Graduate Degree Requirements

The Division of Biological Sciences offers a Master's (M.A.) and Doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees in biological sciences. Both degree programs include formal coursework, mentored research, and professional development activities.


The program for the M.A. degree must be completed within a period of three (3) years, and the program for the Ph.D. degree must be completed within a period of five (5) years beginning with the first semester of enrollment in which the student is accepted to a degree program. 


The Graduate School requires a minimum of 72 credit hours for completion of the Doctoral degree. Fifteen (15) of the 72 hours are composed of formal coursework at the 8000 or 9000 level, including the courses listed below.

  • BIO_SC 8050, Professional Survival Skills (2 cr)
  • BIO_SC 8060, Ethical Conduct of Research (1 cr)
  • BIO_SC 8087, Departmental Seminar (1 cr/semester, 10 total)
  • BIO_SC 8187, Graduate Seminar (1 cr/semester, 6 total)

The remainder of the 72 hours is made up of seminars and thesis research. Otherwise, students design their program of study based on their research interest and in consultation with their faculty advisor.

Research Rotations

Graduate students are encouraged to complete research rotations in two to three labs during their first year of training. Rotations, which may last between two to four months, are designed to acquaint students with the diverse research strengths in the Division and the different techniques of established investigators in different areas of biology. Students, in consultation with faculty, choose the specific labs in which they want to do a rotation. Rotations can be done in labs of adjunct faculty members both on and off campus.


Doctoral students are required to take and pass a Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam.

Teaching Experience and Training

Graduate students are encouraged, but not required, to gain teaching experience as part of their graduate program of study. Teaching assistantships are available to support teaching efforts.

The Division of Biological Science offers College Science Teaching (Bio_Sc 8724), a graduate-level course that addresses learner characteristics, teaching strategies, and research findings related to teaching science at the post-secondary level. Students with a strong interest in teaching have the option of obtaining a Minor in College Teaching from the Graduate School’s Preparing Future Faculty program.

Additional Certifications

Students can obtain a number of additional graduate-level certifications, including in Conservation Biology, Neuroscience, Life Science Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Science Outreach. The Graduate School lists additional stand-alone and degree-dependent graduate certificates available.


Dr. Manuel Leal
Professor of Biological Sciences
Director of Graduate Studies
(573) 882-1360

Melody Kroll
Staff support
(573) 884-4144