Biology, PhD

Our biology PhD program offers research and coursework that cover the full breadth of today’s biology whether it is at the molecular, organismic or ecosystem level. This program specifically benefits from the broad spectrum of courses offered by the multidisciplinary School of Life Sciences

To provide the greatest flexibility in your individual program, you may choose to focus on a single research area or on the integration of different disciplines. Our program is suited for traditional approaches, as well as those that don't easily fit into more specialized life science degree programs at ASU.

One of this program's greatest strengths is its flexibility. 

With 80 laboratories and 80 faculty members participating in our program, our students have the support of a wide range of experts in the life sciences. You'll be able to choose from research projects in diverse areas such as medicine, ecology, physiology, evolution, behavior and botany. Once you've decided on a research path, you'll work side-by-side with award-winning faculty who are innovative leaders in their respective fields. 

You'll design your own study program to prepare for future needs in the job market. Besides our one core course, you'll choose from a broad spectrum of courses, making our multidisciplinary school's program one of the most flexible PhD degrees in the United States.

ASU has been named as one of the top 100 most powerful global universities for research and teaching. Our students receive unparalleled support from their mentors and advisory committees during their college careers. Your mentors will help prepare you for a changing job market and you'll leave this program with honed critical-thinking and research skills. 

A PhD in biology will provide a great foundation, as well as flexibility, to work in many fields including research, teaching in higher education, science communications, laboratory work, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, consulting, policy, medicine and much more.

1 core course
80 research labs
80 faculty members

Degree Overview

This flexible program offers individualized courses of study tailored to your interests and will include laboratory, field and theoretical work. Only one core class is required, which is a choice between two topics that cover the breadth of the research directions in this program.

Electives are also flexible and include areas outside of biology. 84 total credit hours are required. You will be able to create an adaptable and general degree that allows both traditional and interdisciplinary approaches in any area of biology.

How to apply

The biology PhD program admits one group of students annually to start their program in the fall semester, the following August. Before applying, we encourage you to read our Tips for Applying. 

To apply, follow the Apply Now link.
You will be asked to:

  • Review university standards, degree program timelines and application requirements
  • Complete graduate admission application
  • Send official transcripts, general GRE scores and language tests (international students only)
  • Complete academic record form and upload it 
  • Submit a non-refundable application fee 

Application deadline
Applications are accepted Oct. 1 - Dec. 15, with a preference date of Dec. 1. 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. 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: We encourage you to apply even if your GRE results do not meet the desired scores. We consider all components of your application package before making a decision.

100%
We guarantee 5 years of academic-year funding as a teaching or research assistant. This includes stipend, insurance and tuition support to cover the required 84 hours for the degree.

The biology PhD program accommodates each student’s individual visions for their degree.

—Jacob Youngblood, current Biology PhD student

Curriculum

The focus of the program is research. You will work with an advisor and your committee to develop a program of study that includes the required coursework and hours of research training. By the end of the sixth semester, you will be required to submit a written research proposal and pass an oral examination, which are the two components of the comprehensive examination. For graduation, you will be requested to submit a doctoral dissertation and defend the thesis in a public lecture, as well as complete an oral examination administered by your supervisory committee. 

Required

 Credit Hours

Core courses

3-4

Elective courses

5-57 (min. 5-6 credit hours required)

Research

12-63

Dissertation

12

Total hours required

84

Courses and electives

To provide the highest level of flexibility in the biology program, only one core course is required. Other required coursework is based on your individual preferences. Electives are not restricted to BIO courses and should be chosen in close collaboration with your supervisory committee to provide the best possible training in a more traditional or highly integrative plan of study.

One of the two options:

  • BIO 614 Biometry (4)
  • BIO 620 Research Prospective Writing (3)

Seminars or classes at the 400, 500, 600 or 700 level (not restricted to BIO) may be taken for your elective requirements. No more than three semester hours may be taken at the 400 level. A minimum of 5-6 credit hours of elective coursework is required.

Sample courses include:

  • BIO 411  Quantitative Methods in Conservation Biology and Ecology (3)
  • BIO 415  Biometry (4)
  • BIO 423  Population and Community Ecology (3)
  • BIO 436  Sociobiology and Behavioral Ecology (3)
  • BIO 461  Comparative Animal Physiology (3)
  • BIO 462  Endocrine Physiology (3)
  • BIO 465  Neurophysiology (3)
  • BIO 467  Neurobiology (3)
  • BIO 503  Bioimaging Lab (2)
  • BIO 504  Bioimaging (2)
  • BIO 522  Populations: Evolutionary Ecology (3)
  • BIO 561  Environmental Physiology (3)
  • BIO 614  Biometry (4)
  • PSY 420  Analysis of Behavior (3)
  • PSY 424  Genetic Psychology (3)
  • PSY 426  Neuroanatomy (4)
  • PSY 434  Cognitive Psychology (3)
  • PSY 512  Advanced Learning (3)
  • PSY 515  Quantitative Research Methodology and Statistics 1 (3)
  • PSY 526  Neuroanatomy (4)
  • PSY 528  Sensation and Perception (3)
  • PSY 530  Intermediate Statistics (3)
  • PSY 531  Multiple Regression in Psychological Research (3)
  • PSY 532  Analysis of Multivariate Data (3)
  • ASM 401  Health and Human Biology (4)
  • ASM 443/543  Primatology (3)
  • ASM 525  Primate Paleobiology (3)
  • CHM 460  Biological Chemistry (3)
  • KIN 412/512  Biomechanics of the Skeletal System (3)
  • KIN 414  Electromyographic Kinesiology (3)
  • KIN 440  Exercise Biochemistry (3)
  • KIN 443/533  Exercise Endocrinology (3)
  • KIN 522  Exercise Psychology (3)
  • MAT 450 Mathematical Models in Biology (3)
  • MAT 451  Mathematical Modeling (3)
  • MAT 591  Topic: Math Biology (3)
  • PLB 419/519  Physiological Plant Ecology (3)
  • STP 530  Applied Regression (3)
  • STP 531  Applied Analysis of Variance (3)
  • STP 532 Applied Nonparametric Statistics (3)

ABS

560

Ecological Modeling

ANB

602

Current Issues in Behavior

ASM

591

Seminar: Dynamic Modeling

BCH

561

Adv Topics in Biochemistry

BDE

702

Biological Design II

BIO

412

Conservation in Practice

BIO

423

Population & Community Ecology

BIO

451

Cell Biotechnology Laboratory

BIO

465

Neurophysiology

BIO

494

Special Topics: Ecological Stoichiometry

BIO

502

Trans Electron Microscopy

BIO

503

Bioimaging Lab

BIO

504

Bioimaging

BIO

519

Physiological Plant Ecology

BIO

521

Landscape Ecology

BIO

530

Scientific Teaching

BIO

531

Advanced Science Teaching

BIO

545

Populations Evolution Genetics

BIO

549

Phylogenetic Biology & Analysis

BIO

568

Stress and the Brain

BIO

584

Internship: Biology Teaching Internship

BIO

591

Seminar: Math for Life and Sustainability Science

BIO

591

Scientific Teaching

BIO

591

Seminar: Insect Physiology

BIO

591

Seminar: Artistic Exps of Orig Research

BIO

591

Seminar: Parasites and Their Relatives

BIO

591

Seminar: Science Communication

BIO

591

Seminar: Evolutionary Psychology

BIO

594

Conference and Workshop: Crowd Funding Graduate Research

BIO

598

Special Topics: Physiological Ecology

BIO

598

Special Topics: Ecosystem Ecology

BIO

598

Special Topics: Bayesian Modeling for Life Sciences

BIO

598

Special Topics: Biology Education Research

BIO

598

Special Topics: Obsty: Physio Pathphysio Treatment

BIO

598

Special Topics: Genetics & Genomics Behavior

BIO

598

Special Topics: Plant Div & Evolution for Grads

BIO

598

Special Topics: Stress and the Brain

BIO

598

Special Topics: Honey Bee Biology & Apiculture

BIO

598

Special Topics: Writing a NSF-GRFP

BIO

610

Introduction Responsible Conduct Research

BIO

611

Topics Responsible Conduct Research: Big Data & Ethics Life Sciences

BIO

611

Topics Responsible Conduct Research: Intellectual Property Life

BIO

591

Seminar: NIH Grant Writing

BIO

598

Special Topics: Molecular Basis Diabetes Obesity

COE

501

Introduction to Research/Evaluation in Education

COE

502

Introduction to Data Analysis

COE

503

Introduction to Qualitative Research

EDP

552

Multiple Regression/Correlation Math

EVO

520

Emerging Infectious Diseases

EVO

601

Principles of Evolution

EVO

610

Research Areas of Evolution

EXW

538

Obesity, Exercise and Health

EXW

598

Special Topics: Obesity Perspectives & Prescription

GPH

598

Special Topics: Plant Geography

GPH

598

Special Topics: Biotic Distributions

GRD

598

Special Topics: Graduate K-12 Education

MIC

598

Special Topics: Immunology: Molecular and Cell Foundations

MIC

598

Special Topics: Advanced Immunology

MIC

598

Special Topics: General Virology

PLB

591

Seminar: Plant Biology

PLB

598

Special Topics: Sonoran Desert Field Botany

PSY

530

Intermed Statistics

SOS

591

International Development Theories & Practices

SOS

591

Seminar: Agent-Based Modeling for Sustainability

STP

530

Theory/Statistic Linear Models

STP

530

Applied Regression Analysis

STP

531

Applied Analysis of Variance

  • BIO 799 Dissertation

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