PhD in Biology

 

PhD Student working in a mouse lab

 

A doctorate in biology can lead to teaching positions at top universities, lucrative careers at global corporations or research roles in areas ranging from cancer to conservation. And, thanks to our location in Washington, D.C., students are connected to numerous research institutions, museums and funding agencies located in and around our nation's capital.

Each doctoral program is tailored to the student and developed in consultation with an advisory committee. Doctoral candidates build close relationships with faculty and researchers, publish their work in national journals and pursue exciting projects in campus laboratory facilities.

 


Focus Areas

Students are provided the option to focus on one of two research areas:

 


Daniela Campanella

Daniela Campanella

PhD ’15
Guillermo Orti Lab

"In my PhD research, every stage was a challenge. I found myself doing something I had never done before, and I love that feeling."


Exams and Dissertation

Coursework is designed to prepare students for general examinations in three or more fields relevant to an area of interest. Following exams, students undertake dissertation research under the guidance of a dissertation director. The final examination is an oral defense of the dissertation.

Learn more about dissertation format and submission on the GW Libraries’ Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) website.

 


Suggested Timeline

  • Year 1: Meet with the biology director of graduate studies regarding any transfer credits; meet with chosen research advisor and General Examination Committee to execute a Program of Study; begin researching dissertation topics; identify possible members of the Dissertation Research Committee
  • Year 2: Complete course work and take general examination within the following semester; pass general examination and advance to candidacy; write dissertation proposal and deliver accompanying oral presentation to committee
  • Years 3–5: Register for BISC 8999 each semester; arrange periodic progress meetings with Dissertation Research Committee; complete dissertation; complete dissertation defense; submit final dissertation electronically to Gelman Library

 


Course Requirements

A completed Doctor of Philosophy in Biology degree requires 72 course credits, including 12–24 credits of dissertation research. A previously completed Master of Science degree serves as the equivalent of 24 credit hours (i.e., students with an MS need to register for 48 hours to complete the PhD course requirements).

Specific admission requirements are shown on the Graduate Program Finder.

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

The requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Program.

The required curriculum and program requirements as outlined below:

Requirements for students entering with a bachelor’s degree:
72 credits prior to graduation.
48 credits of approved graduate-level coursework to be advanced to candidacy.
At least 12 credits of dissertation research (BISC 8999).
Successful completion of a general examination, comprising both written and oral examinations, to be advanced to candidacy.
Requirements for students entering with a master’s degree:
72 credits prior to graduation.
48 credits of approved graduate-level coursework to be advanced to candidacy (includes up to 30 credits transferred from the MS degree).
At least 12 credits of dissertation research (BISC 8999).
Successful completion of a general examination, comprising both written and oral examinations, to be advanced to candidacy.

The program of study and fields of study are determined in consultation with an advisory committee appointed for each candidate.

Major research fields

  • Cell and molecular biology
  • Systematics
  • Evolution
  • Ecology