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Doctor of Philosophy

Our doctorate in biology program emphasizes research in environmental and evolutionary biology, preparing you for the highest levels of scholarship and career opportunities in both academia and in research-related agencies and industries.

Know that earning a PhD in biology is a challenging endeavor—but if you love research and generating new knowledge that advances your field, then earning your doctorate in biology will be an incredibly rewarding journey. Most of our graduates were successful in establishing careers at academic institutions in the U.S. and around the world, and others are in governmental and private organizations like the EPA, the Smithsonian, NOAA. For more detailed information, see our report on the careers of our PhD graduates.

Research & Dissertation

As a part of our program, doctoral students in biology get experience designing and conducting research, analyzing data, giving scientific presentations, writing manuscripts for publication, and teaching in the classroom as well as mentoring undergraduates one-on-one. The Department of Biology secures more than $2 million in new research, instructional and infrastructure funding on average every year, and pursuing a PhD in biology often provides our students with opportunities to help write those grant proposals for funding.

All PhD in biology students are required to complete an original research project and formal dissertation. Our doctoral students are expected to concentrate their dissertation work in an area of active faculty research. You will need to find a prospective graduate advisor from the Department of Biology faculty who will support your application for admission and with whom you will conduct research.

To complete a dissertation for your doctorate in biology, you’ll need to assemble an advisory committee (which will advise you throughout the dissertation process), complete original research and write your dissertation, defend your dissertation to your advisory committee, and submit a manuscript based on your dissertation research to an appropriate peer-reviewed journal.

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Doctorate in Biology Coursework

Students earning a PhD in biology are required to take courses for research and dissertation work, along with at least 9 credit hours in environmental biology and 9 credit hours in evolutionary biology.

See the PhD in biology courses >>

Apply to the PhD in Biology Program

Admission to the doctorate in biology program is highly competitive and is dependent on both your credentials and our department’s ability to provide stipend support. If you’re applying to the PhD in biology program and don’t have a master’s in biology, you will be expected to have substantial research experience.

Apply to the PhD in biology program >>