2003 - 2005 Site Archive



Graduate Bulletin

Biology, Ph.D.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines
Application Deadline:

Fall: April 15

Spring: November 15

Applicants wishing to be considered for University Fellowships for the fall term must have a completed application on file by late December.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 3

From Whom: Letters should be from a college/university faculty members (preferably in laboratory science areas) familiar with academic and/or research abilities.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

All applicants must present credentials that are the equivalent of hte appropriate baccalaureate degree at Temple University.

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:


Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

Yes. Biology, and certain other sciences. Applicants should have a solid background in biology, as well as one year each of organic chemistry, physics and calculus.

Statement of Goals:

The statement of goals should include your future goals, academic and research, and previous achievements.

Standardized Test Scores:

The GRE is required. Admission guidelines include a minimum score of 550 in both the quantitative and analytical sections of the GRE exam.

Minimum TOEFL score or range of scores needed to be accepted:
600 on the paper-based test or 250 on the computer-based test.

Advanced Standing:

Certain courses, taken previously, may translate into graduate credit. Contact the department for further information. The maximum number of advanced standing credits awarded is 6.

Program Requirements
Campus Location:

Main Campus

Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

Students are required to complete the degree program through classes offered before 4:30 p.m.

General Program Requirements:

Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Master's: 16

Required Courses:

Bio 473 and Bio 703. The Bio 473 requirement may be satisfied with a previous course in Biochemistry at the discretion of the Department Graduate Committee. A student seeking this credit must petition the Department Graduate Committee.

Students must complete and pass a minimum of four graduate level courses with grades of "B-" or better. These must include Biochemistry together with one core course from each of the 3 areas in the department. The areas include - Molecular Biology and Genetics: Bio 410, Bio 415, Bio 422, Bio 428, Bio 429, Bio 463, Bio 474, Bio 476, Bio 479, and Bio 489. Physiology, Behavior and Neurobiology: Bio 415, Bio 416, Bio 452, Bio 454, Bio 456, Bio 470, and Bio 481. Cell and Developmental Biology: Bio 429, Bio 430, Bio 440, Bio 464, Bio 465, Bio 471, and Bio 484. The area requirement that a particular course fulfills must be stipulated at the time of registration. In addition, students must complete 5 three-credit graduate seminars. Students must enroll in a one-credit seminar in each semester that either Bio 703 or a three-credit seminar is not taken. All graduate level courses must be passed with a B- or better.

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: No language examination is required.

Additional Requirements:

All Ph.D. candidates must have experience teaching at Temple University. There is a minimum teaching requirement of 2 semesters that may be satisfied by serving as a Teaching Assistant in the Biology Department.

Attendance at scheduled departmental colloquia is required.

Culminating Events:

Preliminary Examination:
The student will independently prepare a written proposal on research in one of the specializations in the graduate program. The research proposal should be a description of independent research (not necessarily the anticipated dissertation topic) and should have a format similar to a grant application, (see below). The proposal should not exceed 10 pages in length. The tentative research advisor shall not make direct contributions to the brief. If the written proposal is accepted, an oral examination will be held within 2 weeks. The sections of the written proposal should include: Title; Abstract (not to exceed 300 words); Specific Aims; Background and Significance; Preliminary Data; Experimental Design (including Rationale, Specific Methods, Interpretation of Possible Results, and Pitfalls and Alternative Strategies), References (PNAS format). One rewrite is allowed. The oral examination will test the student's grasp and understanding of 1) his/her area of specialization, and 2)

Subject Areas/Major Components of the Preliminary Examination The approved areas for all students are: a. Cell Biology/Developmental Biology b. Neurobiology/Physiology/Ecology c. Genetics/Molecular Biology/Biochemistry

At what point in the program is the student expected to take the preliminary examination? The student is to designate the area and submit the written proposal to the Graduate Committee by April 1st in the student's fourth semester.

Writing the Questions for the Preliminary Examination The preliminary examination shall be administered by an examination committee drawn from the appropriate area committee(s) in the absence of the research advisor. There shall be a minimum of 3 examiners for each examination committee.

Evaluating the Preliminary Examination The Area Committee has 2 weeks in which to review the written proposal and the student will be allowed only 1 re-write. If the proposal is not accepted after the first re-write the student is considered to have failed the exam. If the written proposal is accepted, an oral examination will be held within 2 weeks. The full exam, both written and oral, will be graded by the Examination Committee, and one of the following grades assigned: Fail, Promising, Pass, High Pass, Pass with Distinction. The student will be notified of the grade the day the exam is taken. A passing grade requires a 2/3 majority in the examination committee. The grade of Promising specifies that an exam must be retaken. Examinations which are to be retaken must be completed before October 1 of the following academic year.

Criterion for Passing the Preliminary Examination The evaluators look for (a) a breadth and depth of understanding of specific research areas, (b) a critical application of that knowledge to specific biological phenomena; and (c) an ability to write a proposal in a manner consistent with scientists in the students specialization.

Administering, Scheduling, and Proctoring the Preliminary Examination
Once the written thesis proposal is accepted by the student's Preliminary Exam Committee, an oral exam is scheduled through the Graduate Secretary. Oral preliminary exams should occur within 2 weeks of acceptance of the writtten proposal.


Dissertation Advising Committee Information The Dissertation Advising Committee will include a minimum of four members, three from department (includes advisor) and one from outside the department. Departmental members must be of graduate or equivalent research faculty and are chosen by the student and advisor. The committee is to be formed within 2 to 3 months after successful completion of Qualifying Examination, except for the outside member who may be chosen just prior to the Preliminary Dissertation Defense.

Dissertation Examining Committee Information A minimum of four members, three from department (includes advisor), one from outside the department; departmental members must be of graduate or equivalent research faculty; chosen by the student and advisor. To be formed within 2 to 3 months after successful completion of Qualifying Examination, except for the outside member who may be chosen just prior to the Preliminary Thesis Defense.

Advisor/Committee Information The student may petition the Departmental Graduate Committee to change an advisor or committee member.

Dissertation/Monograph Philosophy:
The Doctoral Dissertation is an original empirical study that demonstrates the student's knowledge of research methods and mastery of her/his primary area of research.

Philosophy of the Proposal:
The dissertation proposal demonstrates the student's knowledge of and ability to conduct the proposed research. The proposal should follow the general format of a postdoctoral proposal to a federal granting agency (e.g., NIH). It is limited to 10 pages and should include background surrounding a particular research problem, including literature related to the problem; and (b) a detailed methodological plan for investigating the problem.

Criterion for Passing the Dissertation and the Defense:
The Preliminary Dissertation Defense is to be an open defense (faculty and graduate students are invited) conducted significantly in advance of writing of the final draft of the dissertation, and administered by the entire Examining Committee, (including the outside member). This is to be arranged by the dissertation advisor, and the results reported to the Chairman of the Graduate Committee and the Chairman of the Department in writing, signed by committee members. The Final Doctoral Examination shall consist of a formal departmental colloquium open to the public, but conducted by the Doctoral Advisory Committee. The outside examiner need not be present. The student will meet with the Examining Committee after the colloquium for a final defense. The penultimate version of the thesis must be approved by the Advisory Committee at least two weeks before the Graduate School deadline. The deadline is set by the Graduate School early in each semester.

Dissertation Defense Scheduling:
The scheduling of the final dissertation defense is to be arranged by the dissertation advisor, who must notify the Graduate School at least 10 working days in advance.

Announcing the Dissertation Defense:
Announcements of the Dissertation Defense are posted around the Biology Department and via e-mail or listserv.

Program Contact Information:


Department Information:

Dept. of Biology

255 Biology Life Sciences Building
1900 N. 12th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122


Department Contacts:


Richard Waring

Program Coordinator:


Graduate Chairperson:

Richard Waring


Shohreh Amini

About the Program

The Ph.D. in Biology offers students rigorous advanced study of biological sciences. Broad preparation is offered in major research areas in biology through a variety of formal courses and advanced seminars, and students are encouraged to take courses in related sciences. Preparation for both research and teaching is important.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 7 years

Campus Location:

Main Campus

Students are required to complete the degree program through classes offered before 4:30 p.m.

Department Information:

Dept. of Biology

255 Biology Life Sciences Building
1900 N. 12th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122



Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Areas of Specialization:

Faculty members specialize in the following areas: cell biology, neurobiology, genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, virology, aquatic ecology.

Job Placement:

The Department produces well-trained biologists who find work in the health professions, the pharmaceutical or biotechnology fields, government, and academia.


Not applicable.

Interdisciplinary Study:

The program encourages interdisciplinary research and coursework in biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics. Special interdisciplinary programs in which faculty from the Biology Department participate include the Center for Neurovirology and Cancer Research; the Neuroscience Program; and the Environmental Studies Program.

Study Abroad:



Not applicable.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

Non-matriculated students may enroll in a total of three courses with permission of the instructor and the department.

Financing Opportunities

Teaching Assistant (TA): The principal duties of a teaching assistant include assisting faculty members in classroom, field and laboratory instruction, preparing material for demonstration, conducting tutorials and laboratory sections, and grading labs, quizzes and tests. Attendance at weekly laboratory preparation sessions is required. Research Assistant (RA): The duties of a Research Assistant vary depending on the faculty member or principal investigator who is directing a specific research project. The appropriate projects are determined by consultation between the student and the student's research and academic advisors. Research Assistants are expected to devote 20 hours per week to research obligations. Both Teaching and Research Assistantships carry a nine-month academic-year stipend and full-tuition remission (up to nine credits). Summer stipends are also available. Assistantships are awarded competitively.

Other Financial Opportunities