Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences
Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences degree is a Ph.D. program offered by the School of Medicine at Nazarbayev University. Our four years Ph.D. program in Biomedical Sciences has been designed to generate a new generation of researchers, who will shape research in Kazakhstan and on the international level. It addresses highly motivated students, who want to be part of a research community working on finding causes and treatments for a variety of different diseases. Our School has strong ties to the hospitals around Nur-Sultan and is therefore in an ideal position as a link between bench and bedside. Our researchers are working on various topics among them cancer, and inflammatory and infectious diseases.

The program provides broad training in topics necessary for good research as well as a focus on one specific area you are interested in. This program will prepare you for a career in academia as well as in an industrial setting.

General information

Campus: Astana, Kazakhstan, NUSOM building

Language: English

Delivery mode: Full-time, on-campus

Duration: 4 years

Total ECTS credit: 240

The Ph.D. degree at Nazarbayev University is a four-year full-time lab-based program according to international standards. It is offered within the School of Medicine and is open to Master's students of different Life Sciences (such as Biology, Molecular Medicine, Biomedical Sciences, etc.) as well as MD students having completed a graduate program. The School of Medicine is in a unique position to offer this program as it has laboratory facilities as well as close links to the clinics in Nur-Sultan. This program aims to bridge the gap between basic science and medicine.

A student graduating from the International Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Sciences at the School of Medicine at Nazarbayev University will be trained to independently conduct scientific research in the field of biomedical sciences in an academic or industrial environment. Biomedical scientists may use their knowledge of biomedical research to:

  • Be part of a multidisciplinary team of scientists to solve problems of different illnesses
  • Direct a research lab and conduct cutting-edge research
  • Translate discoveries and inventions from fundamental level to application in an industrial setting
  • Manage and coordinate large scientific projects (national and international)
  • Teach at national and international universities
  • Work in government advising policymakers about scientific matters related to health and disease development

The core element of the program is a biomedical Ph.D. thesis. In addition, Ph.D. students are offered a variety of key competence seminars (see the section CURRICULUM for more information). Each Ph.D. project will be supervised by one faculty member with the project lying in his/her area of research. A second co-supervisor will be allocated to each Ph.D. student.

The Ph.D. program will teach you important aspects of research such as grant writing, writing papers for publication, giving presentations on your research, and getting ethical approval.

Assessment of your progress will be done via annual reviews and progress reports as well as presentations of the work at NUSOM and conferences worldwide. Towards the end of your fourth year, you will concentrate on the writing of your Ph.D. thesis, which together with a thesis defense at the end of the fourth year will comprise your final grade.

After having graduated from our program you will be able to choose from a variety of different pathways. Our main objective will be to teach you to become an independent scientist enabling you to work as a postdoc in national and international laboratories gaining experience to ultimately set up your own research group anywhere in the world.

This is, however, not the only path you can take. Scientists with a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences are also sought after by centers of translational medicine as well as pharmacological and biomedical companies. You can also go into the health services working in and managing diagnostic laboratories. You can go into academia and become a university professor while doing research at the same time.

Or you can completely change track, become an employee of the government forging future research in Kazakhstan or join the editorial board of a scientific journal. There are many of possibilities- it is up to you to choose, which path you will follow.

Graduates of our program can also enter the biomedical science industry as experts working in scientific teams discovering advanced treatments, cures, and research advancements that enhance medical professionals’ approach to improved patient care and disease management.

Our graduates leave the university prepared to use their skills in the global medical community and locally in Kazakhstan:

  • Research – Work in international laboratories and translational research centers studying molecular and genetic biomedical studies.
  • Health Service – Manage diagnostic laboratories, and research units in hospitals, or work as a scientist developing biomedical innovations.
  • Education – Teach and research at universities or collaborate with scientific journals as a writer or editor of scholarly journals.

Possible future employers are:

  • Universities and Research Institutes around the world
  • Pharmaceutical and Biomedical industry (Pfizer, Merck, Sanofi, Roche, etc.)
  • Translational centres
  • Government
  • Diagnostic laboratories
  • Scientific journals
  • World Health Organization (WHO)

How to apply

Before applying it is good to inform yourself about research done at NUSOM and to contact NUSOM Faculty are working on your areas of interest.

STEP 1. Create your personal account

Register on portal to create a Personal Account. Read the instructions about the application procedure given in your Personal account.

STEP 2. Complete your Application Form and attach the required documents

Fill out the application form and attach the required documents:

  1. Scanned copy of a National ID card or passport;
  2. Scanned copy of secondary school or higher education institution certificate (attestat/diploma) with final academic performance or certificate from the school (spravka) according to the sample in the personal account;
  3. Project proposal in English;
  4. Valid copies of certificates. The results of standardized tests must be sent directly to the University through test administrators;
  5. Two reference letters;
  6. CV.

STEP 3. Pay an application fee

The application fee is paid online via your personal account with a bank card.

The amount to pay is 5 000 tenge. All application fees are non-refundable.

Step 4. Finish the registration process

Finish the registration process by pressing the “Submit application” button. After submission applicants can’t change their applications.

Step 5. Upload IELTS/TOEFL certificates

Upload IELTS/TOEFL certificates in your personal account in the section "Upload IELTS/TOEFL" and fill up the required information about the certificate.

Further steps

Check your e-mail for notifications from the NU Admissions Department and your personal account to learn about your application status.

If you experience any difficulties with the registration or online application, please contact Refer to your IIN and/or Applicant ID while sending us your requests.

Entry requirements

1. An undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s degree or equivalent);

2. Master’s degree in a relevant discipline, or a terminal medical degree (MD or equivalent). During the application period final year students may submit official current transcript for consideration;

3. A Minimum CGPA of 3.00 out of 4.00 CGPA in applicant’s Master’s (or equivalent) degree;

4. English proficiency:

1) Overall IELTS test score of 6.5 (with sub-scores no less than 6.0) or the equivalent TOEFL (except Home Edition) score as posted on the ETS website;

2) Candidates can be exempted from submitting the language proficiency test report if:

– one of their earlier academic degrees was earned in a country with English as the language of official communication, academic instruction and daily life;

– an undergraduate and/or graduate degree was earned in a program which was officially taught in English.

5. Relevant research interest and knowledge of research subject as demonstrated in a written Project proposal.

List of documents to be submitted by the applicants

1. Complete Application form;

2. National ID (for the citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan) and passport (for international applicants);

3.Official document confirming name change (if applicable);

4. Degree diplomas (Bachelor’s and Master’s or equivalents) with transcripts;

During the application period final year students may upload an official current transcript for consideration;

5. An official electronic IELTS/TOEFL (except Home Edition) certificate (valid at the time of document submission) sent to the University through IELTS/TOEFL VERIFICATION SERVICES. Code for IELTS: Nazarbayev University. Code for TOEFL: 6762;

6. Document confirming English as the language of instruction (only for candidates who earned their degree in a program that was taught in English and request an exemption from submitting IELTS or TOEFL). A candidate must indicate Nazarbayev University as a recipient when registering for the test. In case the candidate passed the test earlier, he/she can contact the test center and indicate Nazarbayev University as a recipient. Candidates can provide an official electronic score report of valid Academic IELTS or TOEFL IBT certificates from the Test Administrator and its scanned copy;

7. Project proposal (not more than 500 words);

8. Curriculum vitae;

9. Evidence of any professional and/or voluntary experiences that develop essential skills related to laboratory work;

10. Two confidential reference letters in English (or with notarized English translation) written within the last 12 months (to be provided by referees electronically or in hard copy);

11. 075/у medical certificate (for Kazakhstani candidates) or a similar medical certificate with indication of general health (for international candidates);

12. Document stating the presence or absence of a criminal record;

13. List of the applicant’s preferred three choices of PhD projects (optional);

Important dates

Important dates for those who are applying for the 2023-2024 academic year

Application periods for Ph.D. program:

  • for International applicants: December 6, 2022 – February 28, 2023 inclusive
  • for the citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan: December 6, 2022 – April 18, 2023 inclusive

The final deadline for submission of IELTS/TOEFL, GRE/GMAT certificates:

  • for International applicants: March 15, 2023
  • for the citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan: May 3, 2023

The start of orientation week (for newly enrolled students): August 2023

First day of classes: August 2023

Status assigned to the candidate

All registered candidates can check the status of their application in the Personal account. Description of the status below is presented in the order of assignment to the candidate in the Personal account.

Application in processing. This is interim status, which means that the application is being processed. Admissions Committee will evaluate the application and inform the candidate on further steps/stages. Notification on final results will be sent to your email address.

Does not meet entry requirements. The status is assigned to the candidates who do not meet the minimum entry requirements. It is given after checking the application forms and the documents by the Admissions Department.

Disqualified. The status is assigned to candidates who are disqualified for gross violations of the conditions of the competition. For example, provided deliberately false information.

Rejected by Admissions Committee. At one of the competition stages, the Admissions Committee decided to reject the candidate’s application.

Transfer to another program. At the stage of an application screening the Admissions Committee has decided to recommend the candidate for consideration by the Admissions Committee of another program within the same School.

Pending. Candidate’s application is pending

Waiting list. The Admissions Committee has finished reviewing the candidate’s application and made a decision to put you on a waiting list. Such candidates should expect notification from the University, as there is a possibility that if other candidates reject to study, they may be sent an invitation letter to study.

Recommended for admission to NUZYP. The Admissions Committee has decided to recommend the candidate for the NUZYP program. “Zero year of Master’s programs” (NUZYP) is a two-semester full-time program for candidates, who do not meet the language requirements for direct admission to Master’s programs, with intensive language, academic and research preparation for Master’s programs.

Recommended for admission to program. Admissions Committee has decided to recommend candidate for the program without going through the NUZYP.

Recommended for conditional admission. The Admissions Committee has decided to recommend a candidate for the conditional admission with a requirement to fulfill the condition by the deadline specified in the notification.

Withdrawn. Candidate decided to withdraw from the competition.

Accepted Program admission offer. The status is assigned to candidates who received offer letter, signed Enrollment confirmation form and fulfilled all the сonditions of the University indicated in the offer letter.

Accepted NUZYP admission offer. The status is assigned to candidates who received offer letter to NUZYP program, signed Enrollment confirmation form and fulfilled all the сonditions of the University indicated in the offer letter.

Refused admission offer. The candidate was recommended for admission, but refused to study.

Refused in favor of another NU program. The status is applicable for those candidates, who applied for several graduate programs at NU. The status is assigned when the candidate chooses another program.

Deferred. The status is assigned to candidates who were accepted for the program, but decided to postpone their studies until the next year.

Did not submit the documents/Refused. The status assigned to candidates who did not provide originals of the documents by the stated deadline, which means that the candidate refuses to study at University.

Did not come to Orientation week/Refused. The status is assigned to candidates who accepted the offer letter, provided hard copies of documents, but did not participate in Orientation week. The vacant place, if available, can be offered to the candidates in the Waiting list.

Enrolled to program. The status is assigned to candidates who enrolled to the main program by the Decision of the Provost. Candidate officially became a student.

Enrolled to NUZYP. The status is assigned to candidates who enrolled to the NUZYP program by the Decision of the Provost. Candidate officially became a student.


The Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences is a lab-based program with most of your time spent on research. In the first 2 years, you will have accompanying core courses and electives (see schedule below). Additionally, you will be attending our NUSOM seminar series throughout the 4 years of the program.


  • Biosafety, Animal welfare & Ethics
  • Biomedical Science Data Analysis & Design of experimentation
  • Molecular Basis of Health and Disease
  • NUSOM seminar
  • Elective


  • Advanced Biomedical Science Data Analysis & Design of experimentation
  • Writing for Biomedical Science
  • Publication analysis
  • NUSOM seminar

YEAR 3 and 4

  • NUSOM seminar


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