Program of Study
The Division of Biological Sciences offers a Doctoral (Ph.D.) degree program of study in biological sciences. The Ph.D. degree program includes formal coursework, mentored research, and professional development activities.
Median years required to complete a doctorate in the Division of Biological Sciences is 5.4 years. The following are typical target deadlines for Ph.D. candidates.
- Coursework: Years 1-2
- Lab rotations: Year 1
- Qualifying Exam: Year 1
- Comprehensive Exam: Year 2
- Dissertation Research and Committee Meetings: Years 1-5
- Dissertation Defense: Year 5
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 Professional Survival Skills (BIO_SC 8050), and a course in ethics. 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 (see some sample programs of study).
Guest access to the Catalog and Schedule of Classes, from which current courses offered by the Division can be viewed, is available from myZou.
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.
The Graduate School lists additional stand-alone and degree-dependent graduate certificates available.
George Wallace, Ph.D.
Vice President, Oceans & Islands Division, American Bird Conservancy
“At MU, all of us in John Faaborg's lab were working at the interface between research and conservation, where the science of ecology was driving our thinking about how to conserve birds, especially birds that migrate between the US and Canada and the Tropics. For many of us, preparation at MU allowed us to choose paths in academia, government, or the private sector where we continue to apply and build on what we learned to conserve birds.”
Among the nation’s most prestigious scientists
James Birchler, a Curators' Professor of biological sciences, is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer.