Baylor University
Department of Biology
College of Arts and Sciences

Baylor > Biology > Graduate Programs > Ph.D. Degree > Ph.D in Biology Degree Requirements
Ph.D in Biology Degree Requirements

Beginning Fall 1994, our department initiated the Doctor of Philosophy program in its subdisciplines of greatest strength: limnology and aquatic biology, terrestrial ecology, and genetics.

  1. Course workA minimum of 78 semester hours beyond the bachelor's degree, including at least 36 hours of course work. These 36 hours must include the following core of 12 hours:
    • Biometrics (Bio 5412),
    • 4 semester hours of Research Methods in Biology (Bio 5201 and 5202), and
    • at least 4 hours of Biology Seminar (Bio 5100) and/or Biomedical Studies Seminar (BMS 5100).

    The remaining 24 hours of required course work will be selected and assigned by the student's advisory/dissertation committee. At least 12 hours of this 24 hours of course work must be at the 5000/6000 level; as many as 12 hours of course work at the 4000 level can be applied to the Ph.D. No course work at the 1000, 2000, or 3000 levels will count toward the Ph.D.

    At least 12 of the remaining 42 semester hours must be dissertation research (Bio 6V99) leading to an approved dissertation. A maximum of 42 semester hours of dissertation research (Bio 6V99) can be applied toward the Ph.D. However, much of the 30 hour difference between minimum 12 hours and the maximum 42 hours of dissertation research (Bio 6V99) will often be satisfied through additional advanced course work.

  2. Courses Outside the Major Field—Ordinarily, all courses used to complete the course requirements must be in Biology. However, appropriate courses from other departments may be taken upon approval of the major advisor and the departmental Graduate Program Director.
  3. Residence Study—A minimum of 1 academic year of study must be undertaken in residence at Baylor.
  4. Dissertation—An original research dissertation is required for the Ph.D. degree. A written proposal of the dissertation research must be presented to (and approved by) the student's advisory committee before dissertation research can begin.
  5. Major Advisor and Advisory Committee—In consultation with the departmental Graduate Program Director, the student will select one member of the Biology graduate faculty to serve as his/her major advisor. The identity of the major advisor will have been determined during the application process. Recall that a required component of the application is a written statement from one of the Biology Department faculty members that he or she has agreed to direct your doctoral studies should you be accepted into the program.

    The major advisor will oversee the student's program of study and the dissertation research. The student and the major advisor, with approval of the departmental Graduate Program Director, will appoint an advisory committee for the student, consisting of at least four members of the graduate faculty in Biology (one of these is the major advisor) and one member of the Baylor graduate faculty from outside the Department of Biology. This committee must be appointed no later than the end of the second semester of graduate work. The advisory committee will be responsible for guiding the student in his/her academic work and for the evaluation of the comprehensive oral examination and the dissertation defense.
  6. Teaching—All doctoral students are required to fulfill a one-year teaching experience under the mentorship of a faculty member. This is usually satisfied by serving as a teaching assistant in one or more classes. However, for students not serving as teaching assistants, alternative activities involving a teaching experience may be arranged in consultation with the student's major advisor and the departmental Graduate Program Director.
  7. Seminar Requirement—Each student in the Ph.D. program must present an exit seminar to the Biology faculty on his/her dissertation research. The seminar must be presented prior to the dissertation defense.
  8. Comprehensive Oral Examination—A written and oral Ph.D. preliminary examination will be prepared by the student's advisory/dissertation committee and administered after the didactic portion of the student's program is completed. Generally, this is after approximately 40 semester hours of credit have been earned by the student. The exam will cover basic concepts in the areas of structure and function, genetics, evolution, biochemistry, and ecology, and evaluates the student's acquaintance with methods of biological investigation. Other areas may be covered at the discretion of the committee depending on the student's background and interests. If the student fails the preliminary examination for the doctoral degree, he/she may take a second examination only with the approval of the department and the Dean of the Graduate School. In no case will the examination be given until an interval of one semester has passed. After two failures, no further examination is allowed, and the student is dismissed from the program.

  9. Final Oral Exam and Defense— After completion of a doctoral dissertation, the candidate has a final oral doctoral examination involving defense of the dissertation. This is an open examination, and all members of the Biology faculty are invited to attend. All biology faculty must be notified of the examination date, time, and place at least 2 weeks prior to the examination. The examination is conducted by the Examination Committee, and other faculty may participate at the invitation of the advisory committee. The oral examination will last approximately 2 hours. At the end of the oral examination, the Examination Committee will assign a grade of "pass" or "not pass", based upon a majority vote of the Examination Committee.
  10. Grades—All graduate students in Biology are expected to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 throughout their program. Any student whose GPA falls below 3.0 will be placed on probation. The student must restore his/her GPA to 3.0 by the end of the next 9 credit hours of course work semester in order to remain in the graduate program. The student is not eligible to receive financial assistance from the University during the probationary semester.
  11. Other Requirements—The department does not have a language requirement for the Ph. D. degree. However, individual advisors and committees may require specific students to satisfy a language requirement or demonstrate special research skills.

Department of Biology