Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Biology


The PhD in Biology is designed to provide students with advanced knowledge of research in the areas of Cell and Molecular Biology, Ecology and Evolution, Computational Biology. The Graduate Standard Committee mentors, monitors and advises all graduate students during completion of track-specific core courses. The Committee meets with students each semester to evaluate coursework, research progress, and provide advisement on course selections, first-semester mentoring, laboratory rotations, and potential thesis advisors. The Committee ultimately assists and guides graduate students toward successful completion of the Qualifying Exam and Thesis Prospectus stages of the program.

Admissions Requirements

The Admissions Committee makes recommendations for admission to the doctoral program based on the following criteria:

  • An undergraduate degree in biology or other pertinent area of science.

  • A strong foundation in chemistry (general and organic) and physics.

  • Completion of one year of mathematics, preferably calculus.

  • A grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better.

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores in 50 percentile or better. The subject test in Biology is recommended, but not required. All applicants whose primary language is not English are required to submit their test scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

  • All undergraduate and graduate transcripts.

  • Three (3) letters of recommendation.

  • Some indication that research potential exists, either from previous work or letters of recommendation.·

Bridge Program: To ensure academic success in their graduate studies, students may be required to take additional undergraduate or graduate courses before beginning graduate curricula. Such courses are not counted toward degree requirements.

Degree Requirements

Students are expected to successfully complete all of the core and elective credits taken within the graduate program. Course work provides the formal foundation upon which a successful dissertation project and thesis defense is built. To remain in good standing, a GPA of 3.0 or better must be maintained for all courses taken as part of the graduate course of study.   

  • Total Required Course Credits:  36 credits.

  • Successful Completion of Qualifying Exam.

  • Total Required Research Credits:  36 credits.

  • Successful Defense of Dissertation.

Program Requirements and Procedures

The doctoral curriculum in biology is divided into three areas of study. Each has a set of required courses that provide a formal foundation in research fields covered in that area. Students must earn at least a grade of 3.0 in order to receive credit for core courses. The remainder of the course work is chosen in consultation between the student and the advisor and the Standards Committee with permission of the graduate program director. Detailed program information can be found at the links below in each area of study:   

»  Cell and Molecular Biology      »  Ecology and Evolution       »  Computational Neuroscience



General Credit and Course Distribution:

  • 9 Credits         (3 courses)         Three Biology Graduate Program Core Courses

  • 9 Credits         (3 courses)         Three Track Specific Core Courses

  • 6 Credits         (2 courses)         Two Semester-Long Laboratory Rotations

  • 12 Credits                                  Elective Courses (can be taken at NJIT, Rutgers, UMDNJ)

  • 36 Credits                                  Doctoral Dissertation Research


Biology Program Core Courses ~ 9 Credits

  • Effective College Teaching (26:120:560)

  • Critical Thinking for Life Sciences (BIOL 630)

  • Approaches in Quantitative Analysis in Life Sciences (MATH 615 or equivalent by approval)

Track-Specific Core Courses ~ 9 Credits

  • Program Track in Cell Biology

    • Cell, Molecular, & Developmental Biology (26:120:524)

    • Molecular Biology of Eukaryotes (26:120:515)

    • Biochemistry (26:120:581)

  • Program Track in Ecology and Evolution

    • Biodiversity (26:120:523)

    • Evolution (BIOL 622)

    • Ecophysiology (26:120:593)

  • Program Track in Computational Neuroscience

    • Foundations of Mathematical Biology (MATH 637)

    • Analytical & Computational Neuroscience (MATH 635) or
      Systems Computational Neuroscience (MATH 636)

    • Cellular Systems Neuroscience (BIOL 698)

Research Laboratory Rotations ~ 6 Credits

  • Advanced Problems in Biology (26:120:509)

  • Advanced Problems in Biology (26:120:510)

Elective Courses ~ 12 Credits

  • Elective course offerings may be taken from the following graduate programs:

    • NJIT -- Applied Mathematics, Physics, Biomedical Engineering, and Computer Science.

    • Rutgers University, Newark -- Biology, Environmental Sciences, Integrative Neuroscience, and Chemistry.

    • UMDNJ -- Program in Biomedical Sciences.

    • Rutgers University, New Brunswick and Camden -- various programs.·

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