Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 36

Required Courses:

Core Courses
BIOL 8003Introduction to Graduate Research3
BIOL 8220Seminar 13
Three 8000-level Biology seminars 29
Two additional graduate-level courses 36
Select three from the following:9
BIOL 5101
BIOL 5111
Genomics in Medicine
BIOL 5112
Fundamentals of Genomic Evolutionary Medicine
BIOL 5114
Evolutionary Ecology
BIOL 5128
Genomics and Infectious Disease Dynamics
BIOL 5241
Genomics and Evolutionary Biology of Parasites and Other Dependent Species
BIOL 5254
Animal Behavior
BIOL 5275
Ecology of Invasive Species
BIOL 5301
Cell Biology
BIOL 5307
Conservation Biology
BIOL 5312
BIOL 5321
Plant Community Ecology
BIOL 5322
Biology of Plants
BIOL 5323
Global Change Science: Analytics with R
BIOL 5335
Polar Biology - Life at the Extremes
BIOL 5337
Comparative Biomechanics
BIOL 5338
BIOL 5358
Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience
BIOL 5361
Molecular Neuropharmacology
BIOL 5366
Stem Cell Biology
BIOL 5403
BIOL 5416
Tropical Marine Biology: Belize
BIOL 5428
BIOL 5429
Developmental Genetics
BIOL 5436
Freshwater Ecology
BIOL 5452
Systems Neuroscience
BIOL 5454
Neurological Basis of Animal Behavior
BIOL 5456
Organization and Development of the Nervous System
BIOL 5464
Biochemistry of Embryogenesis
BIOL 5465
Mammalian Development
BIOL 5466
Contemporary Biology
BIOL 5469
Molecular Biology
BIOL 5471
Cell Proliferation
BIOL 5474
Physical Biochemistry
BIOL 5475
General Biochemistry I
BIOL 5476
General Biochemistry II
BIOL 5479
BIOL 5501
Analytical Biotechnology
BIOL 5502
Microbial Biotechnology
EES 5011
Remote Sensing and GIS
Research Courses 46
BIOL 9994
Preliminary Examination Preparation
BIOL 9998
Pre-Dissertation Research / Elevation to Candidacy
BIOL 9999
Dissertation Research
Total Credit Hours36

Students take 1 credit of BIOL 8220 in the Fall and 2 credits of BIOL 8220 in the Spring.


One 3-credit seminar may be replaced with three 1-credit seminars. 


Additional courses are selected from 8000-level seminars or from 5000-level Biology courses. With approval from the student’s advisor and the Graduate Chair, two non-Biology graduate-level courses that align with the student’s career goals may be taken.


A minimum of 2 credits of BIOL 9999 must be taken.

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

All PhD candidates must have experience teaching at Temple University. A minimum teaching requirement of two terms 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 and submits it to the Graduate Committee by April 1 of the student's fourth term. 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. The preliminary exam proposal should be 15 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 department and held within two weeks. The oral examination tests the student's understanding of the background and substance of the research proposal and understanding of the area of specialization in which the research is embedded.

The preliminary examination is administered by the Preliminary Examination Committee 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 their 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 two to three months after successful completion of the preliminary examination, with the exception of the outside member who may be chosen at a later date. The student may petition the Biology Department Graduate Committee to change an advisor or committee member if needed.

The Doctoral Defense is to consist of a formal departmental colloquium open to the public. It is conducted by the Doctoral Advisory Committee, with the outside examiner present. The Graduate School must be notified 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.

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.