Apply to VAIGS

From student to scientist

Van Andel Institute Graduate School is intended for students seeking a Ph.D. in cell and molecular genetics 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 J-1 student (college and university) visa category; Van Andel Institute is not currently designated to sponsor F-1 visas.

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. Application forms are located in our online portal, which may be found below. There is no fee to apply. If you have any questions about the application process, please contact the Graduate School office at registrar@vai.org or call 616.234.5722.

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 perform well on the GRE and 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.

GRE score (general test)
Only scores from the past five years will be considered. A score on the general test is required. Subject-specific tests are optional.

TOEFL score

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. These references should complete and return the Standardized Admission Evaluation Form along with their letter.

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

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 application on our online portal, which may be accessed by clicking APPLY NOW below. There is no fee to apply. 

In addition to completing the online application, upload the following materials into the online portal:

  • A cover letter stating your interest in Van Andel Institute Graduate School. 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
  • A sample of your writing, such as a research report or essay describing your research experience and interests. The sample should demonstrate your ability to think and write scientifically.

Step two: Send the following items to:
                   Van Andel Institute Graduate School
                    Registrar’s Office
                    333 Bostwick Ave. NE
                    Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2518

  • Letters of recommendation from three faculty members who know you and your academic work and, if applicable, who supervised independent study or research. These references should complete and return the Standardized Admission Evaluation Form along with their letter.
  • Official transcript(s) of your academic record(s) sent directly from your home institution(s)
  • GRE scores from the general test. Only scores from the past five years will be considered. Subject-specific tests (e.g., biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, biology, chemistry, physics or mathematics) are optional. If you are currently enrolled in medical school, you may substitute MCAT scores for GRE scores.
  • TOEFL scores (for international students only)

    APPLY NOW     


Review Process


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


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.


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


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