Biological Sciences

Major: Biological Sciences
Degree Awarded: Master of Science (MS) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 45.0 (MS) or 90.0 (post-bachelor's) or 45.0 (post-master's)
Co-op Option: Available for full-time on-campus master's-level students
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 26.0101
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 19-1029

About the Program

The Department of Biology offers graduate programs in biological sciences leading to the doctorate degree and to the thesis or non-thesis Master of Science degree. The curricula and research programs are designed to help students achieve success in their degree programs and pursue positions of leadership in their respective fields of research.

The intellectual life of the department relies heavily on the participation, creativity, and the energy of graduate students; therefore the department expects students to be vigorously involved in courses, seminars, journal clubs, research, informal discussions, and departmental functions. 

Additional Information

For more information, contact the Department of Biology at 215-895-2624.

Degree Requirements (MS)

Soon after matriculation, the student completes a plan of study with the advisor outlining their specific program. Both thesis and non-thesis options are available. Conducting formal research necessary for the thesis is dependent upon the student finding a faculty member whom will serve as their faculty advisor and supervise a mutually agreed upon research project.

Students registering for an MS with graduate co-op will gain 6 months of work experience in the summer/fall term (year 1/year 2). The Steinbright Career Development Center will provide students with an overview of professionalism, resume writing, and the job search process. Students will not earn academic credit for the co-op but will earn 9.0 non-academic co-op units per term.

Students wishing to pursue PhD candidacy are encouraged to elect the MS with thesis. After all other requirements are completed, the research MS student defends the thesis at a final oral examination. Alternatively, all non-thesis students must pass a comprehensive examination as a condition of their degree completion. 

Program Requirements

Requirements for the MS Curriculum with Thesis
BIO 500Biochemistry I3.0
BIO 540Readings in Molecular and Cellular Bioscience and Biotechnology3.0
BIO 601Research Methods3.0
BIO 632Advanced Cell Biology3.0
BIO 635Advanced Genetics and Molecular Biology3.0
BIO 997Research in Bioscience12.0
ENVS 506Biostatistics3.0
Bioscience electives 15.0
RCRG 600An Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research0.0
Total Credits45.0
Requirements for the Non-Thesis MS with Graduate Co-op
BIO 500Biochemistry I3.0
BIO 632Advanced Cell Biology3.0
BIO 635Advanced Genetics and Molecular Biology3.0
COOP 500Career Management and Professional Development for Master's Degree Students1.0
ENVS 506Biostatistics3.0
Bioscience electives*32.0
Total Credits45.0
Requirements for the Non-thesis MS Curriculum
BIO 500Biochemistry I3.0
BIO 632Advanced Cell Biology3.0
BIO 635Advanced Genetics and Molecular Biology3.0
ENVS 506Biostatistics3.0
Bioscience electives *33.0
Total Credits45.0
Bioscience Electives Include:
BIO 534Bioinformatics I3.0
BIO 535Bioinformatics II3.0
BIO 610Biochemistry of Metabolism3.0
BIO 613Genomics3.0
BIO 614Behavioral Genetics3.0
BIO 615Proteins3.0
BIO 616Biochemistry of Major Diseases3.0
BIO 620Biomembranes3.0
BIO 630Cell Biology of Disease3.0
BIO 644Human Genetics3.0
BIO 646Stem Cell Research3.0
BIO 650Virology3.0
BIO 661Neurobiology of Autism Disorders3.0
BIO 662Biology of Neuron Function3.0
BIO 663Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration3.0
BIO 664Neurobiology of Disease3.0

Degree Requirements (PhD)

The Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences is conferred in recognition of breadth of scholarship and scientific attainment plus demonstrated ability to complete original research.

The following general requirements must be satisfied in order to complete the PhD program in Biological Sciences:

  • 90.0 (post-bac) or 45.0 (post-MS) credit hours total
  • Establishing a plan of study
  • 7 core courses
  • Additional courses dependent on advisor or committee recommendations
  • Candidacy exam/approval of dissertation proposal
  • Dissertation/thesis
  • Defense of dissertation/thesis
  • A graduate research seminar presentation once a year for students in their third year and beyond.

Thesis Advisor/Plan of Study

For students admitted without an identified thesis advisor, the thesis advisor must be selected by the end of winter term in the first year. All students are asked to submit a plan of study by the end of the first year winter quarter. It is anticipated that the graduate coursework will be completed during the first two years or less. Students should check with the department for a list of available electives.

Program Requirements

Cell Molecular Genetics Track
Core Requirement Courses
BIO 540Readings in Molecular and Cellular Bioscience and Biotechnology3.0
BIO 601Research Methods3.0
RCRG 600An Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research0.0
Distribution Required Courses: Must take all 3
BIO 500Biochemistry I3.0
BIO 632Advanced Cell Biology3.0
BIO 635Advanced Genetics and Molecular Biology3.0
Statistics Requirement Course
ENVS 506Biostatistics *3.0
Required Elective Courses: Must take 13.0
Research and Research Seminars **69.0
Graduate Research Seminar
Research in Bioscience
Total Credits90.0
Ecology Evolution Track
Core Requirement Courses
BIO 540Readings in Molecular and Cellular Bioscience and Biotechnology3.0
BIO 601Research Methods3.0
RCRG 600An Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research0.0
Distribution Required Courses: Must take 29.0-10.0
Population Genetics *
Molecular Ecology *
Conservation Biology
Statistics Requirement Course
ENVS 506Biostatistics **3.0
Required Elective Courses: Must take 26.0
Research and Research Seminars ***66.0
Graduate Research Seminar
Research in Bioscience
Total Credits90.0-91.0

Sample Plan of Study (MS)

Thesis - MS Sample Plan of Study

First Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
BIO 5003.0BIO 6353.0BIO 6323.0VACATION
BIO 5403.0BIO 997 (OR Bioscience Electives)6.0ENVS 5063.0 
Bioscience elective3.0RCRG 6000.0Bioscience elective or Research3.0 
 9 9 9 0
Second Year
FallCreditsWinterCredits  
BIO 6013.0BIO 9973.0  
BIO 9973.0Bioscience electives6.0  
Bioscience electives3.0   
 9 9  
Total Credits 45

Non-Thesis with Graduate Co-op - MS Sample Plan of Study

First Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
BIO 5003.0BIO 6353.0BIO 6323.0COOP EXPERIENCE
COOP 5001.0Bioscience electives6.0ENVS 5063.0 
Bioscience electives6.0 Bioscience elective3.0 
 10 9 9 0
Second Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCredits 
COOP EXPERIENCEBioscience electives9.0Bioscience electives8.0 
 0 9 8 
Total Credits 45

Non-Thesis - MS Sample Plan of Study

First Year
FallCreditsWinterCreditsSpringCreditsSummerCredits
BIO 5003.0BIO 6353.0BIO 6323.0VACATION
Bioscience electives6.0Bioscience electives6.0ENVS 5063.0 
  Bioscience electives3.0 
 9 9 9 0
Second Year
FallCreditsWinterCredits  
Bioscience electives9.0Bioscience electives9.0  
 9 9  
Total Credits 45

Biological Sciences Faculty

Michael Akins, PhD (Yale University). Assistant Professor. The neural mechanisms underlying how organisms interact with the environment; circuit formation, particularly of sensory circuits, and neural diseases including autism and Fragile X syndrome (FXS).
Shivanthi Anandan, PhD (University of California, Los Angeles) Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. Associate Professor. Microbial genetics, in particular the analysis of light-regulated signal transduction pathways and the regulation of gene expression in photosynthesizing organisms.
John R. Bethea, PhD (University of Alabama at Birmingham). Professor. Neuroscience and immunology.
Valerie Bracchi-Ricard, PhD (University Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France). Research Assistant Professor. Role of TNF and TNF receptors in neuroinflammation and remyelination following spinal cord injury.
Laura Duwel, PhD (University of Cincinnati) Assistant Department Head, Department of Biology. Teaching Professor. Immunology and microbiology.
Felice Elefant, PhD (Temple University) Director of the Biology Graduate Program. Professor. Understanding the roles of two classes of chromatin regulatory proteins termed histone acetyltransferases(HATs)and histone de-methylases.
Roman Fischer, PhD (University of Stuttgart, Germany). Research Assistant Professor. Regenerative and anti-inflammatory therapies to treat autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases.
Denise Garcia, PhD (UCLA). Associate Professor. Neuroscience, the role of astrocytes in the central nervous system.
Tali Gidalevitz, PhD (University of Chicago). Associate Professor. Genetic and molecular pathways regulating protein folding homeostasis, and their role in protein conformation diseases, aging, and development.
Mary Katherine Gonder, PhD (The City University of New York) Director, Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program Co-Founder, Central African Biodiversity Alliance. Professor. Deciphering spatial patterns of biodiversity across the Gulf of Guinea and Congo Basin region; Conservation measures to mitigate the effects of habitat loss and climate change in western equatorial Africa.
Susan Gurney, PhD (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (Germany)). Associate Teaching Professor. Evolutionary genetics (human and equids); stem cell biology; forensic science
Meshagae Hunte-Brown, PhD (Drexel University). Teaching Professor. Stable isotopes in aquatic food webs, ecosystem ecology, STEM education.
Jiu Jiang, MD, PhD (Shanghai Second Medical University). Research Associate Professor. T cell immune response to virus infection in aged mice.
Karen Kabnick, PhD (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Associate Teaching Professor. Molecular and genetic mechanisms of cellular biology, human disease, host/parasite interactions.
Kari Lenhart, PhD (Princeton University). Assistant Professor. Coordination of stem cell behavior and regulation of stem cell cytokinesis in the young and aged niche.
Robert Loudon, PhD (Thomas Jefferson University). Associate Teaching Professor. Rho GTPases, regulation of actin cytoskeleton, Regulation of G protein-coupled receptors by receptor kinases and arrestins.
Daniel Marenda, PhD (Syracuse University). Associate Professor. Developmental neurobiology and behavior; CHARGE syndrome; Pitt-Hopkins syndrome; Alzheimer's disease.
Donna Murasko, PhD (Penn State Hershey Medical Center) Dean Emeritus. Professor. The effects of aging on the adaptive immune response to influenza virus and retrovirus latency and reactivation.
Michael O'Connor, MD, PhD (MD, Johns Hopkins University; PhD, Colorado State). Professor. Biophysical and physiological ecology, thermoregulation of vertebrates, ecological modeling.
Sean O'Donnell, PhD (University of Wisconsin-Madison). Professor. Tropical ecology, focusing on geographic variation and elevation effects on ecology and behavior of army ants and ant-bird interactions; neurobiology, focusing on brain plasticity and brain evolution in social insects.
Ryan Petrie, PhD (McGill University). Assistant Professor. Mechanisms of cell movement through three-dimensional extracellular matrix.
Jerome Ricard, PhD (University Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France). Research Assistant Professor. Inflammation and cell death after spinal cord injury. Regulation of cell death by Eph receptors.
Jacob Russell, PhD (University of Arizona). Professor. Microbiomes and metagenomics; ecology and evolution of symbiosis.
Nianli Sang, MB, PhD (M.B., Fudan University Shanghai Medical College; Ph.D., Thomas Jefferson University) Co-Director of the Cell Imaging Center. Associate Professor. Molecular and cellular biology of cancer; posttranslational modification, folding and quality control of proteins and their implication in cell physiology and human diseases.
Aleister Saunders, PhD (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) Senior Vice Provost for Research, Director of the RNAi Resource Center. Professor. Identification and characterization of genes and proteins involved in Alzheimer's disease.
Kevin P.W. Smith, PhD (Drexel University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Linking behavioral ecology and organismal diversity, neonate behavior in herpetological models, STEM education.
Elias T. Spiliotis, PhD (The Johns Hopkins University) Director of the Cell Imaging Center . Associate Professor. Cell polarity and cell division: regulation of cytoskeleton-dependent motility.
Jennifer Stanford, PhD (Harvard University). Associate Professor. Evaluating and improving approaches to teach STEM content in higher education environments to promote student learning, engagement in STEM courses, and STEM student retention.
Khakhina Svetlana, PhD (Rowan University, GSBS). Assistant Teaching Professor. Host-pathogen interactions. Exploring the diversity of bacteriophages and antibiotic-production bacteria to use it as tolls provided by nature to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
Monica M. Togna, PhD (New Jersey Institute of Technology). Assistant Teaching Professor. Examination of the structure and function of living organisms from the cellular to the organismal level in order to better understand common physiological processes.

Emeritus Faculty

Joseph Bentz, PhD (State University of New York [SUNY] at Buffalo). Professor Emeritus. Biophysics, biochemistry and biopharmaceutics, focused on the molecular basis of biological membrane transport and fusion.
Cecilie Goodrich, PhD (Harvard University). Professor Emeritus. Neuroscience and systems physiology, postnatal maturation of physiology and behavior in relation to brain immunocytochemistry.
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