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Graduate Program Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Watson School of Biological Sciences

  • Cold Spring Harbor, NY
  • Private
  • Small
  • 45%55%
    student ratio
  • 51
    total students
  • Not Reported
    in-state tuition | out-of-state tuition
  • December 1
    fall application deadline
  • 11%
    acceptance rate
  • 1 Degree
    degrees/awards offered


Ph.D. Program at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

The Ph.D. program at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) trains students to identify important questions in the biological sciences and to develop innovative approaches to answer these questions. The goal of the program is to educate students to think critically and logically about broad areas of the biosciences, and to understand the importance of scientific inquiry in society as a whole. Students are encouraged to explore their scientific interests through independent research.

The Ph.D. program at CSHL takes approximately four years. Coursework and rotations are completed in the first year. In subsequent years, students devote themselves to full-time research. The program pays the student's stipend, tuition, associated study costs, and a research budget, meaning that students can choose any CSHL laboratory for their thesis research, regardless of an individual laboratory's budget.

Renowned Research Faculty

CSHL is renowned for its excellent faculty. The program boasts 51 research faculty members that direct independent programs, providing a diverse range of research topics for students to explore. This international group of scientists offers a variety of perspectives on biological problems and works closely with students in courses and in the labs.

Throughout its history, CSHL has been the site of important breakthroughs in the biosciences: the mechanisms of RNA interference and transposon silencing; a genetic distinction between heritable and sporadic forms of autism; identification of genes leading to increased crop production in tomato and oil palm; and novel therapeutics for acute myeloid leukemia and spinal muscular atrophy. CSHL was ranked first in the world for impact in molecular biology and genetics by Thomson Reuters citation index.

Two-tier Mentoring

The faculty guides students through their Ph.D. studies at CSHL. Each student selects two faculty mentors: one for research and one for academics. This two-tier mentoring gives students extensive support during their graduate studies and helps ensure students stay on track toward their research goals, Two-tier mentoring also provides students with scientific advice from different expert perspectives. Finally, when students are considering career options, the two faculty mentors can give insight into alternative areas and extend the student's network of connections to academia, industry, or other scientific careers.

Broad Representation of the Biological Sciences

During the Fall Term of the first year, students take three core courses, Scientific Reasoning and Logic, Scientific Exposition and Ethics, and Research Topics, which deliver a broad foundation in the biosciences. Students additionally take four courses in specialized disciplines: quantitative biology, systems neuroscience, cell structure and function, and genetics and genomics. In order to provide students with a background in topics beyond the research interests at CSHL, intensive one-week Topics in Biology courses cover a range of areas, such as evolution, physical cell biology, and immunology. Following the first year of coursework, students elect to take three courses from the extensive CSHL Meetings & Courses program. These courses provide advanced training in state-of-the-art techniques and methods and highlight emerging areas of research.

In the Spring Term of the first year, students complete three laboratory rotations in order to try out research in different areas of the biological sciences. Students gain teaching experience at the Dolan DNA Learning Center, where they instruct short courses for middle and high school students from around the region. Upon completing the first-year curriculum, students select an area of specialization and a research adviser for their doctoral thesis.

The Campus Community

CSHL Ph.D. Program students live in a variety of subsidized housing either on campus or in the surrounding area. In the first year, students generally live in one of the two renovated 19th century houses located on the shore of the harbor opposite the main CSHL campus.

The CSHL campus is located on the wooded north shore of Long Island, 35 miles east of New York City. The Laboratory offers many amenities, both cultural and recreational. There is a fitness room, tennis and volleyball courts, a private beach, sailboats, and many quiet back roads for running or walking. Frequent direct trains from Cold Spring Harbor arrive at Penn Station in Manhattan in less than an hour, making New York City easily accessible.

Location & Contact

Graduate Program

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Watson School of Biological Sciences

1 Bungtown Road
Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724
United States


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Degrees & Award

  • Degrees Offered
    • Major Degree Levels Offered
    • Biological And Biomedical Sciences Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Degrees Awarded
    • Master's Degrees 2
    • Doctoral Degrees 10
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported
    • * Shows the number of degrees awarded for the last academic year that data was reported.
  • Earning Your Degree
    • Part-time study available? No
    • Evening/weekend programs available? No
    • Distance learning programs available? No
    • Terminal master's degree available? Yes
  • Degree Requirements
    • Master's Degrees Not reported
    • Doctoral Degrees
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported


11% of applicants are admitted.
  • Acceptance Rate
    • Applied 274
    • Accepted 31
    • Acceptance Rate 11
    • Enrolled 12
  • Applying
    • Application Fee - Domestic $60
    • Application Fee - International $60
    • Electronic applications accepted? Yes
    • Applications processed on a rolling basis? Not Reported
  • Application Deadlines
    • Type Domestic International Priority Date
    • Fall deadline December 1st December 1st Not Reported
    • Winter deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
    • Spring deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
  • Entrance Requirements
    • Master's DegreesNot Reported
    • Doctoral's DegreesGRE (recommended)
    • First-Professional's DegreesNot Reported
    • Other Advanced DegreesNot Reported
    • International DegreesTOEFL or IELTS

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition & Fees
    • In-state tuition *Not Reported
    • Out-of-state tuition *Not Reported
    • International student tuitionNot Reported
    • *Typical tuition for this institution for full-time graduate students per academic year
  • Fees
    • Per-academic year feesNot Reported
    • Per-term feesNot Reported
    • One-time feeNot Reported
    • *Typical fees for this institution for full-time graduate students per academic year
  • Financial Support
    • Financial award applicants must submitNot Reported
    • Application deadlines for financial awardsDecember 1
    • Types of financial support availableFellowships, Tuition Waivers, Health Care Benefits

Student Body

  • Gender
    • Total Graduate Students51
    • Female Percentage45%
    • Male Percentage55%
  • Participation
    • Total Graduate Students51
    • Part-time Percentage0%
    • Full-time Percentage100%
  • Ethnicity
    • Hispanic / Latino10%
    • Black / African American5%
    • White / Caucasian80%
    • American Indian / Alaskan Native0%
    • Asian5%
    • Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander0%
    • Two or more races0%
    • Unknown0%


  • Faculty Breakout
    • Total Faculty56
    • Full-time Percentage100%
    • Part-time Percentage0%
    • Female Percentage18%
    • Male Percentage82%


  • Existing Research
    • Focus of faculty researchGenetics and genomics, neurobiology, cancer, plant biology, molecular biology, quantitative biology, bioinformatics
    • Externally sponsored research expenditures last yearNot Reported




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