Degree Requirements

Courses and requirements for Ph.D. students Graduate students are actively involved in designing courses of study tailored to their particular research interests. A typical Ph.D. student spends a portion of his or her first year of study in formal coursework and a portion exploring research options. Students in laboratory-based areas of biology usually rotate through several laboratories in their first year to gain experience and information useful in choosing a thesis advisor. Many graduate students in the areas of ecology and evolution focus on potential thesis advisors before coming to the University and can initiate their thesis research without rotations. A graduate student's course of study and qualifying exam format are arranged in consultation with an individual supervisory committee, including the thesis advisor and four other faculty members. The qualifying exam is normally taken at the end of the second year.

As part of the requirements for a degree, all Ph.D. students must complete four one-semester graduate-level courses, or the equivalent. These may be a combination of seminar and lecture-style courses. Students who enter through one of the interdepartmental programs with first year curricula (e.g. Biological Chemistry, Molecular Biology, or Neuroscience), are required to take additional graduate level courses or seminars equivalent to 1.5 semester courses. In one course for incoming students, faculty describe major advances in their own research areas as well as case histories illustrating the process of developing a research project. Students are also kept abreast of current research in a seminar series run by graduate students and in several journal clubs.

Each Ph.D. student must work at least one semester as a teaching assistant. Additional teaching may be done as a source of financial support and as training for an academic career.

Courses and requirements for Master's Degree students Students working toward a Master of Science degree in Biology must complete at least 20 hours of graduate level classes, which include at least 12 hours of course work in the School of Biological Sciences. A total of at least 30 semester hours in graduate classes and thesis research is required. Course descriptions can be found in the University's General Catalog.

Non-traditional students are encouraged to apply. The School can offer such students considerable flexibility in scheduling course work, research, and teaching requirements.