Prospective Students

The Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences (DGP) is one part of Northwestern’s PhD Program in Life and Biomedical Sciences.  The DGP is located on the Chicago campus within the Feinberg School of Medicine. Our sister program, IBiS,  is located on Northwestern's Evanston campus.  Under the NULaBS umbrella, students in both programs can pursue coursework and laboratory rotations on either campus and take full advantage of the impressive array of resources available across all of Northwestern.  Faculty from both campuses are collected in research clusters that unite faculty and students across the campuses. 

Applicants will apply for admission to ONLY ONE program, either DGP or IBiS.  Applicants should base the decison as to which program will best suit their training needs by focusing on the concentration of research faculty on each campus.

Application Deadline - The application deadline is December 15.


How We Evaluate Applications

The Driskill Graduate Program evaluates applicants for admission based on the entire application package. Our goal is to identify and offer admission to those individuals with potential for success in graduate school and beyond. To this end, we carefully examine each applicant's academic achievement and "hands on" research experiences.

The evaluation necessarily begins with numerical qualifications such as undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, and TOEFL scores for foreign students. Although there are no minimum scores required, entering classes typically have an average GPA of 3.5 (ranging from 3.0 to 4.0), and average GRE scores of 75% Verbal and 75% Quantitative. In addition to the cumulative GPA, the admissions committee looks most closely for success in basic and advanced biology and chemistry course work. A TOEFL score of 250 (computer) or 600 (paper) or 90 (internet) for all foreign applicants is a requirement of NU Graduate School, and cannot be waived by the DGP.  However, students studying in institutions within the US or in institutions where the language of instruction is English are exempt from the TOEFL requirement.

Beyond these numerical scores, our admissions committee places great emphasis on quality research experiences, strong letters of support from research and/or academic advisors, and a personal statement that indicates an appreciation of the research enterprise and a dedication to graduate training. Successful applicants are able to communicate a clear understanding of their own research experiences both in writing (personal statement included with application) and orally (during interviews).

At least one (and preferably more) of your letters of recommendation should be from an advisor who can comment on your performance in a research setting. In addition, your personal statement should indicate your specific research experiences, what you have learned from them, and how they have prepared you for graduate study.


Visiting Northwestern

The DGP selects approximately 90 applicants each year for visits to the Northwestern campus (at our expense) on three weekends in January, February and March. These invitations are extended to both US citizens and foreign students residing in the US.

These visits allow us to present our program in detail and to evaluate applicants in person. Visiting applicants will be interviewed formally by up to five DGP faculty. Equally importantly, however, the visit allows the applicant to meet informally with a large number of current students and faculty, to see the medical school facilities and surrounding neighborhoods, and to ask any and all questions about our program.

Applicants selected for interviews will be contacted via phone the Associate Director of the DGP. Typically we begin the selection and phone calls in December and continue to mid January. The weekend begins Thursday evening at a relaxed, informal dinner with a small number of faculty and students. Friday activities include a morning of informational sessions about the school and our research areas, informal lunch with faculty and students, individual interviews with five faculty members, a reception at the school, and finally dinner with students at nearby restaurants. Saturday (optional) includes an opportunity to see student housing and applicants are encouraged to spend part of the day exploring Chicago. Applicants depart Saturday afternoon or evening.


International Applicants

The DGP welcomes applications from students who are citizens of countries outside the US. If you are a foreign student residing or training in the US or Canada, you will be eligible for an in-person interview at our expense (see above) if selected by the admissions committee.

Applicants residing outside the US, if selected by the admissions committee, will be interviewed by phone.


Certification of proficiency in English.  All applicants whose native language is not English must certify their proficiency in the English language.  An applicant may certify proficiency the following ways:

  • Providing official scores for either the TOEFL or IELTS exam. The test must be taken no more than two years before the intended quarter of entry. For the TOEFL, you must score 600 or higher on the paper-based test, 250 or higher on the computer-based test, 90 or higher on the internet based test. For the IELTS, you must receive a score of 7.0 or higher.
  • Providing official transcripts verifying an undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year institution or equivalent, where the language of instruction is English.
  • Providing official transcripts verifying a graduate degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English.


Financial Support and Fellowships

All entering DGP students (including foreign nationals) are supported by a Northwestern University Fellowship that provides a living stipend, full tuition support, and paid coverage in the NU student health service and insurance plan.

For 2013-14, the stipend will be $28,500. After arrival in September, all incoming students receive an additional one time allowance of $1000 to help offset moving expenses.

DGP students are guaranteed continued support throughout their graduate career as long as they continue to make satisfactory progress towards the PhD degree.

Entering students are provided full tuition and a stipend for the first six quarters from pre-doctoral fellowships provided by the DGP and the Feinberg School of Medicine. As graduate education continues, all students in good academic standing continue to receive full tuition support and stipends for living expenses for their entire residency at Northwestern. After the first six quarters, students are supported from a variety of sources, including faculty research grants, NIH funded training grants, outside scholarships, teaching assistantships, or special graduate fellowships.

Specific Application Instructions