Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the deadline for applying to the program?

We offer rolling admissions for the Masters, and strongly recommend that applicants submit applications and supporting materials ASAP.  Applications to the PhD program will only be considered for Fall enrollment. Deadline for submission is Dec 1.

2. Can a PhD applicants apply directly to the Nutrition and Metabolism program?

No, you must apply through the PiBS admissions process. Although you are not required to do so at the time of admission, if you declare that your research interests lie in nutrition and metabolism, you will be assigned an advisor who can guide you to appropriate coursework to develop your interests in this field before making a final decision about what mentor and department or program to join in the second year of your studies. Click here to go to the PiBS admissions page and look for the “Apply Here” link on that page.

3. What is the minimum GPA for admission consideration?

We do not have a minimum GPA to be considered for admission. We look at the applicant’s whole packet, including letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and research experience. However, the GPA does carry significant weight. Grades of at least a B in upper level science courses are usually needed.

4. What is the minimum TOEFL score for international students in order to be considered for admission?

We encourage the use of the internet-based version of the TOEFL test. We generally look for a total score of about 100 or higher on this test. A score of about 550 or higher is required on the paper-based test. The IELTS exam may be substituted for the TOEFL. A score of 6.5 or higher is generally needed for the IELTS. No English language exam is needed if you obtained a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the United States or in another country where all of your courses were taught in English.

5. How many letters of recommendation do I need?

Three letters are required, however we are willing to review more if you wish.

6. Who should write my letters of recommendation?

The best recommendations are those from faculty with whom you have had experience in both didactic, laboratory or other research settings. These would be the individuals who have seen your work in areas most closely related to your proposed graduate studies.

7. What is the institution code for submitting GRE scores?

The institution code is 3087.

8. What is the institution code for submitting TOEFL scores?

The institution code for TOEFL scores is 3087.

9. How long are my GRE scores valid?

Our program will accept scores as old as 5 years.

10. When do you start reviewing applications?

Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis for the master’s program. PhD will be made starting in February.

11. How many students are in the program?

There are currently approximately 25 students in the program at different stages in their studies. Only about 8-10 new master’s students and a few PhD students are admitted each year.

12. What is the mailing address for transcripts?

BU Graduate Medical Sciences Transcript Department
P.O. Box 9204
Watertown, MA 02471

13. What are the prerequisites for applying to the program?

We require the basic premed courses but the specifics are as follows:

Two undergraduate semesters of biology

Two undergraduate semesters of chemistry

At least one semester of undergraduate organic chemistry plus one semester of biochemistry OR 2 semesters of organic chemistry

Undergraduate biochemistry, physiology, cell biology, statistics and/or genetics are desirable, but not required.

14. How long does it normally take to complete a Ph.D./MA degrees?

The master’s program can be finished in one calendar year and you must enroll in four semesters: Fall, Spring, Summer I, and Summer II).

If you enter the Ph.D. program with a master’s degree, completing the degree in 4 years is achievable. If you enter with a bachelors degree, the PhD usually takes 5 years. Of course, it takes some students longer to finish (up to 6 years).

15. Does BU provide campus housing and/or assist with finding housing?

There is limited on-campus housing available. To assist you with this and other options the school maintains the following web site:

16. Does the program provide financial aid, scholarships and fellowships?

Full fellowships, with stipend, tuition and health insurance are available to PhD students on a competitive basis.

Some scholarships to offset the cost of tuition are available to Master’s students. The Financial Aid Office can assist with loan applications. To see if you may be eligible for loan funding and what the possibilities may be, you can call them at 617-638-5216.

17. What type of careers are typical for Ph.D. or MA graduates from this program?

Although our program is new, graduates of similar doctoral nutritional sciences programs typically go on to such careers as: research scientists or clinical associates in pharmaceutical or biotechnology developing compounds to treat obesity and diabetes, academic positions in major universities, medical centers or small colleges, coordinators of childhood obesity prevention programs, executives at biotech companies, medical writers, and so on. Master’s degree students go on to medical, dental and osteopathy studies, program coordinators for clinical and epidemiologic research projects, lab coordinators in academic or industry settings (e.g., pharma and food companies).

18. Is this program suited for getting my Registered Dietician (RD) credential?

This program does not offer the didactic courses or internships that are required for attaining the RD credential. Boston University’s Sargent School does have programs designed to lead to the R.D. credential.

19. What are class sizes like?

Class sizes range from 6 to 30 students. For first year, a few basic science courses may be much larger.

20. Is there a process for accepting graduate transfer credit and how does this work?

Requests for transfer credit would be made to the program’s curriculum committee. They may decide to accept the course(s) for transfer or to waive an academic requirement. If a course is waived, you may still be advised to take another more advanced course if recommended by the curriculum committee.

21. Can the Ph.D. and MA programs be started in the spring or summer?

Yes, they may be started in either term. Since the academic calendar year starts in the fall, you will receive additional guidance in selecting your courses that takes into account that you started at another time.

22. Can either the MA degree or Ph.D. be done on a part time basis?

Yes. You will need to work out a plan with your advisor.

23. Can I take courses as a non-degree student?

Courses may be taken with the permission of the director of the program and the instructor of the course. Non-degree students can take a maximum of 8 credits.