What Are the Application Prerequisites for
the Ph.D. Program?
Applicants to both the master's and doctoral programs must have
completed an undergraduate major in one of the biological sciences
or a related discipline. One semester of either genetics, molecular
biology, or biochemistry is required, and a semester of each is
highly recommended. In addition, applicants must have completed one
year each of inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, mathematics
through introductory calculus, and preferably one or more courses
in an area of biology in which the student hopes ultimately to
specialize. While all prerequisite courses should have been
completed prior to commencing graduate studies, the department may
allow a student to make up limited deficiencies during the first
year of study. Foreign-born applicants who have not earned a U.S.
degree will also be required to present evidence of proficiency in
English such as satisfactory scores on the TOEFL test.
Applicants to the Doctor of Philosophy program must present:
- Official transcripts of all undergraduate (and any graduate)
- Evidence of successful completion of the baccalaureate degree,
having achieved an overall cumulative index of B +, as well as a B
or better average in Biology and the cognate sciences (including
Chemistry and Physics)
- Evidence of an overall cumulative index of B + or better in
graduate work, if applicable
- Satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination, general
(Official score reports must be submitted.); the subject test may
be either (a) Biology or (b) Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular
- Three satisfactory letters of reference from science faculty in
the applicant's most recent program of study
- A one-page essay describing the candidate's interests, career
goals, and special aptitudes
Applicants to the Master of Science program must present:
- Official transcripts reflecting all undergraduate (and any
- Evidence of successful completion of the baccalaureate degree,
having achieved an overall cumulative index of B. as well as a B or
better average in Biology and the cognate sciences
- Two letters of recommendation
What Are the Degree Requirements for
Doctor of Philosophy
- Academic Curriculum: Students in the Ph.D. program complete a
minimum of 60 credits beyond the B.S. degree or 32 credits beyond
the M.S. degree. The core curriculum consists of BIO 207
(Biomolecules and Cell Structure), BIO 208 (Molecular Genetics),
BIO 211 (Subcellular Structure and Biochemistry), BIO 212 (Growth,
Movement, and Regulation), BIO 215 (Developmental and Systems
Biology), and research rotations through at least three research
laboratories. In each rotation students are introduced to the
specific techniques and research approaches of individual faculty
- Qualifying Examination: A qualifying examination is
administered at the end of the first semester of the second year of
study. This examination is a test of the ability of the student to
organize information learned in several disciplines.
- Upper-Level Courses: Further training consists of a series of
upper-level specialized courses, research courses leading to the
development of a doctoral dissertation, and advanced seminars in
which specific research questions are examined through use of
current experimental literature.
- Comprehensive Examination: A written comprehensive examination,
which covers the student's area of concentration and other subjects
approved by the doctoral examination committee, is taken after the
student has completed all required courses and submitted an
approved research proposal (normally in the third year of study).
Questions may be derived from, but are definitely not limited to,
specific courses or seminars.
- Research and Dissertation: All doctoral students are required
to complete a minimum of six credits of Doctoral Research (BIO 950)
and to submit a dissertation. Upon recommendation of the student's
committee, Special Research (BIO 352-353) may be taken as a
preparation for dissertation research. Each semester of Special
Research requires a written report. The dissertation should embody
the results of significant original research and be worthy of
publication in a recognized scientific journal. Doctoral candidates
must defend the dissertation in a final oral examination before a
committee of the faculty
Seminars. Attendance at Biological Sciences Department Seminars
(BIO 599) is required for credit during a total of three semesters.
Doctoral students are asked to present the results of their
research at these seminars, for which one credit is granted each
semester. In subsequent semesters, attendance for no credit is
- Research Tool: Candidates must demonstrate proficiency in a
foreign language appropriate to their doctoral research. This
requirement can be satisfied by presentation of evidence of a
passing grade in a second year, college-level course, by
satisfactory scores on the Education Testing Service (ETS) exam in
the appropriate language, or by successful completion of two
semesters of the non-credit French or German reading courses
offered by the Department of Modern Foreign Languages. Students
must also demonstrate proficiency in appropriate computer languages
by successful completion of a departmental examination or MTH 165;
- Residence: Students must successfully complete two consecutive
academic semesters of full-time study, that is, Fall and Spring,
including attendance at seminars.
- Time Limit: Students must complete all requirements for the
degree within seven years from the date of matriculation. Degree
credit may be denied for courses more than seven years old.
- Transfer Credit: Students may seek admission to the Ph.D.
program after having successfully completed some graduate work at
another accredited institution. Students may request transfer of
credit for this work, provided that it has not been offered in
fulfillment of another graduate degree.
Master of Science
- Courses: The M.S. program requires a minimum of 33 credit hours
of course work, including BIO 207 (Biomolecules and Cell
Structure), BIO 208 (Molecular Genetics), BIO 211 (Subcellular
Structure and Biochemistry), BIO 212 (Growth, Movement, and
Regulation), and BIO 215 (Developmental and Systems Biology).
Students may register for upper-level courses in accordance with
their career goals and upon the recommendation of the advisory
- Research: Master's degree students are strongly advised to take
Special Research (BIO '52-353). Those demonstrating a particular
aptitude for research and all students intending to continue for
the Ph.D. are strongly encouraged to select the thesis option which
requires six credits of BIO 900 (Master's Research) and the
submission of a research thesis as part of their program.
Seminars. Attendance at the Biological Sciences Department
Seminars (BIO 599) for credit during three semesters is required of
all graduate students; this is a one-credit pass/fail course. In
subsequent semesters, attendance for no credit is required.
- Language: While there is no specific language requirement for
the master's degree, the department strongly recommends that
students who intend to continue their studies for a doctoral degree
take the E.T.S. Foreign Language examination or register for a
non-credit reading course in French (FRE 0101; 0102) or German (GER
0101; 0102). Computer literacy is also considered to satisfy
language requirements in doctoral programs.
- Comprehensive Examination: All students must pass a written
comprehensive examination covering current theory, application, and
research in areas appropriate to their training and interests.
Questions may be derived from but are not limited to specific
courses or seminars.
Residence. The student must successfully complete 12 semester
hours of credit in two consecutive semesters.
- Time Limit: All academic requirements must be completed within
Are There Fellowship and Graduate
University Doctoral Fellowships and Doctoral Fellowships are
available to qualified students matriculated in the Ph.D. program.
University Doctoral Fellowships require no service and provide
remission of tuition for 30 graduate credits and fees, plus a
stipend. Doctoral Fellowships, providing tuition remission for 24
credits and a stipend, require 8-12 hours per week of service to
the Department of Biological Sciences. Both awards include a
dependency allowance of $500 per dependent per year. Women doctoral
students are eligible for prestigious Clare Boothe Luce
Fellowships, awarded on the basis of academic merit to women who
expect to pursue university careers.
Students enrolled in the Master of Science program may be
eligible for Graduate Assistantships, which provide tuition
remission for up to 12 credits per semester and a stipend; the
recipient is required to provide 8-12 hours per week of service to
the department. Applicants must submit official score reports from
the *Graduate Record Examinations (general and subject).
*IMPORTANT GRE INFORMATION
If you need your GRE score reports before November 2011, take the
current GRE General Test before August 1, 2011. Therefore, if
you are applying for Spring 2012 Semester you will need to take the
GRE before August 1, 2011.
How Do I Apply?
Click here for information on
graduate applications and instructions.