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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Biology (BIOL)

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DOUGLAS R. CAVENER, Head of the Department
208 Erwin W. Mueller Building
814-865-4562
gradinfo@email.bio.psu.edu

 

Degrees Conferred:

Ph.D., M.S.

 

The Graduate Faculty

 

The Programs

The department directs graduate programs in a broad spectrum of research areas, including bioinformatics, cell biology, developmental biology, ecology, evolution, genetics, neuroscience, phylogenetics, and physiology. The department houses the Institute of Molecular Evolutionary Genetics. The Ph.D. in Biology may be taken with an option in Molecular Evolutionary Biology, Plant Biology, or one of the Integrative Biosciences options adopted by the department (Molecular Medicine, Cell and Developmental Biology, Chemical Biology, Ecological and Molecular Plant Physiology, or Neuroscience). The courses of study are planned individually by the student and an adviser.

Admission Requirements

Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are required for admission. At the discretion of a graduate program, a student may be admitted provisionally for graduate study in a program without these scores. Requirements listed here are in addition to general Graduate School requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Admission is restricted to students who have the baccalaureate degree in a biological science and who present a cumulative undergraduate average of at least 3.00 on a scale of 4.00. Each applicant must provide a personal statement of interests and objectives and letters from three persons verifying the applicant's academic competence.

Master's Degree Requirements

Students obtaining an M.S. degree in Biology must complete course work as described in the General Information section of this bulletin, with guidance from their academic adviser. A thesis is usually required and must be defended before a faculty committee. The research must represent an original contribution, and the time allotted to it is about one year.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

The only courses required across the department are Biology 592, Critical Evaluation of Biological Literature, and Biology 590, a colloquium covering the Biology Seminar Series. Course work specific to individual plans of study are decided upon by the student in consultation with their graduate adviser and Ph.D. committee. All doctoral degree students must pass a written and oral candidacy examination that is usually administered during their third semester of study. After a student has completed all of their course work and made substantial progress on the design and execution of their thesis research, a comprehensive examination is administered by their Ph.D. committee. The Ph.D. thesis must represent a significant original contribution suitable for publication, and will usually require between two and four years of laboratory or field research. When complete the thesis must be defended before the student's graduate committee. The thesis defense is normally immediately preceded by a public presentation of the thesis research by the student.

The department awards Ph.D. degrees in Biology covering the full spectrum of subjects represented by our diverse faculty. If desired, a student may elect to pursue one of the following options as part of his/her program of study.

Molecular Evolutionary Biology option: (1) The student must meet the criteria for the M.S. or Ph.D. in Biology. (2) The student's research adviser must be a member of the Biology program and/or a full member of the Institute of Molecular Evolutionary Genetics. Other committee members may be chosen as needed providing that a majority of the committee is associated with the IMEG. (3) In addition to the normal Biology program requirements, the student must take (for both an M.S. or Ph.D. in Biology) 3 credits of course work in BIOL 591; 9 credits from among the following courses (to be selected in consultation with the student's committee): BIOL 405, BIOL 410, BIOL 422, BIOL 427, BIOL 428, BIOL 501, BIOL 504, BIOL 514, BIOL 524, BIOL 533, BIOL 542, BIOL 590. (4) Any other course work or training deemed appropriate by the student's committee.

Plant Biology option: (1) The student must meet the criteria for the M.S. or Ph.D. in Biology. (2) The student's research adviser must be a member of the Biology program. Other committee members may be chosen as needed to assure that a well-rounded graduate advisory committee is established. (3) In addition to the normal Biology program requirements, the student must take the required colloquia in the field of specialization and (for both an M.S. or Ph.D. in Biology) a minimum of 6 credits from among the following courses (to be selected in consultation with the student's committee): BIOL 410, BIOL 414, BIOL 422, BIOL 427, BIOL 441, BIOL 448, BIOL 513, BIOL 514, BIOL 515, BIOL 516, BIOL 544, BIOL 591, BIOL 597, B M B 514, HORT 444. (4) Any other course work or training deemed appropriate by the student's committee.

Integrative Biosciences options are available in Molecular Medicine, Cell and Developmental Biology, Ecological and Molecular Plant Physiology, Chemical Biology, and Neuroscience. Requirements for these options that are in addition to the basic criteria for a Ph.D. in Biology are described under Integrative Graduate Program in Biosciences in this bulletin.

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 599 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

BIOLOGY (BIOL) course list

 

DATE LAST REVIEWED BY GRADUATE SCHOOL: 5/25/04

Faculty linked: 6/5/14

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