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PhD in Biology @ Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, USA


Program Description

Become an expert in collecting, analyzing, interpreting and presenting data through extensive research; advanced training; and an integrative, interdisciplinary, and evolutionary approach.

Degree requirements

To obtain this degree, you take the following 60 credit hours of coursework:

  • 45 units beyond the bachelor’s degree, covering the major principles of biological sciences
  • 15 units or more BIO 799 to research, write and defend your dissertation

Additional requirements

You must also:

  • have a reading knowledge of one foreign language or skill in statistics
  • perform satisfactorily on a comprehensive exam in your fifth semester
  • fulfill Northern Arizona University’s residency requirements
  • pass the oral exam on your dissertation

This doctoral degree allows advanced students to pursue their content and research skills while studying under faculty specialists in microbiology, botany, genetics, bioinformatics, human biology, ecology, and zoology. The program is enhanced by advanced research facilities that include the Deaver Herbarium, the Electron Microscope Facility, and the nationally prominent Microbial Genetic and Genomics Center, home to powerful research into anthrax, plague, and other bacterial-disease-causing infections.


What Can I Do with a Doctor of Philosophy in Biology?

The Doctor of Philosophy program provides advanced training in research through focused coursework and extensive research experience, using an integrative, interdisciplinary, and evolutionary approach. Students will develop expertise in collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and presenting data at a level appropriate to the profession.


University Requirements

To receive a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D.) at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses, from one or more disciplines, ranging from at least 60-109 units of graduate-level courses. Most plans require research, a dissertation, and comprehensive exams. All plans have residency requirements regarding time spent on the Flagstaff campus engaged in full-time study.


In addition to University Requirements:

Complete individual plan requirements.


Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
  • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = “A”), or the equivalent.
  • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
  • Transcripts
  • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
  • International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy

Individual program admission requirements include:

  • GRE® revised General Test
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay
  • All applicants are expected to make email contact with potential faculty members in the department BEFORE APPLYING. Applicants should only apply if a mentor agrees to support the applicant.
  • Knowledge of biology at the baccalaureate level

One of the following:

  • An earned thesis-based MS degree in a biological or related science
  • Demonstrated research ability by being a responsible author on a scientific, peer-reviewed publication (journal article)
  • Have equivalent credentials to above, which may include considerable relevant research experience, average GRE scores above the 70th national percentile in Verbal, Quantitative and Writing Ability, experience presenting scientific papers as an author at regional, national or international scientific meetings, with reference letters attesting to the student’s performance and responsibility for the science reported at such venues


Take the following 60 units:

  • Coursework, beyond the bachelor’s degree, covering the major principles of biology (45 units)
  • BIO 799, for the research, writing, and oral defense of an approved dissertation (15 units)

Please note that you may count only 15 units of dissertation credit toward your degree. However, experience tells us that our doctoral students in Biology end up taking an average of 36 units. This is due to the requirement that you register for BIO 799 for each semester during which you work on your dissertation.


In addition, we require that you:

  • Have a reading knowledge of one foreign language or skill in statistics
  • Perform satisfactorily on a comprehensive exam in your fifth semester
  • Fulfill Northern Arizona University’s residency requirements. (For more information about residency and other requirements that pertain to this degree, see Doctoral Requirements Policy.)
  • Pass the oral exam on your dissertation (Dissertation Defense)

Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.

February 2020

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DEPARTMENT OF BIOTECHNOLOGYMinistry of Science &Technology, Govt. of India DBT-Junior Research Fellowship (DBT-JRF) in Biotechnology (2020) BIOTECHNOLOGY ELIGIBILITY TEST (BET) 2020 Applications are invited from bonafide Indian citizens, residing in … Continue Reading DBT Junior Research Fellowship Programme (DBT – JRF) – BIOTECHNOLOGY ELIGIBILITY TEST (BET – 2020)



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