Integrative Biology

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

Biological phenomena occur at various levels of structural organization, ranging from molecules to organisms, and from populations to the global ecosystem. Integrative Biology takes a whole-organism approach, extending from the genome and proteome through organismal traits (phenotypes), to communities and ecosystems. Through the coordinated study of multiple levels of biological organization over a broad range of spatial and temporal scales, Integrative Biology offers a unique approach to understanding fundamental questions concerning the evolution and maintenance of biological diversity, including organismal form and function, and ecological and ecosystem processes. This multidimensional approach underpins our graduate program, where students combine observational, experimental, and comparative approaches with the development of theory; and apply concepts and techniques from the biological sciences and other disciplines.

Integrative Biology admits students to the PhD program only.

View a recent IB graduate program information session we hosted at the 2020 Berkeley Graduate Diversity Admissions Fair in this video.

Visit Department Website



IB is a direct admit program. There are no lab rotations, and students admitted into the program enter directly into a particular IB faculty member's lab. Students interested in applying to the IB graduate program are strongly advised to contact potential faculty mentors before applying since not all faculty members will recruit students each year.

Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program

The online Graduate Application for Admission, Fellowship, and Financial Aid will be available in early September on the Graduate Division's website and will include the current deadline to apply to the program. The completed application must be submitted online and the fee paid by the deadline. Be sure to allow sufficient time for your letters of recommendation and test scores to arrive by the deadline. The department reviews applications for admission to our graduate program once a year. We accept applications for fall only.

Admissions Criteria

Initiating contact with faculty members; coursework; letters of recommendation; degree of preparedness for graduate school; and your statement of purpose are all important factors in our review of your application.

Contact IB Faculty 

It is required that you list on your application at least one faculty member in our department whose research is of interest to you. It is highly recommended that you contact them to discuss your interest in working with them. This contact is the first step in broadly defining areas of potential research focus and should be elaborated on in your statement of purpose.

Bachelor's Degree

Students admitted to the program typically have a bachelor's degree in one of the life sciences or physical sciences. However, promising students with other academic backgrounds are encouraged to apply if they have an undergraduate grounding in biology.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Upper division or graduate GPA of 3.4 or higher is preferred. A minimum GPA of 3.0 (courses taken after the first two years) is required by the Graduate Division.


For international students from countries in which the official language is not English, results of the TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language) are required. TOEFL exams must be recent (see info about this on the Grad Div website). Older exams will not be accepted even if your score was reported to Berkeley.

The GRE general test and the GRE subject test in biology or subject tests in other relevant disciplines are optional. No minimum GRE score is required for consideration. We will accept GRE scores taken within the last ten years. GRE Institution Code: 4833; Department Code: 0203.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation from faculty or other persons who have known you in an academic or research capacity. 

Statement of Purpose

Describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in your area of specialization, including your preparation for this field of study, your academic plans or research interests in your chosen area of study, and your future career goals. Please be specific about why UC Berkeley would be a good intellectual fit for you.

The statement should reflect serious intent, focus, maturity, motivation, and the ability to organize and articulate your thoughts on complex subjects.

There are no page limit restrictions although statements are typically one to two pages in length.

Personal History Statement

Please note that the personal history statement should not duplicate the statement of purpose.

Describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include information on how you have overcome barriers to access opportunities in higher education, evidence of how you have come to understand the barriers faced by others, evidence of your academic service to advance equitable access to higher education for women, racial minorities, and individuals from other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education, evidence of your research focusing on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, or evidence of your leadership among such groups.

Research Experience

Research experience is preferred. It helps to define interest and focus, and proven success with research is a positive indicator for success in the program.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

Total normative time is five years.

  • A course in evolutionary biology is the only specific course required of all graduate students. It must be taken for a letter grade during the graduate program if it was not completed during the student's undergraduate education. A student's supervisory committee may suggest courses as well.
  • Four semesters of residency as required by the Graduate Division. This means you must be registered for a minimum of four semesters. There are no departmental unit requirements for the Ph.D. program.
  • Students are required to be a graduate student instructor (GSI) for at least two semesters and must complete INTEGBI 375.
  • A student in the Ph.D. program must take a three-hour oral qualifying examination (QE) on fields specified by their QE committee (one of those fields must be evolution).
  • Ph.D. candidates are required to write a dissertation based on original and independent research carried out by the student.
  • Students are encouraged (but not required) to enroll in seminars in their field of specialization and present topics. Effective participation in seminars is a useful introduction to your field of specialization and may provide valuable direction for advanced study, particularly if you have not begun research activities.


Courses Required
INTEGBI 160Course Not Available (One course in evolutionary biology -- 160 or department-approved alternative)4
INTEGBI 375Teaching Colloquium: Graduate Student Instructor Training2
INTEGBI Electives in specialized study list - seminars and student presentations strongly advised


Integrative Biology

Contact Information

Department of Integrative Biology

3040 Valley Life Sciences Building

Visit Department Website

Department Co-Chair

Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D.

5186 Valley Life Sciences Building

Department Co-Chair

Eileen Lacey, Ph.D.

3101 Valley Life Sciences Building

Graduate Student Services Advisor

Monica J. Albe

3040 Valley Life Sciences Building

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