Biology PhD

Gain the experience to make significant contributions to biological research with the Biology PhD program in the College of Science and Technology. The Biology PhD degree provides a rigorous, research-focused course of study. You’ll be prepared to pursue multiple career pathways related to the biological sciences, including postdoctoral and academic positions, and in related industries, such as biotechnology, bioengineering, healthcare and pharmaceutics. The Biology PhD program provides opportunities for you to receive funding for your degree with either a teaching or research assistantship, and a tuition waiver.

Biology PhD students are afforded the chance to choose which lab they want to join. During your first year, you can choose a specific research group immediately or you can rotate up to three research groups before deciding on a lab. Once you are admitted to candidacy, you’ll pursue specialized research toward the completion of your degree.

Faculty members perform cutting-edge research in different areas of specialization that include

  • cellular, developmental and molecular biology;
  • cellular and molecular neuroscience, which investigates the central nervous system and the mechanisms it governs;
  • computational biology, which focuses on computational evolutionary genomics;
  • ecology, an interdisciplinary field that investigates the complex relationships between living organisms and their environments;
  • evolutionary medicine, an interdisciplinary field that examines contemporary human disease within the larger context of evolutionary history;
  • genetic epidemiology, an interdisciplinary field that examines the impact of genetic and environmental factors on modern human disease; and
  • population genetics, a subfield of genetics and evolutionary biology that examines genetic change over time within and between populations.

Learn more about the Department of Biology’s research areas.

Coursework is interdisciplinary and students are encouraged to participate in research across other fields, including biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, ecology, environmental science, engineering, mathematics and physics. Doctoral candidates perform innovative research in many of the College of Science and Technology’s state-of-the-art centers and facilities, including the

Learn more about the Department of Biology’s research centers and facilities.

Professor and student examining coral

Program Requirements

Doctoral candidates have seven years to complete the required courses and examination, as well as a dissertation. All candidates must fulfill the following requirements for successful completion of the Biology PhD program. 

  • The preliminary examination is designed to test a student’s understanding of biological phenomena, specific research areas and scientific writing. The preliminary examination comprises 
    • an original research proposal, a 15- to 20-page proposal that introduces a research problem and the student’s methodological plan for investigating the problem, and
    • the oral examination, which is administered after a student’s research proposal has been approved and tests a student’s understanding of the background and substance of the research proposal. (If a student’s research proposal is not approved, the student is considered to have not passed the oral examination.)
  • The doctoral dissertation is an original, empirical study that demonstrates a student's knowledge of research methods and mastery of the primary area of research. All dissertation research is conducted under the guidance of the Doctoral Advisory Committee.
  • The final dissertation defense is the culminating event for Biology PhD candidates. Students must successfully pass the dissertation defense for completion of the Biology PhD degree.  

All Biology PhD candidates must have experience teaching at Temple for a minimum of two semesters. This requirement can be satisfied through teaching assistantships in the Department of Biology.

Learn more about the Biology PhD examination and dissertation requirements

Classes & Curriculum

Following coursework in the first one to two years, you'll advance to candidacy and engage in research opportunities across the many labs and disciplines represented by faculty members. Doctoral students will undertake a preliminary examination, as well as an original dissertation, to demonstrate their knowledge of research methods and mastery of their primary research area.

The Biology PhD curriculum requires 36 credit hours, including 15 hours of graduate seminar courses. Some of these courses include

  • Analytical Biotechnology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Contemporary Biology
  • General Biochemistry, and 
  • Evolutionary Genetics Genomics

Learn more about required courses for the Biology PhD.

Related Graduate Degrees

*College of Engineering

Related Graduate Certificates

Tuition & Fees

In keeping with Temple’s commitment to access and affordability, this Doctor of Philosophy offers a competitive level of tuition with multiple opportunities for financial support.

Tuition rates are set annually by the university and are affected by multiple factors, including program degree level (undergraduate or graduate), course load (full- or part-time), in-state or out-of-state residency, and more. These tuition costs apply to the 2023–2024 academic year.

Pennsylvania resident: $1,301.00 per credit
Out-of-state: $1,696.00 per credit

You can view the full Cost of Attendance breakdown on the Student Financial Services website.


Additional Program Information