2009 - 2010 Site Archive



Graduate Bulletin

Biology, Ph.D.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines
Application Deadline:

Fall: April 1; December 15 international

Spring: November 15; August 1 international

Applicants who desire to be considered for a University Fellowship must have a completed application on file by December 15.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 3

From Whom: Letters should be obtained from college/university faculty, preferably those in laboratory science areas, who are familiar with the applicant's academic and/or research abilities.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

Applicants should have a solid background in Biology and should have taken at least eight undergraduate Biology courses and one year each of Chemistry, Physics, and Calculus. The Department's Graduate Committee may allow departures from these course requirements after review.

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A master's degree is not required.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A baccalaureate degree in Biology or another science field is required.

Statement of Goals:

The Statement of Goals should be approximately 500-1,000 words in length and should include your interest in Temple's program, your research goals, and your academic and research achievements.

Standardized Test Scores:

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

Minimum TOEFL score needed to be accepted: 600 paper-based, 250 computer-based, or 100 internet-based.

Transfer Credit:

Graduate credits from an accredited institution may be transferred into the Biology program. The credits must be equivalent to coursework offered by the Biology Department at Temple University. A grade of "B" or better must have been earned for the credits to transfer. The Biology Department Graduate Committee makes recommendations to the Department Chair for transferring credit on an individual basis. The maximum number of credits a student may transfer is 6.

Program Requirements
General Program Requirements:

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

Required Courses:

BIO 5475*:  General Biochemistry I

BIO 8003:  Introduction to Biological Research

* May be satisfied with a previous course in Biochemistry. A student seeking this credit must petition the Department's Graduate Committee.

One core course from each of the three major areas of study within the Biology Department must also be completed. The area requirement fulfilled by a particular course must be stipulated when registering:

Cell and Developmental Biology:

BIO 5427: 

BIO 5429:  Developmental Genetics

BIO 5430: 

BIO 5464: 

BIO 5465: 

BIO 5467:  Endocrinology

BIO 5471:  Cell Proliferation

Molecular Biology and Genetics:

BIO 5101:  Evolution

BIO 5248:  Virology

BIO 5403:  Genomics and Proteomics

BIO 5429:  Developmental Genetics

BIO 5469:  Molecular Biology

BIO 5474:  Physical Biochemistry

BIO 5476:  General Biochemistry II

BIO 5479: 

Physiology, Behavior, and Neurobiology:

BIO 5416:  Tropical Marine Biology: Belize

BIO 5452:  Neurobiology

BIO 5454:  Neurological Basis of Animal Behavior

BIO 5456:  Organization and Development of the Nervous System

BIO 5467:  Endocrinology

Five 3-s.h. graduate seminars are also required. Students must enroll in a 1-s.h. graduate seminar in each semester that either BIO 703 or a 3-s.h. seminar is not taken.

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: No language examination is required.

Additional Requirements:

All graduate-level courses must be passed with a "B-" or better.

All Ph.D. candidates must have experience teaching at Temple University. A minimum teaching requirement of two semesters 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 independently prepares a written proposal on research in one of the specializations in the graduate program. The student is to designate the area and submit the written proposal to the Graduate Committee by April 1 in the student's fourth semester. The proposal should follow the general format of a postdoctoral proposal to a federal granting agency (e.g., NIH). It should include background surrounding a particular research problem, including literature related to the problem, and a detailed methodological plan for investigating the problem. 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; and References in PNAS format. It should be 10 to 20 pages in length. The research advisor is not to make direct contributions to the brief.

The Area Committee has two weeks in which to review the written proposal, and the student is allowed only one 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 is scheduled through the Graduate Secretary and held within two weeks. The oral examination tests the student's understanding of the background and substance of the research proposal and her/his understanding of the area of specialization in which the research is embedded.

The preliminary examination is administered by the Preliminary Examination Committee, which is drawn from the appropriate Area Committee(s) in the absence of the research advisor. A minimum of three examiners serve on the Preliminary Examination Committee.

The full exam, both written and oral, is graded by the Preliminary Examination Committee, and one of the following grades is assigned: Fail, Promising, Pass, High Pass, or Pass with Distinction. The evaluators look for a breadth and depth of understanding of specific research areas; a critical application of that knowledge to specific biological phenomena; and an ability to write a proposal in a manner consistent with scientists in the student's specialization. The student is notified of the grade the day the exam is taken. A passing grade requires a 2/3 majority of the Preliminary Examination Committee. The grade of Promising denotes that an exam must be retaken. Examinations that are to be retaken must be completed before October 1 of the following academic year.


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.

The Doctoral Advisory Committee includes a minimum of four members:  three from the department, including the advisor, and one from outside the department. Departmental members must be Graduate Faculty or equivalent research faculty and are chosen by the student and advisor. The Doctoral Advisory Committee is to be formed within 2 to 3 months after successful completion of the preliminary examination, with the exception of the outside member who may be chosen just prior to the Initial Dissertation Defense. The student may petition the Department's Graduate Committee to change an advisor or committee member.

The Initial Dissertation Defense is to be an open defense to which faculty and graduate students are invited.  It is conducted significantly in advance of writing the final draft of the dissertation and is administered by the Dissertation Examining Committee, including the outside member. This is to be arranged by the dissertation advisor and the results reported to the Chair of the Graduate Committee and the Department Chair in writing, signed by committee members.

The Final Doctoral Examination is to 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 then meets with the Dissertation Examining Committee after the colloquium for the Final Dissertation Defense. The penultimate version of the dissertation must be approved by the Doctoral Advisory Committee at least two weeks before the Graduate School deadline for submission of final copies.

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. Announcements of the dissertation defense are posted around the Biology Department and sent via e-mail or listserv.

Program Contact Information:


Department Information:

Dept. of Biology

Regee Neely, Administrative Assistant

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


Department Contacts:


Edward Gruberg


Program Coordinator:

Edward Gruberg


Graduate Chairperson:

Edward Gruberg



Shohreh Amini

About the Program

The Ph.D. in Biology offers students rigorous advanced study of the Biological Sciences. Broad preparation is offered in major research areas in Biology through a variety of formal courses and advanced seminars.  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:


Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

Full-time study is required.  Students are required to complete the degree program through classes offered before 4:30 p.m.

Department Information:

Dept. of Biology

Regee Neely, Administrative Assistant

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


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 Environmental Studies Program, and the Neuroscience Program.


Not applicable.

Study Abroad:



Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Areas of Specialization:

Faculty members specialize in the areas of Aquatic Ecology, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, and Virology.

Job Placement:

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


Not applicable.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

Non-matriculated students may enroll in a total of three courses (9 credits) with permission of the instructor and the Department.

Financing Opportunities

Temple offers a limited number of fellowships to support outstanding students in the doctoral program. Fellowships typically provide support, including a stipend and tuition, for four years. Additional support is available in the form of Teaching and Research Assistantships.  The principal duties of a Teaching Assistant include assisting faculty in the classroom; offering field and laboratory instruction; preparing materials for demonstration; conducting tutorials and laboratory sessions; and grading labs, quizzes, and tests. Attendance at weekly laboratory preparation sessions is required. The duties of a Research Assistant vary depending on the faculty member or principal investigator who is directing a specific research project. The appropriate project(s) are determined by consultation between the student and the student's academic and research 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 9 credits per semester). Summer stipends are also available. Assistantships are awarded competitively.

Updated 10.29.09