Doctor of Philosophy in Biology

Major: BIOL
Degree Awarded: Ph.D.
Unit: GA
Program Webpage:

Program Information

A broad range of courses are taught in most biological disciplines, although the department is focused in two major directions. The Divisions of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCD) and Evolution, Ecology and Behavioral Biology (EEB) incorporate current areas of special interest in environmental microbiology, population and microbial genetics, developmental biology, plant and animal physiology, metabolism, phycology, plant and animal ecology, behavioral ecology, invertebrate zoology, and community and ecosystem ecology of large rivers, small streams, and wetlands.

Students seeking the Ph.D. Degree in Biology traditionally have a master’s degree or its equivalent; however, students may enter the program with only the baccalaureate degree. Generally, the first year or two is spent in course work, research is begun by the second year, and the thesis/dissertation completed in the final year.

Program Admission Procedure

The following requirements must be met in order to be admitted to the Ph.D. program in the Department of Biology:

  1. The applicant must have a baccalaureate degree with a major in biology or an acceptable sub-discipline of biology.
  2. The applicant must meet the following admissions standards:
    • an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher;
    • While there is no minimum requirement for GRE scores, competitive students usually have an average score around the 50th percentile or better. Composite MCAT or DAT exam scores are acceptable alternatives
    • for foreign students, a TOEFL score of 83 on the internet-based exam or at least 6.5 on the IELTS exam. Students holding a baccalaureate or advanced degree from an accredited institution in the United States are exempt from this requirement.
  3. All applicants must review the research specialties of the departmental faculty to ensure that an area compatible with the student's interest is available. Applicants for the Ph.D. program must communicate with a member of the biology faculty prior to admission and receive agreement that the faculty member will serve as the major professor. No formal admission to the program can occur without the preliminary acceptance of a mentor. Faculty contact information is available at

Your application ( will be complete when we have all of the following (final action on an application cannot be taken until all items have been received):

  1. a completed application form and application fee;
  2. one official transcript of all previous undergraduate and graduate coursework;
  3. official GRE, MCAT or DAT scores;
  4. two or more letters of recommendation from persons familiar with your academic performance; and
  5. for foreign students, official TOEFL or IELTS scores.

Send to the Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Biology:

  1. a completed Departmental Application Form), found at (this is an electronic form sent when completed).

Deadline for completed applications: July 15 for Fall admission and December 1 for Spring admission. For financial support consideration, applications should be completed by January 15 for Fall admission.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA) are awarded by the Graduate Committee of the Department of Biology to meet the instructional needs of the Department and enhance and broaden the educational experience of doctoral students. All newly admitted students are automatically considered for this type of annual support, which includes a monthly stipend, tuition remission, and health insurance.

Another source of financial support may be available from individual faculty members who have intramural or extramural research funding that provides support for graduate students as a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA). The individual faculty member holding this support selects students to fill these positions.

A small number of the most highly qualified accepted applicants will be nominated by the Department for University Fellowship awards, which carry a monthly stipend, tuition remission, and health insurance benefits. These students must meet qualifications set by the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies.


Requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Biology

Foundations in Biology



One course to be selected by the student’s committee from each category:
1. Biostatistics
2. Evolutionary Biology (courses that cover the evolutionary history
and/or phylogenetic relationships of molecules or organisms)
Two courses to be selected from within an Area of Focus:
A. Ecology, Evolution, and Behavioral (EEB) Biology Focus Area:
1. Population and Community Ecology
2. Ecosystem Ecology or Behavior

B. Molecular, Cellular and Developmental (MCD) Biology Focus Area:
1. Genetics/Cellular (courses that discuss the biochemistry and
molecular genetics of life or describe the cell as the structural and
functional unit of life)
2. Physiology (courses that discuss life processes at the level of the
Advanced Biology Electives
Dissertation Research


Ronald D. Fell

Chair and Professor

Ronald M. Atlas


Gary A. Cobbs


Lee A. Dugatkin


Perri K. Eason


Paul W. Ewald


Michael H. Perlin


Joseph M. Steffen


James E. Alexander

Associate Professor

Margaret M. Carreiro

Associate Professor

Cynthia Corbitt

Associate Professor

Sarah Emery

Associate Professor

Jennifer Mansfield-Jones

Associate Professor

Susanna K. Remold

Associate Professor

Mark Running

Associate Professor

David J. Schultz

Associate Professor

Micah Worley

Associate Professor

Stephen Yanoviak

Associate Professor

Chris Frost
Assistant Professor

Linda Fuselier
Assistant Professor

Paul Himes
Assistant Professor

Michael Menze
Assistant Professor

Deborah Yoder-Himes
Assistant Professor