iBio Graduate Program

Image of Department of Biology graduate students studying.

Doctor of Philosophy in Integrated Biology

The department expects new Ph.D. candidates to do research in three laboratories on a rotating basis during their first semester. Students consult with their temporary advisors and with prospective faculty research advisors before identifying their preferences for rotations. Rotations are scheduled through a matching process.

During the first year, students are required to enroll in the department's COSMOS (Concepts, Models and Systems in Biology) seminar. In the fall, this consists of a weekly research seminar series given by fellow students. In the spring, COSMOS consists of a seminar course in which a broad research topic is discussed at many different levels of analysis, model and non-model systems, and techniques. During subsequent years, students are required to enroll in other seminar courses that have a significant writing component as well as in advanced lecture courses, while pursuing doctoral research in their chosen thesis lab. The Ph.D. program in Integrated Biology requires a total of 72 semester hours (S.H.) of coursework and research credits.

At the end of the first year, students take a Qualifying Exam consisting of several essay questions covering hot topics in the four major research foci of the Department of Biology: Cell and Developmental Biology, Evolution and Ecology, Genetics, and Neurobiology. During the spring semester of the second year, students assemble a Thesis Committee and prepare a grant application-style document that serves as a prospectus of their planned thesis research. They are aided in this by the Writing in the Natural Sciences course, which provides feedback and instruction on effective scientific writing skills. Students submit this document to, and defend it orally in front of, their thesis committee; together, this comprises the Comprehensive Exam. Once they complete the course work and proficiency requirements and pass the Comprehensive Exam, students advance to full candidacy for the Ph.D. Students also must demonstrate teaching skills by assisting in instruction as teaching assistants for at least two semesters.

The program culminates in the student’s preparation of a dissertation based on original, independent research. Once the Thesis Committee approves of both this written dissertation and the student’s oral defense of it, the Ph.D. degree will be awarded. 

Master of Science in Integrated Biology

The M.S. in Integrated Biology with thesis requires 30 semester hours (S.H.) of graduate credit and a thesis based on original research. No more than 9 S.H. earned in research can be applied toward the degree. The remaining semester hours are made up of courses selected in consultation with the student's advisory committee and are tailored to the student's background and career goals. Students receive academic credit for courses they are required to take, except credit awarded for courses necessary to make up undergraduate deficiencies, which does not count toward the 30 S.H. requirement.

After the thesis is accepted by the supervisor and advisory committee, the candidate must pass an oral defense of the research described in the thesis and on related subjects.