FSU Biology - Application Tips
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Biological Science - Graduate Studies

Florida State University

Application Tips

Tips for a successful application:
  1. Communicate with prospective faculty mentors prior to and after applying to the program.

    Students are strongly encouraged to contact and communicate with prospective faculty prior to applying to the program. While prospective students do NOT need a faculty sponsor prior to applying, each prospective student MUST have a faculty sponsor who is willing to serve as their formal mentor in order to be admitted. Early communication with potential faculty sponsors achieves multiple objectives. Prospective students can 1) verify that faculty members are interested in accepting students, 2) identify whether faculty that they may be interested in are a good match and can support the prospective student’s aspirations, and 3) maximize the probability that their application packet will be strongly considered by faculty of interest who are willing to sponsor a student.

  2. Apply for external fellowships.

    Applying for external fellowships shows initiative and also allows prospective students’ to substantially improve their competitiveness. External fellowships can supplement student stipends, provide funds for research-related travel and materials, or relieve students of teaching responsibilities, depending on the terms of the particular fellowship. Common examples of fellowships for US Citizens that include a full stipend, tuition, and are available to prospective students include:

  3. Clearly demonstrate in their application and essay:

    • How the graduate program can help them reach their long-term goals

      Our goal is to train graduate students and help them reach their aspirations. Prospective students should carefully research, consider, and explain how faculty in Ecology and Evolution, the Department of Biological Science, and Florida State University in general can help them in their development and in pursuit of their goals.

    • How their background has prepared them for success and how their presence can enrich the community

      Successful graduate students come from all backgrounds. Some students have extensive prior research experience, some have other professional experience and others bring non-traditional experiences. Prospective students should demonstrate how their experiences have prepared them for the challenges of graduate school and how their qualities and background can help enrich both our department and the field to which they hope to contribute.

    • Articulate why they want to attend graduate school

      Prospective students should explain why they have chosen to attend graduate school and demonstrate commitment to their professional and intellectual development over the course of a multi-year program. In doing so, they should show that they understand pursuit of a graduate education presents significant challenges and sacrifices.