Biology (Biology and Society), PhD

Within our biology PhD, you may concentrate in an area where “biology intersects with society” – to learn how biosciences shape and are shaped by societal values and traditions.

In this concentration, you can tailor your program to meet your specific interests, and at the same time, receive a solid life science foundation.

The Biology and Society concentration draws from many areas to help you develop critical thinking and analytical skills. You may further specialize in one of three tracks:

Bioethics, Policy, and Law (BPL)

This track focuses on pressing moral, policy and legal issues raised by biosciences and biomedicine, and on the methods needed to address them.

History and Philosophy of Science (HPS)

This track focuses on the conceptual foundations of science, including the epistemological and methodological assumptions that shape science.

Ecology, Economics, and Ethics of the Environment (4E)

This track focuses on the theory and empirical methods for understanding, analyzing, and shaping policy that steer us toward a more productive, equitable and sustainable ecological future.

Graduates of this program frequently begin careers in higher education, research and administration, science communication and other areas related to the life sciences.

This PhD research degree culminates in a dissertation, which must draw on multiple disciplinary perspectives grounded in life sciences.

Degree Requirements

84 hours. At least 24 hours are for research study and dissertation. 30 hours may be transferred from an appropriate masters degree. The remaining hours should focus on areas relevant to your selected concentration track. Your advisory committee must approve all coursework.

Bioethics, Policy, and Law track

Core Courses

  • 3 hours – Ethics (as related to life sciences)
  • 3 hours – Science policy
  • 3 hours – Law (as related to science or technology)
  • 3-4 hours — Research Prospectus Writing or Biometry

Additional courses related to life sciences

  • 9 hours

Other research, seminars and readings courses

  • 38-39 hours (including research methods, as appropriate)

Dissertation

  • 12 hours – Research
  • 12 hours – Dissertation

Total: 84 hours
Contact: BPL Director Karin Ellison

History and Philosophy of Science track

Core Courses

  • 3 hours – History of Science
  • 3 hours – Philosophy of Science
  • 3 hours – Supporting coursework in History or Philosophy (e.g. logic, decision theory, epistemology, environmental history)
  • 3-4 hours — Research Prospectus Writing or Biometry

Additional courses related to life sciences

  • 9 hours

Other research, seminars and readings courses

  • 38-39 hours (including research methods, as appropriate)

Dissertation

  • 12 hours – Research
  • 12 hours – Dissertation

Total: 84 hours
Contact: HPS Director Richard Creath

Ecology, Economics, and Ethics of the Environment (4E) track

Core Courses

  • 3 hours – Ecology
  • 3 hours – Environmental or Natural Resource Economics
  • 3 hours – Environmental Ethics or Environmental Policy
  • 3-4 hours — Research Prospectus Writing or Biometry

Additional courses related to life sciences

  • 9 hours

Other research, seminars and readings courses

  • 38-39 hours (including research methods, as appropriate)

Dissertation

  • 12 hours – Research
  • 12 hours – Dissertation

Total: 84 hours
Contact: 4E Director Charles Perrings

Application Deadline

Applications are accepted Oct. 1 - Dec. 15, with a preference date of Dec. 1.
The Biology and Society PhD program admits one group of students annually to start their program in the following August. 

There is no guarantee that applications received after Dec. 15 will be reviewed. In January, the top applicants will be invited to a recruitment event scheduled in mid- to late-February. 

Before applying, we encourage you to read our Tips for Applying.

We will notify you of your admissions status by April 15. 

Desired qualifications:

  • Research experience 
  • Undergraduate GPA minimum 3.0 (on 4.0 scale)
  • GRE scores: 50% Verbal and 70% Quantitative 
  • International students: TOEFL score of 100, or IELTS score of 6.5

Note: Your application is evaluated based on your entire application package.

To apply, follow the How and When to Apply link below.

 You will be asked to:

  1. Review the university standards, degree program timelines and application requirements
  2. Complete the graduate admission application
  3. Send official transcripts, general GRE scores (biology subject GRE not required) and language tests (international students only) to graduate admissions services
  4. Submit a writing sample
  5. Fill out the academic record form and upload it 
  6. Submit a non-refundable application fee

Degree Offered

Biology (Biology and Society), PhD
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of

Location
Tempe

Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study

Application Deadlines

Applications for Fall 2019 accepted:  Oct. 1-Dec. 15, 2018
Priority deadline:  Dec. 1, 2018

Financial Support for Graduate Education

More information on financial support through the School of Life Sciences.

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