PhD in Biology

PhD candidate standing in tea field

The PhD program in Biology is a research-intensive program that also has a strong focus on teaching, designed to produce top scientists and educators with a broad base of knowledge to tackle the most important biological problems of today. This is accomplished through research training, graduate-level courses, seminars, and teaching experience. Entering students are assigned an advisory committee of three faculty members who work with the student to plan a suitable program based on the student's experience and interests.

PhD students in Biology receive full tuition support for six years, a competitive stipend, health coverage, and receive extensive training in pedagogy, outreach, and communication that prepares them for careers in academia, biotechnology, education, and policy. Students are required to serve as teaching assistants for at least two semesters. Most students complete the requirement for teaching experience in the first year by assisting in the introductory undergraduate biology courses for two semesters.

During the first year, students become familiar with research opportunities in the department by doing short research rotations with various faculty members. This experience in expected to lead to the selection of a research focus for the PhD thesis, and it also sets the stage for cross-disciplinary approaches to the thesis topic that is pursued.

First- and second-year students usually take some graduate courses that are selected in consultation with the advisory committee, in addition to one required course: either Biology 243: Topics in Molecular and Cell Biology; Biology 244: Topics in Evolutionary Ecology; or Biology 246: Topics in Physiology and Animal Behavior.

The department faculty are educators as well as researchers, and the graduate students benefit from this expertise. Graduate students serving as teaching assistants have the opportunity to take a course on teaching and pedagogy to improve their skills, or to become involved with upper level courses in their area of expertise. In addition, we offer a one-month summer program for PhD students interested in contributing to course design and honing their teaching skills via GIFT, the Graduate Institute For Teaching .

PhD student working in lab

Research Concentrations

Browse the six concentration areas below for recommended programs of study and relevant courses:

  • Biology Education Research
  • Ecology, Behavior and Evolution
  • Global Change Biology
  • Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Physiology, Neurobiology and Animal Behavior

Graduate credit for a course requires a grade of B- (B minus) or better. A list of biology department undergraduate and graduate courses can be found by selecting the Courses button from the top bar.

Throughout the year, graduate students benefit from a variety of seminars on current research that are presented by faculty, fellow graduate students, and invited speakers.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Biology

The PhD in Biology is a research degree requiring graduate-level coursework, completion of a dissertation, and two semesters of participation in teaching (usually as a teaching fellow in laboratory or discussion sections of lecture courses led by Biology faculty). For most students, obtaining this degree typically involves five or more years of full-time study.

A summary of Biology PhD student expectations by year can be found here . Full details can be found in the Graduate Program Guide .

The Biology Department guarantees support for five years for all PhD students, contingent on satisfactory performance in the program.

How to Apply    Frequently Asked Questions

Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate academic mastery in one of three areas of Biology: Ecology, Evolution, Behavior & Marine Biology; Neurobiology; or Cellular & Molecular Biology.

2. Attain research expertise , including grant writing experience, and complete original research that advances a specific field of study within one of three broad subject areas represented in the department: Ecology, Behavior, Evolution & Marine Biology; Neurobiology; or Cellular & Molecular Biology.

3. Attain teaching experience and expertise in one of three broad areas of Biology: Ecology, Behavior, Evolution & Marine Biology; Neurobiology; or Cellular & Molecular Biology.

4. Attain the skills and qualifications needed for employment in an academic, government, or private sector position related to the life sciences.

Coursework Requirements

Students must complete 64 credits with a minimum grade point average of 3.0; at least 32 of these credits must be accrued from lecture, laboratory, or seminar courses. Students with prior graduate work may be able to transfer course credits.  See the  Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) Transfer of Credits policy  for more details. 

  • 2 semesters of Progress in Research Seminars (2 credits each):

Cell & Molecular Biology:  BI 583 & BI 584 (CM section)

Ecology, Behavior, Evolution & Marine Biology:  BI 579 & BI 580

Neurobiology:   BI 583 & BI 584 (NEURO section)

  • 1 semester grant-writing course (2 credits):

Cell & Molecular Biology:  BI 581

Ecology, Behavior, Evolution & Marine Biology: BI 671

Neurobiology: BI 581

  • 1 semester pedagogy course (1 credit): All Biology PhD students take  BI 697
  • 1 quantitative course (3–4 credits): from a list of recommended courses .
  • Additional courses vary by specific track below:

Cell & Molecular Biology

1. GRS BI 791/GRS BI 792 Graduate Rotation Credits (2 credits each/4 credits total)

2. GRS BI 753 Advanced Molecular Biology  (4 credits)

3. GRS MB 721 Graduate Biochemistry  (4 credits)

4. GRS BI 735 Advanced Cell Biology  (4 credits)

5. Two electives (8 credits, 500-level and above), see the Graduate Program Guide for recommendations

6. Research credits  (remaining credits)

Ecology, Behavior, Evolution & Marine Biology

1. Six electives  (24 credits, 500-level and above), see the Graduate Program Guide for recommendations

2. Research credits  (remaining credits)

Ecology, Behavior, Evolution & Marine Biology PhD candidate coursework is highly variable. Students, in consultation with advisors, develop a plan of coursework and research. Students are required to take a minimum of 32 credits of coursework. The remainder of the credits should be research.

Neurobiology

2. GRS BI 755 Cellular and Systems Neuroscience  (4 credits)

3. GRS BI 741 Neural Systems: Functional Circuit Analysis  (4 credits)

4. Four electives  (16 credits, 500-level and above), see the Graduate Program Guide for recommendations

5. Research credits  (remaining credits)

Teaching Requirement

The department requires a minimum of two semesters of teaching as part of the Doctor of Philosophy program. During the first semester of teaching, students are required to enroll in our first-year seminar course, GRS BI 697 A Bridge to Knowledge . The course provides guidance and training on pedagogy and other aspects of graduate school.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination must be completed no later than six semesters after matriculation. In most graduate curricula in the department, this consists of a research proposal—often in the form of a grant application—which the student submits to their committee and subsequently defends in an oral presentation. In the  Cell & Molecular Biology and Ecology, Behavior, Evolution & Marine Biology curricula , this is preceded by a comprehensive written examination testing the student’s general background from coursework.

Dissertation & Final Oral Examination

Candidates shall demonstrate their abilities for independent study in a dissertation representing original research or creative scholarship. A prospectus for the dissertation must be completed and approved by the readers, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Biology Department Chair. Candidates must undergo a final oral examination in which they defend their dissertation as a valuable contribution to knowledge in their field and demonstrate a mastery of their field of specialization in relation to their dissertation. All portions of the dissertation and final oral examination must be completed as outlined in the  GRS General Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree . The results of the dissertation must be presented at a department colloquium.

Graduation Timeline

Forms and additional information about PhD graduation can be found on the GRS website .

9 – 12 months before proposed graduation date

  • Dissertation Prospectus & approval form due to Graduate Program Specialist for departmental review and submission to GRS

Semester prior to your intended graduation cycle

  • Intent to Graduate Form completed online

About 2 months before dissertation defense

  • Meet with Graduate Program Specialist, Director of Graduate Studies, and Faculty Advisor to review requirements for defense
  • Arrange for Special Service Appointments if committee members are not BU faculty
  • Send first draft of dissertation to readers

Once defense date is confirmed with committee

  • Reserve room(s) for public seminar and defense

At least three weeks prior to dissertation defense

  • Schedule of Final Oral Exam with Abstract Approval due to GRS
  • Properly formatted draft of dissertation submitted as PDF to [email protected]

At least two weeks prior to dissertation defense

  • Send dissertation to all committee members

At least one week prior to dissertation defense

  • Send program information to Graduate Program Specialist

See the Graduate Program Guide for final dates to submit dissertation to ETD

  • Submit final dissertation to ETD (online submission)
  • Complete electronic signature page and forward confirmation to Graduate Program Specialist along with a copy of your submitted dissertation

MS Degree (En Route to PhD)

Option one: A PhD student who has advanced to candidacy (as demonstrated by passing the PhD qualifying exam), and has completed 32 credits of graduate-level coursework (not including research) may apply to the Graduate School for an MS degree in Biology. This must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies within the Biology Department. The student’s major professor will receive notification of this application process.

Option two: A PhD student who has taken, but has not advanced to candidacy based on the PhD qualifying examination, may still receive an MS degree. This student may receive a Coursework MS degree provided they have completed 32 credits of coursework (not including research credits). Alternatively, this student may receive a Scholarly Paper or Research Thesis MS degree if the written portion of the qualifying examination is adapted to ensure it is of sufficiently high quality for a MS degree, and approved by a majority of the qualifying exam committee and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Interdisciplinary Study Options

Biology PhD students have the option to participate in the Boston University Graduate Program in Urban Biogeoscience and Environmental Health (BU URBAN), the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship Program Understanding the Brain: Neurophotonics (NSF NRT UtB: Neurophotonics), and the Biogeoscience Advanced Graduate Certificate Program . These programs require separate applications in addition to the standard Biology PhD application; those interested in BU URBAN are encouraged pre-apply .

Time Limits

Officially, the PhD must be completed within seven years after the first registration for doctoral study. PhD degrees are conferred in either May, August, or January, as specified on the GRS website . In addition, the PhD candidacy expires after the fifth anniversary of passing the Qualifying Examination. Petitions to extend this deadline are possible at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies, the Department Chair, and the Dean of the Graduate School, and can be obtained from the Office of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

The Biology Department guarantees support for five years for all PhD students, contingent on satisfactory performance in the program. PhD students are encouraged to apply for fellowships and grants at funding agencies. All domestic students should apply for NSF Graduate Research Fellowships in the Fall semester of their first or second year. 

Travel Grants may be available to assist students in their travel to professional scientific meetings; students presenting papers or posters on their research will receive first consideration.

Common Types of Funding:

Dean’s Fellowships: These are non-service fellowships allocated to first-year PhD students that do not have immediate teaching requirements.

Teaching Fellowships: These provide a stipend plus full tuition and fees for up to four full courses per semester plus a 2-credit teaching course. Teaching responsibilities usually require approximately 20 hours per week. Full or partial awards may be given.

Doctoral Research Fellowships: These awards are given to students who assist individual faculty with specific areas of research. These Research Fellowships provide a stipend and full tuition. The supervising faculty member determines the specific duties of the Research Fellow.

In addition to the above funding sources, several competitive Department awards and fellowships are available to graduate students in the Department of Biology.

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The Department of Molecular & Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley offers a Ph.D. program focused on the molecular mechanisms inherent to life. This program integrates research with a modern training curricula, teaching, and career mentorship. Our Department is highly interdisciplinary - comprising the Divisions of Cell Biology, Development & Physiology, Immunology and Molecular Medicine, Neurobiology, Biochemistry, Biophysics & Structural Biology, and Genetics, Genomics, and Development – and this is reflected in our students and training. The program is also highly collaborative with related programs and Institutes on campus, thus allowing students the flexibility to explore all aspects of modern biological research. Please click on the links below to learn more about our areas of research on the main department website or use the menu at the top to navigate to areas of interest within the graduate program.

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Offered By: Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Onsite | Full-Time | 5 – 6 years

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About the PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program

In the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD program, faculty, and students work together to increase knowledge of the biochemical and molecular bases of normal and abnormal cellular processes. Our program trains students to be successful independent scientists and gives them the knowledge, research training, and leadership skills to continue to provide new insights into the biomedical issues that have a profound impact on public health.

Students engage in a rigorous course curriculum and a range of structured and informal activities outside the classroom and lab to build their skills. They will pursue their thesis research in the lab of one of our over forty training faculty across the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Visit our dedicated PhD program website to learn more about the diverse research training opportunities of the program.

PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program Highlights

Our position within the School of Public Health provides a unique setting in which students learn how biochemistry, molecular biology, physical chemistry, cell biology, and genetics can be used to solve significant problems in public health and medicine. Our program offers:

  • Training faculty from across the School of Public Health and the School of Medicine
  • A strong grounding in the science of biomedical and public health research through a core curriculum that includes courses taught by leading experts from the Schools of Public Health and Medicine
  • Training outside the lab and classroom in key skills such as communications and leadership
  • Opportunities to build strong communications skills through a range of speaking venues including journal club, research colloquium, department retreats, and national meetings
  • Access to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Professional Development and Career Office , offering excellent career services and professional development,  including the BMB-required OPTIONS program, a guided process of career exploration for paths from medicine to biotech to academia and beyond for careers paths from medicine to biotech to academia and beyond
  • Opportunities to participate in community service and outreach, with a focus on our East Baltimore neighborhoods, through the Johns Hopkins University community engagement and service-learning center, SOURCE

Training faculty across the School of Public Health and the School of Medicine

Schools that students can take courses in: Public Health, Arts & Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering

Two-month rotations in the first year prior to selecting thesis lab

Average number of incoming students in the BMB PhD degree program each year

What Can You Do With a PhD In Biochemistry And Molecular Biology?

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD program prepares students for a range of biomedical and health sciences careers, including in academia, industry, policy, and beyond.

Sample Careers

  • Research Scientist
  • Science Policy Adviser
  • Biotech Executive
  • Senior Scientist
  • Patent Lawyer
  • Science Policy Analyst/Advocate
  • Science Writer/Journalist
  • Biological Sciences Teacher

Topic Areas

The BMB PhD program faculty conduct research to gain new insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal cellular processes, and their relevance as targets for improving health and treating disease. Our training program places particular emphasis on mechanistic approaches to research problems.

Common topic areas within our faculty's diverse research interests include:

  • Biophysics and Structural Biology
  • Cancer Biology
  • Chemical Biology and Proteomics
  • Cell Biology
  • Cellular Stress and Cell Signaling
  • Genetics, Genomics, and Gene Regulation
  • Immunology and Infectious Diseases
  • Translational Research

Curriculum for the PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The BMB PhD offers students a rigorous course curriculum, including a set of common core classes from the Schools of Public Health and Medicine. A rich array of seminar programs and journal clubs are also available to all students.

Browse an overview of the requirements for this PhD program in the JHU  Academic Catalogue  and explore all course offerings in the Bloomberg School  Course Directory .

Courses in core curriculum

Minimum elective credits

Seminars on current research presented by experts from across Johns Hopkins and other biomedical research institutions

Courses available across Johns Hopkins Schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Arts and Sciences

Admissions Requirements

For the general admissions requirements see our How to Apply page. The specific program also requires:

Prior Work Experience

Laboratory research experience (from academia, industry, etc.) is required

Prior Coursework

Strong background in the sciences, particularly in chemistry, biochemistry, or biology

Standardized Test Scores

Standardized test scores (GRE) are optional for this program. The admissions committee will make no assumptions if a standardized test score is omitted from an application, but will require evidence of quantitative/analytical ability through other application components such as academic transcripts and/or supplemental questions.  Applications will be reviewed holistically based on all application components.

Program Faculty Spotlight

Ashani Weeraratna

Ashani T. Weeraratna

Ashi Weeraratna, PhD, studies how cancer cells move to distant sites and how changes in the normal cells around a tumor contribute to their movement, especially as we age.

biology phd us

Michael J. Matunis

Michael Matunis, PhD, studies how protein modification by SUMO—the small ubiquitin-related modifier—drives changes in key cellular pathways from stress response to DNA repair.

Jennifer Kavran

Jennifer M. Kavran

Jennifer Kavran, PhD, MS, MPhil, is a biophysicist who investigates how cells communicate with each other and their environment.

biology phd us

Danfeng Cai

Danfeng Cai, PhD, combines advanced microscopy, genomics, and proteomics to tease out the functions of protein condensates in cells, with a focus on cancer.

Vivien Thomas PhD Scholars

The  Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative (VTSI)  is an endowed fellowship program at Johns Hopkins for PhD students in STEM fields. It provides full tuition, stipend, and benefits while also providing targeted mentoring, networking, community, and professional development opportunities. Students who have attended a historically Black college and university (HBCU) or other minority serving institution (MSI) for undergraduate study are eligible to apply. To be considered for the VTSI, you will need to submit a SOPHAS application, VTSI supplementary materials, and all supporting documents (letters, transcripts, and test scores) by December 1 , 202 3 . VTSI applicants are eligible for an application fee waiver , but the fee waiver must be requested by November 15, 202 3 and prior to submission of the SOPHAS application.

Vivien Thomas

All full-time PhD students receive the following support for all years of the program: full tuition and fees, individual health insurance, University Health Services fee, vision insurance, dental insurance, and a stipend for living expenses for students who remain in good academic standing. PhD students are required to serve as a teaching assistant for at least one term, in either their 2nd or 3rd year.

Need-Based Relocation Grants Students who  are admitted to PhD programs at JHU starting in Fall 2023 or beyond can apply to receive a $1500 need-based grant to offset the costs of relocating to be able to attend JHU.   These grants provide funding to a portion of incoming students who, without this money, may otherwise not be able to afford to relocate to JHU for their PhD program. This is not a merit-based grant. Applications will be evaluated solely based on financial need.  View more information about the need-based relocation grants for PhD students .

Questions about the program? We're happy to help.

Mike Matunis, PhD PhD Program Director

Roza Selimyan , PhD BMB Executive Director for Academic Affairs and Education Programs

Erika Vaitekunas Administrative Specialist

[email protected]

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Biology, PhD

The Biology Graduate Program represents many areas of biology, and interactions with a diverse group of colleagues provide opportunities to broaden every student’s thinking and make connections between different fields and scientific approaches. Areas of research include microbiology, cell biology, development, physiology, neuroscience, animal behavior, plant biology, genetics, computational biology, evolution, ecology and biodiversity. 

Each entering graduate student has the freedom to pursue topics ranging from the behavior of molecules to that of cells, organisms, genomes, and ecosystems. We encourage students to get broad exposure through lab rotations with any faculty member in the Biology Graduate Group. As students focus on more specific research interests, they tailor their graduate education accordingly, choosing courses from different departments and schools at Penn as appropriate.

Students complete most of their course work and lab rotations in the first year and then start their thesis research in the second year while completing their teaching requirement and preparing for their candidacy exams.  Students are then fully focused on thesis research by the end of the second year.  Students still have the option of taking additional courses in advanced years in order to enhance their graduate research.

For more information: http://www.bio.upenn.edu/graduate/

View the University’s Academic Rules for PhD Programs .

Required Courses

The total course units for graduation in this program is 13.5.

See the website for a list of electives:  http://www.bio.upenn.edu/graduate/handbook/academic-topics/course-requirements

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2023 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.

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PhD Program Overview

NYU Biology offers an integrated environment where students pursue cutting edge research with a world class faculty. The department is home to a wealth of scientific expertise, state-of-the art labs and core facilities, the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, and the Center for Developmental Genetics.  We are located in Greenwich Village, the best neighborhood in the world's most influential city. Our students are encouraged, in addition to their academic science training, to take advantage of all that NYC has to offer, including interacting with the legal, entertainment, pharma, world-health, and tech industries, as well as unique Global Opportunities for study at NYU’s Portal Campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.

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Areas of research specialization.

  • Developmental Genetics and Stem Cells

For further insights into the broad range of research currently taking place in the department, view a collection of recent talks by NYU Biology faculty, postdocs, and students.

The PhD Training Program

The full-time Doctor of Philosophy Program in Biology is designed to develop independent research scientists. Students undertake independent research under the guidance of faculty mentors at state-of-the-art laboratories, with sophisticated instrumentation, advanced computer facilities, and extensive library and e-journal holdings. Weekly pre-doctoral colloquia enable students to present their own work to a broad audience, while symposiums and seminars by distinguished visitors, speaking on a variety of topics, add breadth to the educational programs offered by the department. Students enrolled in the PhD program are guaranteed a paid stipend for living expenses. Program details are available in the Biology Graduate Student Handbook .

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Financial & Housing Information

Doctoral students receive financial support and health insurance for the full duration of their graduate career. For further information on financial and other support is available on the Biology Graduate Financial, Insurance & Housing Information page .

The Department of Biology is firmly committed to increasing diversity amongst our graduate students. We are proud to provide an atmosphere that is nurturing and supportive of all students. Visit NYU's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion website to learn more about the University's initiatives to improve diversity and inclusion in the NYU community. Additional resources are available on the Biology Graduate Program Diversity page .

Academic Requirements for Graduation

Successful completion of the PhD in Biology consists of a qualifying exam, completion of required and elective course work, performance of dissertation research, and writing and defense of the PhD dissertation. For further details on the program requirements please refer to p. 49 of NYU’s GSAS Bulletin .

Training Opportunities

Students are encouraged to build their own course curricula and research plans, and will have opportunities for collaborations with other departments and institutes, including the Sackler Institute at the NYU Langone Medical School, the Center for Neural Science, the Center for Soft Matter Research, NYU's Departments of Physics and Chemistry, the Courant Institute for Mathematical Science, and the New York Genome Center.

Teaching Opportunities

Students have opportunities to gain teaching experiences by working as teaching assistants in a wide variety of courses offered by the department. Compensation for teaching is in addition to the normal PhD program stipend. Available positions are posted on the Biology Teaching Opportunities page .

Global Opportunities

biology phd us

Students entering NYU’s Graduate Program in Biology will have the option to participate in opportunities to perform thesis research projects at NYU’s global sites in Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and Shanghai (NYUSH) . NYUAD and NYUSH Global Ph.D. Student Fellows complete their coursework in New York before moving full-time either to Abu Dhabi or Shanghai to pursue the remainder of their doctoral research under the supervision of Abu Dhabi or Shanghai faculty.

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Ph.d. biology.

Our PhD program accepts students possessing Bachelors or Masters degrees who are planning a career in science. The purpose of our PhD program is to prepare highly qualified scientists who have excellent up-to-date training in the fields of biology or bioinformatics, who are actively involved in scientific research, are capable of making significant contributions to their scientific field, possess all the necessary skills for effective oral and written communication with colleagues, and can successfully compete in the job market for postdoctoral and research scientist level positions in academia and science-related industries.

We currently have approximately 100 PhD students in the Biology PhD program of the School of Biological Sciences. Of recent PhD graduates, 70% are currently employed as postdoctoral researchers in academia, 9% as government scientists , 9% as industry scientists , 4% as instructors , and 9% are enrolled in further professional training . The average number of journal publications is 3.9 per student and the average number of presentations at conferences around the world is 4.3 per student .

Areas of concentration:

  • Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior   including population and evolutionary ecology; community ecology; aquatic chemical ecology; ecological genomics; sensory ecology; evolution of development, behavior, and sociality; biological oceanography; environmental microbiology; theoretical ecology.
  • Molecular and Cell Biology   including eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell biology; molecular physiology; molecular biophysics and structural biology; animal, plant, and microbial molecular genetics; human genomics; molecular evolution.

Quick Facts

  • Stipend and tuition waiver offered.
  • Fellowships available.
  • Duration of program depends on research progress. Ph.D. candidates typically defend their thesis at the end of the 5th or during the 6th year.
  • 18 credit hours of coursework.

General Inquiries

  • Chung Kim Academic Program Coordinator Email  | 404.385.4240 | EBB 2009

Ph.D. Program Overview:

  • Stipend: $33,500 per year
  • Year 1 Focus:  Coursework / Lab Rotations / Teach
  • Year 2 Focus:  Coursework / Thesis Research / Qualifying Exams
  • Year 3 Focus:  Thesis Research
  • Year 4 Focus:  Thesis Research
  • Year 5 Focus:  Thesis Research, Writing and Defense

The PhD in Biology is a research-based degree involving deep immersion in a topic within biology with mentoring from an advisor and thesis committee with expertise in the field of study. Coursework is typically completed within the first 2 years (18 credit hours). Students who have previously earned an M.S. degree or taken graduate courses elsewhere can negotiate up to 9 transfer credit hours upon entering our program. Selection of a thesis advisor is made in discussion with our faculty and/or via lab rotations during the first year, and the composition of the thesis committee is established by the student by the end of the first year.

PhD students in the School of Biological Sciences are each supported by a stipend and do not pay tuition, only modest   fees   each semester. Stipend support comes from teaching or research assistantships which complement research training towards the PhD. Whether PhD stipends are earned from research or teaching assistantships after the first year is decided in consultation with a student's thesis advisor and the graduate committee. Our base PhD stipend is $33,500. Several fellowships are available which can supplement the PhD stipend.

Further Funding

Please take some time to review our   funding opportunities and fellowships .

Choosing between the Masters and Ph.D. Program

Our graduate program is primarily focused on the PhD which prepares students for careers in scientific research and employment in academia, industry, or government. We encourage potential applicants to the PhD program to directly contact individual   faculty   members whose research may appeal to them to discuss research interests and future opportunities. Students who are not yet sure of their interest in scientific research or are interested in other kinds of professional development should consider the M.S. degree in   Biology   or  Bioinformatics . Admission decisions are made by our graduate committee (composed of Biology faculty) in consultation with all of the faculty in the School of Biological Sciences.

Georgia Tech provides application fee waivers to advance diversity, recognize outstanding undergraduate achievement, and engage prospective students in recruitment events where Georgia Tech is affiliated. Such fee waivers are currently available only to domestic applicants.

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Ph.D. Program

Current Students

The philosophy of the PhD program, along with the Affiliated Ph.D.  Program with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, is to provide world-class research training in the basic biological sciences to equip a diverse group of trainees for a variety of scientific careers ranging from academia and industry to education, communication, or policy. Core principles of the program are to be student centered and attuned to the goals of the trainee.

The core curriculum focuses on development of core competencies and transferable skills in critical thinking, communication, and leadership. The first year prepares students for the core of the PhD program, the development of intellectual independence and creativity through original thesis research, guided by a thesis advisor and committee. Students have a high degree of flexibility in choice of thesis advisor through the rotation program. Throughout the program, there is strong emphasis on engaged mentoring through regular committee meetings, annual reports and Individual Development Plans.

As a central hub of the thriving San Diego biosciences community, the program maintains strong partnerships with other campus units and programs through joint faculty appointments, organized research units, and research collaborations, enabling a wide range of interdisciplinary opportunities . The mission is to conduct leading edge research in the basic biological sciences. Major areas of emphasis currently include structural biology, cell biology, developmental biology, neurobiology, immunology, microbiology, virology, plant biology, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Research in the School has emphasized studies using model organisms or in vitro mechanistic approaches, with human studies and clinical research concentrated in other departments or in the Health Sciences. Current and future areas of growth include quantitative biology, data science, and the biological consequences of climate change.

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As a doctoral program embedded in a large undergraduate instructional unit, our approach incorporates substantial training in teaching methodology and best practices. Our philosophy remains that teaching and research are interdependent facets of engaged scholarship.

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Ph.d. application process.

We admit students in the fall semester, with the goal of providing a collegial, intimate, and intellectually vibrant learning environment. Your application will be viewed by several professors in our department, including faculty knowledgeable in your area of interest. We use a holistic selection process, valuing your experiences and interests.

Each year we matriculate ten to twelve new candidates to our doctoral program. You can apply to our Ph.D. program through the Duke Graduate School. See the  Graduate School website  for procedures and deadlines.

Application Fee

The Graduate School provides a limited number of application fee waivers to promote a diverse applicant pool. All fee waiver requests are reviewed by the Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Development in the Office of Graduate Student Affairs. Please contact Dean Alan Kendrick ( [email protected] ) for instructions when applying.

In addition, all U.S. applicants from under-represented groups and anyone with a demonstrated financial need are encouraged to contact the Co-Director of Graduate Studies, William Morris ( [email protected] ). The Biology Department will help defray the cost of the application fee.

Application Instructions and Tips

To give your application its best shot, we strongly recommend that you  reach out to potential mentors and advisors prior to submitting your application. Simply send them an e-mail! Clearly indicate which lab(s) you are interested in in your application and statement of purpose. This helps us ensure that your application will get reviewed by  everyone  you might be interested in working with.

For some extra tips on how to write the best possible graduate school application, check out this article by Science Magazine .

Before applying to Biology, please be sure it is the department of the labs you are interested in. For example, if you are interested in Dr. Jane Doe’s lab, but she is in Duke’s Department of Neurobiology, and you apply to Duke Biology, your application will get misdirected. If in doubt, please ask us directly:  [email protected]

We recognize that every application is more than just the sum of quantitative measures like GPAs, and have implemented a holistic review process that takes into account not only your academic credentials, but your profile as a whole. Applicants to the Duke Biology Ph.D. program will be evaluated on the basis of the following information provided in your application:

  • Your Statement of Purpose
  • Your research experience
  • Your letters of recommendation
  • The match of your research interests to the expertise of faculty in the department
  • Your performance in the courses you have taken that prepared you for graduate study

Statement of Purpose

Tell us about your previous research experience, work ethic and perseverance toward goals, your preparedness and motivation for graduate study, your academic plans, including some of the research questions you would like to address in your graduate studies, and future career aspirations. In your statement, it is very important to mention which faculty members you are interested in working with, as common interests are considered.

You are encouraged to include examples of educational, cultural, or other life opportunities or challenges you have experienced, and how these are likely to contribute to your overall success in our graduate program and beyond. 

The Duke Graduate School requires that you submit your undergraduate grade point average (UGPA) with your application. Duke does not have a cut-off point for UGPA when considering applicants. The Biology Graduate Admissions Committee will examine how your academic background, including the courses you have taken previously and your performance in those courses, and not your GPA or the institutions at which you have previously studied, have prepared you for graduate study. Every application gets reviewed in a holistic way in which all parts of the application package are considered in making a decision.

Both the general GRE and the GRE Biology subject test are optional for applicants to the Duke Biology Ph.D. program.  Not having taken these tests will in no way disadvantage your application.

Applications are due November 30 . The Biology Graduate Admissions Committee will contact those applicants who qualify for on-site interviews (applicants already in the US) or Skype interviews (international applicants) by mid-January. We invite select candidates to visit the Duke campus for one of two planned weekends in February to meet our faculty and graduate students. Final decisions are made in March.

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Center for Computational Biology

Computational Biology PhD

The main objective of the Computational Biology PhD is to train the next generation of scientists who are both passionate about exploring the interface of computation and biology, and committed to functioning at a high level in both computational and biological fields.

The program emphasizes multidisciplinary competency, interdisciplinary collaboration, and transdisciplinary research, and offers an integrated and customizable curriculum that consists of two semesters of didactic course work tailored to each student’s background and interests, research rotations with faculty mentors spanning computational biology’s core disciplines, and dissertation research jointly supervised by computational and biological faculty mentors.

The Computational Biology Graduate Group facilitates student immersion into UC Berkeley’s vibrant computational biology research community. Currently, the Group includes over 46 faculty from across 14 departments of the College of Letters and Science, the College of Engineering, the College of Natural Resources, and the School of Public Health. Many of these faculty are available as potential dissertation research advisors for Computational Biology PhD students, with more available for participation on doctoral committees.

biology phd us

The First Year

The time to degree (normative time) of the Computational Biology PhD is five years. The first year of the program emphasizes gaining competency in computational biology, the biological sciences, and the computational sciences (broadly construed). Since student backgrounds will vary widely, each student will work with faculty and student advisory committees to develop a program of study tailored to their background and interests. Specifically, all first-year students must:

  • Perform three rotations with Core faculty (one rotation with a non-Core faculty is acceptable with advance approval)
  • Complete course work requirements (see below)
  • Complete a course in the Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Attend the computational biology seminar series
  • Complete experimental training (see below)

Laboratory Rotations

Entering students are required to complete three laboratory rotations during their first year in the program to seek out a Dissertation Advisor under whose supervision dissertation research will be conducted. Students should rotate with at least one computational Core faculty member and one experimental Core faculty member. Click here to view rotation policy. 

Course Work & Additional Requirements

Students must complete the following coursework in the first three (up to four) semesters. Courses must be taken for a grade and a grade of B or higher is required for a course to count towards degree progress:

  • Fall and Spring semester of CMPBIO 293, Doctoral Seminar in Computational Biology
  • A Responsible Conduct of Research course, most likely through the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology.
  • STAT 201A & STAT 201B : Intro to Probability and Statistics at an Advanced Level. Note: Students who are offered admission and are not prepared to complete STAT 201A and 201B will be required to complete STAT 134 or PH 142 first.
  • CS61A : The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. Note: students with the equivalent background can replace this requirement with a more advanced CS course of their choosing.
  • 3 elective courses relevant to the field of Computational Biology , one of which must be at the graduate level (see below for details).
  • Attend the computational biology invited speaker seminar series. A schedule is circulated to all students by email and is available on the Center website. Starting with the 2023 entering class, CCB PhD students must enroll in CMPBIO 275: Computational Biology Seminar , which provides credit for this seminar series.
  • 1) completion of a laboratory course at Berkeley with a minimum grade of B,
  • 2) completion of a rotation in an experimental lab (w/ an experimental project), with a positive evaluation from the PI,
  • a biological sciences undergraduate major with at least two upper division laboratory-based courses,
  • a semester or equivalent of supervised undergraduate experimental laboratory-based research at a university,
  • or previous paid or volunteer/internship work in an industry-based experimental laboratory.

Students are expected to develop a course plan for their program requirements and to consult with the Head Graduate Advisor before the Spring semester of their first year for formal approval (signature required). The course plan will take into account the student’s undergraduate training areas and goals for PhD research areas.

Satisfactory completion of first year requirements will be evaluated at the end of the spring semester of the first year. If requirements are satisfied, students will formally choose a Dissertation advisor from among the core faculty with whom they rotated and begin dissertation research.

Waivers: Students may request waivers for the specific courses STAT 201A, STAT 201B, and CS61A. In all cases of waivers, the student must take alternative courses in related areas so as to have six additional courses, as described above. For waiving out of STAT 201A/B, students can demonstrate they have completed the equivalent by passing a proctored assessment exam on Campus. For waiving out CS61A, the Head Graduate Advisor will evaluate student’s previous coursework based on the previous course’s syllabus and other course materials to determine equivalency.

Electives: Of the three electives, students are required to choose one course in each of the two following cluster areas:

  • Cluster A (Biological Science) : These courses are defined as those for which the learning goals are primarily related to biology. This includes courses covering topics in molecular biology, genetics, evolution, environmental science, experimental methods, and human health. This category may also cover courses whose focus is on learning how to use bioinformatic tools to understand experimental data.
  • Cluster B (Computational Sciences): These courses are defined as those for which the learning goals involve computing, inference, or mathematical modeling, broadly defined. This includes courses on algorithms, computing languages or structures, mathematical or probabilistic concepts, and statistics. This category would include courses whose focus is on biological applications of such topics.

In the below link we give some relevant such courses, but students can take courses beyond this list; for courses not on this list, the Head Graduate Advisor will determine to which cluster a course can be credited. For classes that have significant overlap between these two clusters, the department which offers the course may influence the decision of the HGA as to whether the course should be assigned to cluster A or B.

See below for some suggested courses in these categories:

Suggested Coursework Options

Second Year & Beyond

At the beginning of the fall of the second year, students begin full-time dissertation research in earnest under the supervision of their Dissertation advisor. It is anticipated that it will take students three (up to four) semesters to complete the 6 course requirement. Students are required to continue to participate annually in the computational biology seminar series.

Qualifying Examination

Students are expected to take and pass an oral Qualifying Examination (QE) by the end of the spring semester (June 15th) of their second year of graduate study. Students must present a written dissertation proposal to the QE committee no fewer than four weeks prior to the oral QE. The write-up should follow the format of an NIH-style grant proposal (i.e., it should include an abstract, background and significance, specific aims to be addressed (~3), and a research plan for addressing the aims) and must thoroughly discuss plans for research to be conducted in the dissertation lab. Click here for more details on the guidelines and format for the QE. Click here to view the rules for the composition of the committee and the form for declaring your committee.

Advancement to Candidacy

After successfully completing the QE, students will Advance to Candidacy. At this time, students select the members of their dissertation committee and submit this committee for approval to the Graduate Division. Students should endeavor to include a member whose research represents a complementary yet distinct area from that of the dissertation advisor (ie, biological vs computational, experimental vs theoretical) and that will be integrated in the student’s dissertation research. Click here to view the rules for the composition of the committee and the form for declaring your committee.

Meetings with the Dissertation Committee

After Advancing to Candidacy, students are expected to meet with their Dissertation Committee at least once each year.

Teaching Requirements

Computational Biology PhD students are required to teach at least two semesters (starting with Fall 2019 class), but may teach more. The requirement can be modified if the student has funding that does not allow teaching. Starting with the Fall 2019 class: At least one of those courses should require that you teach a section. Berkeley Connect or CMPBIO 293 can count towards one of the required semesters.

The Dissertation

Dissertation projects will represent scholarly, independent and novel research that contributes new knowledge to Computational Biology by integrating knowledge and methodologies from both the biological and computational sciences. Students must submit their dissertation by the May Graduate Division filing deadline (see Graduate Division for date) of their fifth–and final–year.

Special Requirements

Students will be required to present their research either orally or via a poster at the annual retreat beginning in their second year.

  • Financial Support

The Computational Biology Graduate Group provides a competitive stipend (the stipend for 2023-24 is $43,363) as well as full payment of fees and non-resident tuition (which includes health care). Students maintaining satisfactory academic progress are provided full funding for five to five and a half years. The program supports students in the first year, while the PI/mentor provides support from the second year on. A portion of this support is in the form of salary from teaching assistance as a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) in allied departments, such as Molecular and Cell Biology, Integrative Biology, Plant and Microbial Biology, Mathematics, Statistics or Computer Science. Teaching is part of the training of the program and most students will not teach more than two semesters, unless by choice.

Due to cost constraints, the program admits few international students; the average is two per year. Those admitted are also given full financial support (as noted above): stipend, fees and tuition.

Students are also strongly encouraged to apply for extramural fellowships for the proposal writing experience. There are a number of extramural fellowships that Berkeley students apply for that current applicants may find appealing. Please note that the NSF now only allows two submissions – once as an undergrad and once in grad school. The NSF funds students with potential, as opposed to specific research projects, so do not be concerned that you don’t know your grad school plans yet – just put together a good proposal! Although we make admissions offers before the fellowships results are released, all eligible students should take advantage of both opportunities to apply, as it’s a great opportunity and a great addition to a CV.

  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (app deadlines in Oct)
  • Hertz Foundation Fellowship (app deadline Oct)
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (app deadline in mid-Fall)
  • DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (Krell Institute) (app deadline in Jan)

CCB no longer requires the GRE for admission (neither general, nor subject). The GRE will not be seen by the review committee, even if sent to Berkeley.

PLEASE NOTE: The application deadline is Wednesday, November 30 , 2023, 8:59 PST/11:59 EST

If you would like to learn more about our program, you can watch informational YouTube videos from the past two UC Berkeley Graduate Diversity Admissions Fairs: 2021 recording & 2020 recording .

We invite applications from students with distinguished academic records, strong foundations in the basic biological, physical and computational sciences, as well as significant computer programming and research experience. Admission for the Computational Biology PhD is for the fall semester only, and Computational Biology does not offer a Master’s degree.

We are happy to answer any questions you may have, but please be sure to read this entire page first, as many of your questions will be answered below or on the Tips tab.

IMPORTANT : Please note that it is not possible to select a specific PhD advisor until the end of the first year in the program, so contacting individual faculty about openings in their laboratories will not increase your chances of being accepted into the program. You will have an opportunity to discuss your interests with relevant faculty if you are invited to interview in February.

Undergraduate Preparation

Minimum requirements for admission to graduate study:

  • A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • Undergraduate preparation reflecting a balance of training in computational biology’s core disciplines (biology, computer science, statistics/mathematics), for example, a single interdisciplinary major, such as computational biology or bioinformatics; a major in a core discipline and a combination of interdisciplinary course work and research experiences; or a double major in core disciplines.
  • Basic research experience and aptitude are key considerations for admission, so evidence of research experience and letters of recommendation from faculty mentors attesting to the applicant’s research experience are of particular interest.
  • GRE – NOT required or used for review .
  • TOEFL scores for international students (see below for details).

Application Requirements

ALL materials, including letters, are due November 30, 2023 (8:59 PST). More information is provided and required as part of the online application, so please create an account and review the application before emailing with questions (and please set up an account well before the deadline):

  • A completed graduate application: The online application opens in early or mid-September and is located on the Graduate Division website . Paper applications are not accepted. Please create your account and review the application well ahead of the submit date , as it will take time to complete and requests information not listed here.
  • A nonrefundable application fee: The fee must be paid using a major credit card and is not refundable. For US citizens and permanent residents, the fee is $135; US citizens and permanent residents may request a fee waiver as part of the online application. For all other students (international) the fee is $155 (no waivers, no exceptions). Graduate Admissions manages the fee, not the program, so please contact them with questions.
  • Three letters of recommendation, minimum (up to five are accepted): Letters of recommendation must be submitted online as part of the Graduate Division’s application process. Letters are also due November 30, so please inform your recommenders of this deadline and give them sufficient advance notice. It is your responsibility to monitor the status of your letters of recommendation (sending prompts, as necessary) in the online system.
  • Transcripts: Unofficial copies of all relevant transcripts, uploaded as part of the online application (see application for details). Scanned copies of official transcripts are strongly preferred, as transcripts must include applicant and institution name and degree goal and should be easy for the reviewers to read (print-outs from online personal schedules can be hard to read and transcripts without your name and the institution name cannot be used for review). Do not send via mail official transcripts to Grad Division or Computational Biology, they will be discarded.
  • Essays: Follow links to view descriptions of what these essays should include ( Statement of Purpose [2-3 pages], Personal Statement [1-2 pages]). Also review Tips tab for formatting advice.
  • (Highly recommended) Applicants should consider applying for extramural funding, such as NSF Fellowships. These are amazing opportunities and the application processes are great preparation for graduate studies. Please see Financial Support tab.
  • Read and follow all of the “Application Tips” listed on the last tab. This ensures that everything goes smoothly and you make a good impression on the faculty reviewing your file.

The GRE general test is not required. GRE subject tests are not required. GRE scores will not be a determining factor for application review and admission, and will NOT be seen by the CCB admissions committee. While we do not encourage anyone to take the exam, in case you decide to apply to a different program at Berkeley that does require them: the UC Berkeley school code is 4833; department codes are unnecessary. As long as the scores are sent to UC Berkeley, they will be received by any program you apply to on campus.

TOEFL/IELTS

Adequate proficiency in English must be demonstrated by those applicants applying from countries where English is not the official language. There are two standardized tests you may take: the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). TOEFL minimum passing scores are 90 for the  Internet-based test (IBT) , and 570 for the paper-based format (PBT) . The TOEFL may be waived if an international student has completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better while in residence at a U.S. university (transcript will be required). Please click here for more information .

Application Deadlines

The Application Deadline is 8:59 pm Pacific Standard Time, November 30, 2023 . The application will lock at 9pm PST, precisely. All materials must be received by the deadline. While rec letters can continue to be submitted and received after the deadline, the committee meets in early December and will review incomplete applications. TOEFL tests should be taken by or before the deadline, but self-reported scores are acceptable for review while the official scores are being processed. All submitted applications will be reviewed, even if materials are missing, but it may impact the evaluation of the application.

It is your responsibility to ensure and verify that your application materials are submitted in a timely manner. Please be sure to hit the submit button when you have completed the application and to monitor the status of your letters of recommendation (sending prompts, as necessary). Please include the statement of purpose and personal statement in the online application. While you can upload a CV, please DO NOT upload entire publications or papers. Please DO NOT send paper résumés, separate folders of information, or articles via mail. They will be discarded unread.

The Computational Biology Interview Visit dates will be: February 25-27, 2024

Top applicants who are being considered for admission will be invited to visit campus for interviews with faculty. Invitations will be made by early January. Students are expected to stay for the entire event, arriving in Berkeley by 5:30pm on the first day and leaving the evening of the final day. In the application, you must provide the names of between 7-10 faculty from the Computational Biology website with whom you are interested in conducting research or performing rotations. This helps route your application to our reviewers and facilitates the interview scheduling process. An invitation is not a guarantee of admission.

International students may be interviewed virtually, as flights are often prohibitively expensive.

Tips for the Application Process

Uploaded Documents: Be sure to put your name and type of essay on your essays ( Statement of Purpose [2-3 pages], Personal Statement [1-2 pages]) as a header or before the text, whether you use the text box or upload a PDF or Word doc. There is no minimum length on either essay, but 3 pages maximum is suggested. The Statement of Purpose should describe your research and educational background and aspirations. The Personal Statement can include personal achievements not necessarily related to research, barriers you’ve had to overcome, mentoring and volunteering activities, things that make you unique and demonstrate the qualities you will bring to the program.

Letters of Recommendation: should be from persons who have supervised your research or academic work and who can evaluate your intellectual ability, creativity, leadership potential and promise for productive scholarship. If lab supervision was provided by a postdoc or graduate student, the letter should carry the signature or support of the faculty member in charge of the research project. Note: the application can be submitted before all of the recommenders have completed their letters. It is your responsibility to keep track of your recommender’s progress through the online system. Be sure to send reminders if your recommenders do not submit their letters.

Extramural fellowships: it is to your benefit to apply for fellowships as they may facilitate entry into the lab of your choice, are a great addition to your CV and often provide higher stipends. Do not allow concerns about coming up with a research proposal before joining a lab prevent you from applying. The fellowships are looking for research potential and proposal writing skills and will not hold you to specific research projects once you have started graduate school.

Calculating GPA: Schools can differ in how they assign grades and calculate grade point averages, so it may be difficult for this office to offer advice. The best resource for calculating the GPA for your school is to check the back of the official transcripts where a guide is often provided or use an online tool. There are free online GPA conversion tools that can be found via an internet search.

Faculty Contact/Interests: Please be sure to list faculty that interest you as part of the online application. You are not required to contact any faculty in advance, nor will it assist with admission, but are welcome to if you wish to learn more about their research.

Submitting the application: To avoid the possibility of computer problems on either side, it is NOT advisable to wait until the last day to start and/or submit your application. It is not unusual for the application system to have difficulties during times of heavy traffic. However, there is no need to submit the application too early. No application will be reviewed before the deadline.

Visits: We only arrange one campus visit for recruitment purposes. If you are interested in visiting the campus and meeting with faculty before the application deadline, you are welcome to do so on your own time (we will be unable to assist).

Name: Please double check that you have entered your first and last names in the correct fields. This is our first impression of you as a candidate, so you do want to get your name correct! Be sure to put your name on any documents that you upload (Statement of Purpose, Personal Statement).

California Residency: You are not considered a resident if you hope to enter our program in the Fall, but have never lived in California before or are here on a visa. So, please do not mark “resident” on the application in anticipation of admission. You must have lived in California previously, and be a US citizen or Permanent Resident, to be a resident.

Faculty Leadership Head Graduate Advisor and Chair for the PhD & DE John Huelsenbeck ( [email protected] )

Associate Head Graduate Advisor for PhD & DE Liana Lareau ( [email protected] )

Equity Advisor Rasmus Nielsen ( [email protected] )

Director of CCB Elizabeth Purdom ( [email protected] )

Core PhD & DE Faculty ( link )

Staff support Student Services Advisor (GSAO): Kate Chase ( [email protected] )

Link to external website (http://www.berkeley.edu)

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Training the next generation of cancer researchers

Program Overview

The Cancer Biology program spans many disciplines, including cell biology, genetics, biochemistry, microbiology, pharmacology, pathology, epidemiology, bioinformatics, and immunology, to name a few. It represents a unique set of training and educational activities that, taken collectively, expose the student to the full breadth of cancer biology while allowing immersion in a specific dissertation topic of the student’s choice.

Faculty in the Program are interested in a number of topic areas, including: Cancer genetics; Cancer epigenetics; Tumor immunology; Cell biology; Epidemiology; Pathology; Tumor metabolism; Bioinformatics; Cancer drug discovery.

Projects range from fundamental studies of basic biological processes to translational research aiming to move basic findings into the clinic.

Apply through our PIBS application

Students in the Cancer Biology program are required to take core courses in Cancer Biology and Bioinformatics. PIBS core courses should be taken to fill gaps in knowledge or together with other electives, to strengthen a student’s knowledge base in an area of interest. Students are also required to participate in the Cancer Biology Seminar Series for the duration of their time in the program. The Cancer Biology Seminar Series course provides not only continued exposure to the breadth of cancer research but also experience in honing seminar presentation skills.

Preliminary Examination

The preliminary exam consists of two checkpoints. The first is a didactic exam that evaluates students’ understanding of the fundamentals of cancer biology. This exam will take place in May at the end of the first year in order to advance to PhD candidacy. The second checkpoint takes place in the winter semester of the second year and is comprised of two steps, the writing of a written research proposal (NIH format) and the oral presentation of the proposal to the preliminary exam committee.

Teaching Requirement

There are no formal requirements for teaching in the Cancer Biology program. However, opportunities exist for senior students to serve as teaching assistants for one term of the introductory cancer biology class. In addition, students with an interest in teaching are encouraged to pursue the U-M Graduate Teaching Certificate as a way to prepare themselves for careers that will involve college-level teaching.

Students help organize the annual Cancer Biology retreat, including selecting the keynote speaker. This fun and informal setting gives students, postdocs, and faculty the opportunity to present their research, generate collaborations, and receive feedback. Trainees and faculty give oral presentations and all members of our cancer research community are invited to deliver poster presentations. The retreat is a great opportunity for first year PIBS and MSTP students to explore the research and meet students and faculty in the Cancer Biology program.

Research Seminar/Journal Club

The Cancer Biology Graduate Program sponsors a weekly seminar program that runs through the academic year. Students are encouraged to nominate and host external cancer researchers whose work they find exciting and cutting edge. Senior students participate by giving oral presentations on their research progress and second year students give journal clubs highlighting the research of invited speakers.

Social Events

During the summer, students get together for a picnic and canoe trip that includes the summer undergraduate research students. At the beginning of the academic year, the program director hosts an orientation dinner for all to welcome the new students. There is an annual year-end holiday party along with monthly happy hours for students to relax in an informal setting.

Extracurricular

Students are involved in a variety of activities outside of lab. Many students give back to the community through educational and community outreach programs. Cancer Biology students have fun by attending sporting events, participating in outdoor activities, club sports, and arts/crafts events, and enjoying food/drink and museums – all which Ann Arbor offers.

The impact of cancer on all our lives emphasizes the need to continue training individuals to pursue research into its cure and prevention. The ongoing investment of the National Cancer Institute and non-governmental funding organizations including the American Cancer Society, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and others, means that research at universities and research institutes will remain a high priority, thereby providing jobs for cancer researchers with doctoral degrees. The complexity of cancer leads to the unfortunate realization that it will take many years to unlock all of its mysteries, resulting in a long-term need for persons trained in the field.

Besides the tremendous investment in basic cancer research at universities and non-profit organizations, the development of new therapeutic modalities for cancer represents a large percentage of pharmaceutical company expenditures. According to IMS Health, the global oncology market was growing at 6.8% overall in 2011, double that number in the pharmaceutical sector. In 2013, the worth of the market was approximately $75 billion just in the US. Given this huge investment in cancer research, the job market for individuals with doctoral degrees in cancer biology is very large and growing.

Learn more about the Department of Cancer Biology.

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Oral Biology, PhD

The PhD program provides training for those who wish to pursue basic and/or clinical research in dental medicine or the biomedical sciences. Candidates may include those with bachelor's, master's, or DDS (or equivalent) degrees. 

FALL 2025 ENROLLMENT  |  Applications accepted June 1, 2024 - February 1, 2025

Program Co-Directors: Dr. Jill Kramer [email protected]

Dr. Rose-Anne Romano [email protected]

Admissions Requirements

All School of Dental Medicine Advanced Education programs use a holistic admissions approach. 

The Oral Biology admissions committee is most interested in a candidate's:

Preferred Acceptance Criteria

  • Personal statement that includes discussion of research motivation and long-term goals
  • Research experience
  • Research-related presentations and/or publications
  • Alignment of research interests with those of the department faculty
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Performance in science-related courses 

The University sets general admissions requirements for graduate study.  These include a minimum undergraduate GPA and demonstration of English Language proficiency for international applicants. Please refer to the  General Admissions Requirements  page for full details.

College of Biological Sciences

College of Biological Sciences

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Department of Plant Biology

Plant biology encompasses the scientific exploration of plants as living entities, covering cellular and molecular biology along with traditional botanical fields like anatomy, morphology, and ecology. The Department of Plant Biology emphasizes three main research areas: plant molecular and cell biology, plant physiology and biophysics, and plant structural and developmental biology, including a focus on plant genetics. Faculty members study a range of organisms from algae to higher plants, while also investigating plant diversity. Utilizing molecular biology, genetics, and biochemistry, faculty members identify and characterize plant genes, study plant structure, function, and development, and explore plant-environment interactions.

Undergraduate Programs

More information about CBS majors and minors

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Facilities - plb updated.

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Botanical Conservatory

The Botanical Conservatory, founded in 1959, is a 3,600 square-foot complex north of Storer Hall that serves as an educational facility, research resource, and genetic diversity preserve, housing over 4,000 plant species from around the world.

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Controlled Environment Facility

The department's controlled environment facilities are specialized spaces that allow researchers to precisely regulate temperature, humidity, light, and airflow to support research work with a variety of plants and other organisms.

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Research Greenhouses

The department's research greenhouses encompass a diverse array of 22 greenhouses, a screenhouse, and 13,000 square feet of field space. These facilities support research on various plant species.

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Teaching Greenhouses

The teaching greenhouse atop Katherine Esau Science Hall is an innovative facility where faculty and students conduct research, nurture plants, and explore cutting-edge techniques to enhance crop abundance, nutrition, and plant resilience.

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University of Northern Colorado

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Mit McGlaughlin

Mit McGlaughlin

Department chair and professor.

School of Biological Sciences Natural and Health Sciences

Contact Information

Email [email protected] Phone 970-351-2139 Fax 970-351-2335 Office Ross Hall, Room 1560 Office Hours M 10:30-11:30 W 1:00-2:00 or by appointment Mailing Address 501 20th Street, Greeley, CO 80639

  • Ph.D.: Botany , Claremont Graduate University/Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, CA (2005)
  • B.A.: Biology , Reed College, Portland, OR (1999)

Professional/Academic Experience

Dr. McGlaughlin  joined the faculty of UNC in the fall of 2008. His research is focused on using genetics to understand the nature of plant species, speciation, and conservation. Between 2005 and 2008 Dr. McGlaughlin worked as a Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of South Dakota, with Dr. Kaius Helenurm. His post doctoral research was focused on phylogeographic and conservation genetic studies with rare and endangered plants on the California Channel Islands. This research was predominantly funded by the US Navy in order to enhance management practices on the San Clemente Island bombing range. In 2005, Dr. McGlaughlin received his PhD in Botany from a joint program through Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Claremont Graduate University, working with Dr. Elizabeth Friar. His doctoral research examined patterns of diversification in a widespread member of the Hawaiian silversword alliance,  Dubautia laxa  (Asteraceae). While working at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden he conducted numerous conservation genetic studies for resource management agencies in Southern California. In 1999 Dr. McGlaughlin received a BA from Reed College, working with Dr. Keith Karoly. As an undergraduate, he conducted conservation genetic research on the Pink Sand Verbena,  Abronia umbellata  (Nyctaginaceae). 

Classes Taught

  • BIO 329 Field Botany
  • BIO 330/530 Plant Systematics
  • BIO 462/562 Conservation Biology
  • BIO 465 Evolution
  • BIO 526 Population Genetics
  • BIO 539/539L Molecular Ecology
  • BIO 572 Species and Speciation
  • SCI 291 Scientific Writing

Research/Areas of Interest

     Plant phylogeography on the California Channel Islands; Adaptive evolution in the Hawaiian silversword alliance; Conservation Genetics; Plant Speciation; Colorado Botany; Conservation Biology.

Publications/Creative Works

Recent peer-reviewed research publications.

McGlaughlin, M.E. , Riley, L., Helenurm, K., Wallace, L. E. (2018). Does channel island Acmispon (Fabaceae) form cohesive evolutionary groups?  Western North American Naturalist: Papers from the 9 th California Islands Symposium 4th ed., vol. 78, pp. 739-757.

Riley, L., McGlaughlin, M.E. , Helenurm, K. (2018). Limited genetic variability in native buckwheats ( Eriogonum : Polygonaceae) on San Clemente Island.   Western North American Naturalist: Papers from the 9 th California Islands Symposium 4th ed., vol. 78, pp. 722-738. 

Smith, C., McGlaughlin, M.E. , Mackessy, S. (2018). DNA barcodes from snake venom: a broadly applicable method for extraction of DNA from snake venoms. BioTechniques , 65, 339-345.

Wallace, L. E., Wheeler, G. L., McGlaughlin, M.E. , Bresowar, G., Helenurm, K. (2017). Phylogeography and genetic structure of endemic Acmispon argophyllus and A. dendroideus (Fabaceae) across the California Channel Islands. American Journal of Botany, 104(5), 743-756.

Riley, L., M.E. McGlaughlin, and K. Helenurm. 2016. Narrow water barriers prevent multiple colonizations and limit gene flow among California Channel Islands wild buckwheats (Eriogonum: Polygonaceae). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 181: 246-268.

Riley, L., and M.E. McGlaughlin . 2016. Endemism in native floras of California’s Channel Islands correlated with seasonal patterns of aeolian processes. Botany 94: 65-72.

Bresowar, G.B. and M.E. McGlaughlin. 2015. Morphological And Genetic Discrepancies in Oreocarya paradoxa and its Gypsophile Sister Species, O. revealii (Boraginaceae): The Impact Of Edaphic Factors On Recent Diversification In The Colorado Plateau. American Journal of Botany 102: 1647-1658.

Fuller, R.S., S. Frietze, and M.E. McGlaughlin . 2015. Characterization of 13 microsatellite markers for Calochortus gunnisonii (Liliaceae) from Illumina MiSeq sequenceing. Applications in Plant Sciences 3(8): 1500051.

Schwabe, A.L., J. Ramp Neale, and M.E. McGlaughlin . 2015. Examining the genetic integrity of a rare endemic Colorado cactus ( Sclerocactus glaucus ) in the face of hybridization threats from a close and widespread congener ( Sclerocactus parviflorus ). Conservation Genetics 16: 443-457 .

M.E. McGlaughlin, L. Riley, M. Brandsrud, E. Arcibal, M.K. Helenurm, K. Helenurm. 2015. How much is enough? Minimum sampling intensity required to capture extant genetic diversity in ex situ seed collections: examples from the endangered plant Sibara filifolia (Brassicaceae). Conservation Genetics 16: 253-266 .

Dorman, H.E., M.E. McGlaughlin , and L.E. Wallace. 2014. Widespread variation in NSP1 , a gene involved in Rhizobium nodulation, across species of Acmispon (Fabaceae) from diverse habitats. Botany : 92: 571-578.

McGlaughlin, M.E. , L.E. Wallace, G.L. Wheeler, G.E. Bresowar, L. Riley, N.R. Britten, and K. Helenurm. 2014. Do the island biogeography predictions of MacArthur and Wilson hold when examining genetic diversity on the near mainland California Channel Islands? Examples from endemic Acmispon (Fabaceae). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 174: 289-304.

McGlaughlin, M.E. , and E.A. Friar. 2011. The role of geography in infraspecific diversification in a widespread member of the Hawaiian silversword alliance, Dubautia laxa (Asteraceae). Annals of Botany: 107: 357-370.

Friar, E.A., L.M. Prince, J.M. Cruse-Sanders, M.E. McGlaughlin , C.A. Butterworth, and B.G. Baldwin. 2008. Hybrid origin and genomic mosaicism of Dubautia scabra (Hawaiian Silversword Alliance; Asteraceae--Madiinae). Systematic Botany. 33: 589-597.

Recently presented papers and posters

  • McGlaughlin, M.E ., L. Riley, and K. Helenurm. 2015. How much is enough? Minimum sampling intensity required to capture extant genetic diversity in ex situ seed collections: examples from the endangered plant Sibara filifolia (Brassicaceae). Botany 2015, Botanical Society of America Annual Meeting, Edmonton, Canada.
  • Fuller, R.S. and M.E. McGlaughlin. 2015 The Role Of Glacial Oscillatory Demographic Changes In The Central And Southern Rocky Mountains In Shaping The Genetic Structure Of Gunnison’s Mariposa Lily.Botany 2015, Botanical Society of America Annual Meeting, Edmonton, Canada.
  • Wills, B. and M.E. McGlaughlin . 2015. Resolving Taxonomic Synonymy of Phacelia submutica (DeBeque Phacelia) using ITS (nuclear) and ndhF (chloroplast) Sequences: Implications for Rare Plant Management. Botany 2015, Botanical Society of America Annual Meeting, Edmonton, Canada.
  • McGlaughlin, M.E ., L.E. Wallace, and K. Helenurm. 2014. Conflicting evolutionary signal among genetic markers in the endemic Lotus (Fabaceae) of the California Channel Islands. Botany 2014, Botanical Society of America Annual Meeting, Boise, ID.
  • Schwabe, A., Neale, J., and M.E. McGlaughlin . 2014. Hybridization or phenotypic plasticity? A genetic investigation of an endangered endemic Colorado cactus ( Sclerocactus glaucus ) in the face of hybridization threats from a widespread congener ( Sclerocactus parviflorus). Botany 2014, Botanical Society of America Annual Meeting, Boise, ID.
  • Hubbard, A. , Neale, J., and M.E. McGlaughlin . 2014. Examination of Sclerocactus wetlandicus and Sclerocactus brevispinus genetic diversity and population structure in the Unita Basin, Utah. Botany 2014, Botanical Society of America Annual Meeting, Boise, ID.
  • McGlaughlin, M.E. , and K. Helenurm. 2012. Gene flow and divergence in Leptosyne gigantea , Giant Tickseed, on the California Channel Islands. California Islands Symposia, Ventura, CA.
  • Riley, L., M.E. McGlaughlin , K. Helenurm. 2012. Phylogeography of Eriogonum (Polygonacaea) endemic to the California Channel Islands. California Islands Symposia, Ventura, CA.
  • McGlaughlin, M.E. , G. Bresowar, K. Helenurm, and L.E. Wallace. 2011. Isolation among islands as a driver of divergence in the endemic Lotus (Fabaceae) of the California Channel Islands. Botanical Society of America Annual Meeting, St. Louis, MO.
  • Bresowar, G. and M.E. McGlaughlin . 2011. Phylogenetics of the genus Cryptantha subgenus Oreocarya (Boraginaceae): A western North American taxon. Botanical Society of America Annual Meeting, St. Louis, MO.

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USF graduate programs ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report

Nearly two dozen graduate programs at USF considered among the best in America

  • April 9, 2024

University News

By Althea Johnson , University Communications and Marketing

The University of South Florida is home to nearly two dozen graduate programs considered among the best in America, according to new rankings released today by U.S. News & World Report. USF features 23 graduate programs ranked inside the top 100 among all public and private institutions, including 11 ranked in the top 50.

USF’s highest-ranked programs are industrial and organizational psychology at No. 3, criminology at No. 18 and audiology, which comes in at No. 22. 

Among USF Health’s ranked programs, nursing anesthesia jumped 58 spots into the top 50, the physical therapy program rose by double digits to No. 33 and the nursing master’s program now sits in the top 25 at No. 24. 

In addition, USF’s social work and part-time MBA programs both saw double-digit gains and the education program broke into the top 50.  

“We are thrilled that many University of South Florida graduate programs are included among the nation’s best in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings,” USF President Rhea Law said. “This recognition underscores the commitment of our faculty and staff, who continue to provide high-quality programs that empower our students to enhance their skills, expand their knowledge and progress in their careers by earning an advanced degree.”

Full list of USF’s top 50 programs:

Industrial and Organizational Psychology* – 3 Criminology* – 18 Audiology – 22 Nursing – Master’s – 24 Library and Information Studies* – 27 Public Health – 29 Physical Therapy – 33 Nursing – Doctor of Nursing Practice – 34 Nursing – Anesthesia – 36 Rehabilitation Counseling* – 46 Education – Overall – 48

Full list of USF’s 51-100 programs:

Healthcare Management*– 52 Speech-Language Pathology – 52 Business ‐ Part‐time MBA – 53 Earth Sciences* – 54 Pharmacy – 60 Physician's Assistant/Associate Studies* – 65 Fine Arts* – 73 Social Work – 83  Statistics* – 86  Business – Full-time MBA – 87  Sociology* – 92 Psychology* – 97  

As U.S. News does not release new rankings for every program, every year, rankings denoted with an asterisk have been republished this year. U.S News also announced that medical, engineering and clinical psychology school rankings will be released at a later date. 

According to U.S. News, rankings are generated through “ranking indicators” derived from reputation and/or data reported by each institution.  For some programs, U.S. News evaluates key areas such as expert opinions in the field, opportunities for student engagement, resources for student support and career success, as well as faculty and student performance, in terms of existing credentials, research impact and metrics such as student job placement.

In addition to the graduate program rankings, in September 2023 U.S. News ranked USF as one of the nation’s top 50 public universities for the fifth consecutive year , and the university earned its highest ranking ever among all universities public or private. 

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2024 NSF GRFP Fellows

Hasti Asrari (’23)

biology phd us

Maya Isabel Gomez (’22)

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Bernadeth Tolentino (’22)

<<No image available>>

Honorable Mention

Daria Di Blasi (’22)

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The Daily

American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology honors MD/PhD student Hannah Kondolf

Hannah Kondolf, a student in the MD/PhD program, was named a Journal of Biological Chemistry Herbert Tabor Early Career Award winner. Kondolf conducted the PhD portion of her program in the lab of Derek Abbott, professor of medicine. 

Kondolf worked on pore-forming proteins important in autoinflammatory disorders. While in the Abbott lab, she co-authored manuscripts in Cell and Science Immunology . Her major manuscript made use of a novel protein engineering system to show that the pore-forming protein, Gasdermin A, preferentially inserts into the mitochondrial membranes when activated. The result is the release of mitochondrial DNA, a potent inflammatory stimulation agent.

The American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology—a major scientific society with over 11,000 members—granted Kondolf this award.

Ph.D. Funding

Students are strongly encouraged to sign-up for direct deposit of their stipend and salary online via AXESS.

Students with Fellowships

Students must register in exactly 10 units (or 0 units of BIO 802 if in TGR status) in Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer quarters.  In many quarters, students will enroll in 10 units of research (typically BIO 300 or BIOHOPK 300H) with their advisor. 

Stipend Distribution

As long as students have enrolled in the required number of units by the published deadline, fellowship stipends are available the first day of each quarter. If the enrollment deadline is missed, stipends are disbursed a few business days after the student eventually meets the enrollment requirements.

Mandatory charges on the student bill, including rent for on campus housing, will be deducted from the stipend before it is issued. No taxes are withheld, but stipends are reportable and taxable income. (Fellowship tuition and tuition allowance are not taxable in most cases.)

Students with Assistantships

Students with assistantships are paid their salaries through bi-monthly (i.e., twice monthly) pay checks from the Stanford Payroll Office. The normal pay days are the 7th and the 22nd of every month. Student assistantship salary is taxable income, and applicable taxes and deductions will be withheld in accordance with the W-4 Tax Data form completed by each student. This form and other payroll forms will be provided to new students during the orientation in Autumn Quarter.

Pay Periods

Pay periods within each quarter are based on a calendar year, not the academic year. Pay cycles run two weeks behind the actual pay date, thus a student's first Autumn Quarter pay check is issued on October 22 (for work completed during the pay period of October 1st to the 15th). Students are paid every 7th and 22nd of the month thereafter.

  • Autumn Quarter pay periods run from October 1 – December 31
  • Winter Quarter pay periods run from January 1 – March 31
  • Spring Quarter pay periods run from April 1 – June 30
  • Summer Quarter pay periods run from July 1 – September 30

Best Global Universities for Molecular Biology and Genetics in the United States

These are the top universities in the United States for molecular biology and genetics, based on their reputation and research in the field. Read the methodology »

To unlock more data and access tools to help you get into your dream school, sign up for the  U.S. News College Compass !

Here are the best global universities for molecular biology and genetics in the United States

Harvard university, massachusetts institute of technology (mit), stanford university, university of california san francisco, university of washington seattle, university of pennsylvania, johns hopkins university, university of california san diego, cornell university, icahn school of medicine at mount sinai.

See the full rankings

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biology phd us

  • # 1 in Best Universities for Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • # 1 in Best Global Universities

Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest higher education institution in the U.S. The bulk of Harvard's... Read More

biology phd us

  • # 2 in Best Universities for Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • # 2 in Best Global Universities

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, founded in 1861, is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near Boston. Around... Read More

biology phd us

  • # 3 in Best Universities for Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • # 3 in Best Global Universities

Stanford University was founded in 1885 and is located in California’s Bay Area, around 30 miles south of San Francisco... Read More

biology phd us

  • # 4 in Best Universities for Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • # 16 in Best Global Universities  (tie)

The University of California—San Francisco is a public institution that was founded in 1864. The health sciences-focused... Read More

biology phd us

  • # 5 in Best Universities for Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • # 6 in Best Global Universities

The University of Washington is a public institution that was founded in 1861. The school's oldest and largest campus in... Read More

biology phd us

  • # 6 in Best Universities for Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • # 15 in Best Global Universities

The University of Pennsylvania, also known as Penn, was founded in 1740. The private, Ivy League institution is located... Read More

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  • # 7 in Best Universities for Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • # 10 in Best Global Universities

Johns Hopkins University is a private institution that was founded in 1876. The school has campuses located in and... Read More

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  • # 8 in Best Universities for Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • # 20 in Best Global Universities

The University of California—San Diego is a public institution that was established in 1960. It is located in the La... Read More

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  • # 9 in Best Universities for Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • # 21 in Best Global Universities

Cornell University is a private institution that was founded in 1865. The Ivy League school is located in Ithaca, New... Read More

  • # 11 in Best Universities for Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • # 46 in Best Global Universities

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    The Biology Ph.D. program is part of the larger Biosciences community at Stanford, which includes doctorate programs in the basic science departments at Stanford Medical School. There are two tracks within the Biology Ph.D. program: Cell, Molecular and Organismal Biology. Ecology and Evolution. (Previously a part of the Department of Biology ...

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  25. USF graduate programs ranked among the nation's best by U.S. News

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  26. MEB Students Awarded 2024 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

    MEB Students Awarded 2024 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships - Marine and Environmental Biology. 2024 NSF GRFP Fellows. Hasti Asrari ('23) Maya Isabel Gomez ('22) Bernadeth Tolentino ('22) <<No image available>>. Honorable Mention. Daria Di Blasi ('22) USC Dornsife Marine and Environmental Biology.

  27. American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology honors MD/PhD

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  28. Ph.D. Funding

    Students with assistantships are paid their salaries through bi-monthly (i.e., twice monthly) pay checks from the Stanford Payroll Office. The normal pay days are the 7th and the 22nd of every month. Student assistantship salary is taxable income, and applicable taxes and deductions will be withheld in accordance with the W-4 Tax Data form ...

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