Graduate Program in Biology

Application to the program

The online application is on the Graduate Student Services website:

Student stipends

All graduate students in good academic standing receive a full stipend ($31,794 in 2017-2018 for 12-mo.), tuition remission, basic health insurance, and a dependency allowance, when applicable. All graduate students are teaching assistants (about 12 hours/week) for three semesters. They are supported as research or teaching assistants for the remainder of their stay in the program.

Laboratory research rotations

Graduate students start their research experience with two or more semester-long rotations in laboratories. These are designed to provide complementing experiences to prepare students for their thesis research.  Research projects are available in the following areas:

Coursework and journal clubs

Working with the First Year Advisory committee, graduate students design their own program of courses to complement and strengthen their previous background knowledge.

Each student participates in one of the journal clubs in which recent journal articles are presented and discussed. Three journal clubs meet weekly over lunch:

1. Ecology/Evolution
2. Cell/Development/Genetics
3. Neuroscience/Behavior

Qualifier Exam

Towards the end of their second year, students prepare for and sit for the qualifier exam. Passing of this exam permits students to formally become Ph.D. candidates. The exam includes the writing of a research proposal and an oral examination.


Students are advised by the First Year Advisory committee, their first year faculty mentor, and their lab practica mentors. After passing their qualifying examination, students set up a thesis committee of four faculty members which meets annually to discuss research progress and provide advice.

Research presentations

All graduate students present their research in bi-weekly seminars attended by all members of the department, to encourage students to become fluent and comfortable with their presentation skills.