Doctor of Philosophy
The primary goal of the department's doctoral program is to develop
independent, creative research scientists. 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.
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 Ph.D. 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 or Biology 244, Topics in
Evolutionary Ecology). Recommended programs of study and relevant
courses can be found on the web pages for each of the six
Graduate credit for a course requires a grade of B- or better. A
list of biology department undergraduate and graduate courses can be
found by selecting the Courses button from the sidebar.
Most students complete the requirement for teaching experience in
the first year by serving as paid teaching assistants in
undergraduate courses for two semesters.
Throughout the year, graduate students benefit from a variety of
seminars on current research that are presented by faculty, other
graduate students, and invited speakers.
Students are formally admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. based upon
satisfactory performance in course work, research, and teaching
activities, and upon successful completion of a two-part qualifying
procedure. The first part is a written comprehensive examination
generally taken at the end of the second year. The second part is
the writing and oral defense of a research proposal that is expected
to be the basis of the student's doctoral thesis. After qualifying,
usually by the beginning of the third year, the principal
requirements for the Ph.D. are the completion of original and
publishable research and the preparation and defense of a thesis
dissertation based upon that research.