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Apply to Van Andel Institute Graduate School

From student to scientist

Van Andel Institute Graduate School is intended for students seeking a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology that prepares them for leadership positions in biomedical research.

The program is open to all applicants regardless of race, gender, ethnic or national origin, religion or age. Individuals from demographic groups that are underrepresented among professional scientists are especially encouraged to apply. The Graduate School welcomes international applicants (those who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents). International applicants admitted to VAIGS will be sponsored in the F-1 student visa program.

To ensure full consideration for fall admission, applications should be received by December 1 the year prior to that in which the student will matriculate. If you have any questions about the application process, please contact the Graduate School office at registrar@vai.org or call 616.234.5722.

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Admission requirements

Bachelor of Arts or Science (B.A. or B.S.) degree or equivalent from an accredited college or university prior to enrollment 
Typical preparation includes courses in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, physics and mathematics. Applicants with other academic backgrounds may be considered if they provide appropriate evidence of excellent training, qualifications and motivation.

Research experience 
As an important part of admission criteria, research experience may include undergraduate research internships, summer research programs, Master’s thesis research or medical research clerkships. Successful applicants will demonstrate these experiences have provided a thorough understanding of what a research career entails, that they have passion for research and that they have exceptional talent and aptitude for science.

Overall academic excellence
The Graduate School does not have a GPA threshold; however, students should demonstrate a solid academic record and commitment to academic excellence.

Three letters of recommendation from faculty members 
It is highly recommended that applicants acquire letters from faculty members who know them and their academic work and, if applicable, who supervised independent study or research. The recommenders’ contact information must be entered in the Supporting Information quadrant of the application and the system will automatically email the recommenders.

High competence in skills important to a career in scientific research
These skills include critical thinking, writing and public speaking.

We do not require the GRE. 

A deep passion for understanding the mysteries of life and disease as well as a commitment to the improvement of health.

Good character

How to apply

Step one: Fill out the BioMedCas application, which may be accessed here.

  The BioMedCAS application will require standard personal information.
  VAIGS requires letters of recommendation from three faculty members who know you and your academic work and, if applicable, who supervised independent study or research. The recommenders’ contact information must be entered in the Supporting Information quadrant of the application. The system will automatically email the recommenders who can then respond with their feedback to BioMedCAS by email.

As part of the BioMedCAS application, upload the following materials:

  A personal statement. Tell us why you want to pursue a research-focused Ph.D. and, specifically, why Van Andel Institute Graduate School is right for you.
  A personal curriculum vitae or resume
  Electronic versions of transcript(s) of your academic records. Unofficial copies are acceptable for application, but official copies sent directly from your home institution(s) must be submitted prior to matriculation.

Step two:

International admission requirements

International applicants should follow the same application process as non-international students, but the following additional documents will be required before an offer of admission can be made:

  • Proof of English proficiency by one of the following methods:
    • Official scores from an English proficiency standardized test (TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo) sent by the testing agency to Van Andel Institute Graduate School. Official scores must be less than two years old. Minimum required scores are as follows:  TOEFL PBT: 580, TOEFL iBT: 90, IELTS: 6.5, Duolingo: 110.
    • Official signed transcript from an accredited United States college or university showing completion of a baccalaureate degree or higher. Degrees earned online may not be used to verify English proficiency.
    • Official signed transcript from an international (non-U.S.) college or university showing completion of a baccalaureate degree or higher with instruction conducted primarily in English. If the transcript does not explicitly state that English was the primary language of instruction, an official signed letter from the Registrar’s (or equivalent) Office must also be submitted stating that English was the primary language of instruction.  Degrees earned online may not be used to verify English proficiency.
    • English proficiency waiver – Van Andel Institute Graduate School may waive the English proficiency documentation (i.e., test score or official final transcript) requirement in the following two circumstances:
      • The prospective student holds a passport from a country in which the primary official spoken language is English, as indicated in The World Factbook; OR
      • The prospective student is currently enrolled in or recently graduated from a baccalaureate degree program (or higher) at an accredited U.S. college or university OR international (non-U.S.) college or university with instruction conducted primarily in English, and as a result, cannot submit an official final transcript prior to Van Andel Institute Graduate School admission. *Please note that an official final transcript will still be required for enrollment purposes prior to matriculation; the waiver is only for purposes of proving English proficiency prior to issuance of Form I-20 or DS-2019.
      • Waivers are not automatic. To be eligible for a waiver, the student must request the waiver and demonstrate suitable English proficiency during their Van Andel Institute Graduate School admissions interview to successfully complete the academic program and function safely on a day-to-day basis in the United States.

All transcripts from academic institutions outside of the United States must be accompanied by an official course-by-course evaluation, including U.S. GPA conversion, from World Education Services (WES), International Credential Evaluators, International Educational Evaluators or another agency approved by the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services. Transcript evaluations will be at the student’s own expense. Students are encouraged to submit the transcript evaluation(s) as soon as possible after submitting their application, because an admissions offer cannot be made until the evaluation is received and reviewed by the Admissions Committee.

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Review Process

December

Applications will be reviewed by a team of Van Andel Institute Graduate School faculty members.

January/February

Selected candidates will be invited to visit Van Andel Institute for interviews. Visitors will meet with the admissions team, with faculty members who might serve as future research mentors and with current students and/or postdoctoral associates. In some cases, students may be interviewed by telephone instead.

March

The admissions team will recommend admission for selected students; offers of admission will be issued by the Graduate School Dean.

April

Students receiving offers will respond with their decision by April 15.