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.

The Department of Integrative Biology at Berkeley explores life at all levels and our scientific community pursues research across three main areas:

  • Tree of Life: Biodiversity and Global Change

  • The Tangled Bank: Species Interactions & Biological Communities 

  • Human Connections: Origins, Health and Quality of Life

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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

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application and steps to take to apply can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

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 the faculty you plan to list in your application and discuss your interest in working with them before submitting your application. Not all of our IB faculty recruit a graduate student each year, so when contacting faculty, please check to see if they are considering applicants for the admission cycle you plan on applying to. This faculty 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. Please see the Graduate Division's website for more information.

Personal Statement

Please note that the personal 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. Please see the Graduate Division's website for more information.

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. Publications and or national or international conference presentations are not required, but please mention experience like that if you have it.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

Total normative time is five years.

  • A course in evolutionary biology is 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. See below for the other required courses. A student's supervisory committee may suggest courses as well.
  • Annual Reviews with a faculty committee for each year in the program. 
  • 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 two to 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 and to give a finishing talk at the culmination of their PhD. Effective participation in seminars and giving presentations are important for scientific and professional development.
  • It is highly recommended that students attend our weekly department seminars in each semester they are enrolled in our program.
  • For more information and for program expectations of all IB Graduate Students, please see our website.

Required Curriculum

Courses Required
INTEGBI C160Evolution4
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

Mike Boots, Ph.D.

5017 Valley Life Sciences Building

Department Co-Chair

Eileen Lacey, Ph.D.

3101 Valley Life Sciences Building

Graduate Program Manager

Monica J. Albe

3040 Valley Life Sciences Building

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