Graduate Program

Views from graduate students
Online application

The Department has an excellent graduate program leading to M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees by research. It has a strong research culture and aspires to strengthen it further. The infrastructure and research facilities along with research interests in the three main focus areas including Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology; Ecology, Biodiversity and Environmental Biology; and Biophysical Sciences, Computational and Structural Biology. Our graduate students have the opportunity to develop sound knowledge in life sciences and learn cutting edge techniques in several of our state-of-the-art facilities. They also have opportunities to interact with some of the well known visiting scientists.

Admission criteria

We follow the admission guidelines established by the university. The minimum requirement for admission is a B.Sc. degree (equivalent four years of undergraduate program)

Local students
GRE requirement waived for students graduating with honors degree from NUS or NTU

Overseas students
To provide scores of GRE (minimal requirements: verbal and quantitative abilities between the range of 310 and 320, analytical writing: 3.5) or Graduate Aptitude in Engineering (GATE) minimum 90 percentile. Applicants who do not have their earlier education in the English language need to provide Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) test of scores of minimum 85 for internet-based test or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test of scores of minimum 6.

NUS research scholarships

Research Scholars will be given a monthly stipend and a tuition fee subsidy as indicated in Fees for Graduate Programmes

More about research scholarships

There are two intakes to our graduate program, following the practice at the Faculty of Science. Application deadlines are:

Intake All Applicants Applicants who are NUS and NTU graduates
Semester 1 (Aug) 15 Nov of the previous year 15 Nov of the previous year
Semester 2 (Jan) 15 May of the previous year 15 May of the previous year






Application Fees

With effective from 1 July 2011, the applicants would be able to pay for the application fees using credit cards
Online application S$20 per application (inclusive of prevailing GST)
Paper-based application S$40 per application (inclusive of prevailing GST)

Laboratory rotation program

All new graduate students are required to select two labs and spend one month in each lab. The new students can work with a senior student or other lab members during the attachment period. Each student is to write a short report (2-3 pages long) on completion of the attachment to the two labs. At the end of this period, students are to decide to work for the thesis research in one of the two labs to which they were attached.

Course work requirements

All students need to meet the following course work requirements:

M.Sc. program:

Three graduate modules (level 5000) and achieve a minimum Cumulative Average Grade Point (CAP) of 3.0 (equivalent to B- average) out of a maximum of 5.0 points.

Ph.D. program:

Six graduate modules (level 5000); and achieve a minimum CAP of 3.5 (equivalent to B average).

Qualifying examination (QE) for Ph.D. program

Ph.D. students are required to pass QE within two years. The QE consists of two parts: the written and oral QEs. The written QE, held at the beginning of every semester, is to test the fundamental knowledge in biological field and students are advised to take this test in their third semester of study. The oral portion of the QE is evaluated based on three areas, research progress, proposed research project and student’s knowledge on the proposed research topic. The students need to submit a written report comprising a research plan including background, preliminary results obtained by them and the future plan for project completion. The Department will form a QE committee for each student and the student needs to present an open seminar to the department and undergo the oral examination. The QE Committee then determines and recommends whether the student is to continue the Ph.D. program. The students who fail the QE will stay in the graduate program and complete M.Sc. theses.


Graduate students are the major work force in our research programs in the department. Every year, over half of the scientific papers from our department are contributed by graduate students. Many of the papers are published in top scientific journals such as Nature, Science, Cell, Nature Genetics, Nature Immunology, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Structural Biology, Current Biology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, EMBO Journal, etc.

Departmental seminars and journal clubs

Attendance in the departmental seminars is compulsory for graduate students. Our regular departmental seminars are scheduled on Fridays from 4 PM to 5 PM. To improve the skill of oral presentation and to develop the ability of critical thinking, all students are required to join a journal club. In the journal club, on a rotation basis, students will present a research paper (usually outside their fields) from a recent, top scientific journal and discuss the paper with fellow students and professors. Currently there are ten journal clubs with different research focuses in the department.

Graduate congress

Each year, the department holds a graduate congress. This congress is run by the graduate students themselves and aims to increase communication among the students within and outside of the department (regionally as well as internationally). The graduate congresses have been conducted every year since 1996. Each congress has its own theme. The 2008 congress was held in Singapore hosted by our department, with the theme of "The Big Bang of Biological Sciences: unveiling the complexities of life". Now the congress is rotating among Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

Financial assistance for attending international conferences

Our graduate students may receive partial financial assistance from the department for attending international conferences depending on the availability of funds. Each student can avail one such travel support during the tenure as graduate student. The primary factor for support will be the academic merit of the paper or poster being presented along with the reputation of the conference. Additionally, priority will be given to students who actively participate in organizing the departmental activities. Students may also be able to receive funding for conference travel from


In addition to the NUS Research Scholarship, outstanding students have opportunities to receive other prestigious awards such as NUS President's Fellowship, Singapore Millennium Foundation Fellowship, Lee Kong Chian Fellowship, etc. Several awards for best theses are also available, for example, Wang Gungwu Medal, Chua Toh Hua Memorial Gold Medal, and ISPMB Gold Medal. Every year, we have several students who win these awards.

Other affiliated graduate programs

The SMA "Computation and Systems Biology" (CSB) degree program is a partnership between the world-recognized CSBi program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the visionary biology, bioengineering, and biotechnology programs at NUS, NTU, and the A*STAR Research Institutes.

Our students come from backgrounds in either biology (with strong math skills), physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, or engineering and are attracted to the interdisciplinary nature of the CSB degree program, with a strong interest in systems and computational approaches to stem cell and tissue biology . Students accepted into the CSB track will take a selection of modules offered in Singapore and MIT , including courses beamed live from MIT -- a signature feature of the high degree of integration between the Singapore and the MIT/CSBi PhD courses. The CSB program courses cover topics in computational biology, systems biology, genomics, proteomics and imaging theory and technology, some of which will be team-taught by faculty members from Singapore and MIT.  As part of the CSB degree program, concepts emphasized in the class room are applied in research projects that are tightly linked to the education program.

CSB research projects focus on the development of advanced technologies in biological probes, imaging, and computational biology, and the application of these technologies to medically relevant problems in tissue biology, including stem cell differentiation, tissue morphogenesis, infectious disease models, and tissue physiology. Anchored  at the Department of Biological Sciences since 2005, this program currently has 49 students on board.

To SMA website

For further information, please contact:

Graduate Office
Department of Biological Sciences
14 Science Drive 4
National University of Singapore
Singapore 117543
Email: DBS Graduate Admission