should review how to apply for graduate study at the Graduate Division website, introduce themselves by email to at least one QSB faculty member with Curriculum Vitae and cover letter, and apply to QSB. Late or incomplete applications are not guaranteed consideration. As of Fall 2020, the QSB program does not require GRE scores. Submitting GRE scores is optional and scores are not used in our admissions rubric. The admission committee will make no assumptions if a GRE score is omitted from an application. There is significant evidence that GRE scores disadvantage certain populations and benefit others in the application process, and the GRE may be a potential barrier to certain populations due to the cost associated with taking the test. However, the inclusion of a good score may improve the chances of getting admitted to a particular lab. Students who wish to pursue graduate studies under the mentorship of a specific faculty member should consult with them before applying.

QSB admits students on the total package of their application, with the understanding that an applicant's GPA can impact decision dates and financial guarantees. Strong applicants will possess the following:

  • Research experience, including undergraduate research experience, Master’s degree, and participation in REUs.

  • Professional presentations, including poster or oral presentations at campus-, regional-, or national level meetings, including undergraduate-specific meetings.

  • Authorship on scientific publications.

  • Fellowships and awards, including campus- or regional-level awards, travel awards, national/society level awards, and federal/international grants or awards.

  • Contributions to diversity.

  • An excellent academic record.

  • Strong letters of recommendation.

  • Motivation for research as evidenced by statement of purpose and personal history statement.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required. Students applying to the QSB program should obtain at least one letter of recommendation from a person who supervised your research experience. Strong letters will speak to your intellectual ability, character, work ethic, creativity, ability to overcome challenges, and detail the quality of your previous work and potential for future productive scholarship.

Statement of Purpose

Strong QSB applicants will clearly communicate their interest and motivation for graduate school, summarize their undergraduate/graduate achievements, state their future academic objectives, and discuss how QSB fits those objectives. Your statement will help determine whether your academic objectives can reasonably be satisfied in the QSB graduate program.

Personal History and Achievement/Contributions

The Personal History and Achievements/Contributions statement is required and provides admission committees insight into an applicant’s background, accomplishments, achievements or contributions that are important in evaluating the applicant for graduate study. Relevant information includes educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities pertinent to the applicant’s academic journey, and contributions to diversity.

QSB admits students as part of a general cohort on the basis of overall fit to the program, including faculty interest. Applications are normally for Fall semester only. Deferrals will be considered on an individual basis, with applications due no later than seven months prior to the beginning of the semester when the student would like to begin graduate studies.

More Information

For more information, send inquiries to jzarate@ucmerced.edu and check out the resources available through the UC Merced Graduate Division.

View the QSB digital brochure