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)
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. 

MS in Biological Sciences

Degree Requirements

Soon after matriculation the student completes a plan of study with the advisor, outlining his or her 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 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. The non-thesis student takes a comprehensive examination.

Requirements for the MS Curriculum with Thesis
BIO 500Biochemistry I3.0
BIO 532Advanced Cell Biology3.0
BIO 540Readings in Molecular and Cellular Bioscience and Biotechnology3.0
BIO 601Research Methods3.0
BIO 635Advanced Genetics and Molecular Biology3.0
BIO 679Issues in Scientific Research3.0
BIO 997Research in Bioscience9.0
ENVS 506Biostatistics3.0
Five Bioscience (BIO) or Environmental Science (ENVS) electives 15.0
Total Credits45.0

Requirements for the Non-thesis MS Curriculum
BIO 500Biochemistry I3.0
BIO 532Advanced Cell Biology3.0
BIO 635Advanced Genetics and Molecular Biology3.0
BIO 679Issues in Scientific Research3.0
ENVS 506Biostatistics3.0
Bioscience (BIO) or Environmental Science (ENVS) electives *30.0
Total Credits45.0


*Non-thesis students may elect to take up to 4 credits of BIO 997 Research in Bioscience.


Bioscience Electives Include:
BIO 530Microbial Genetics5.0
BIO 566Endocrinology4.0
BIO 610Biochemistry of Metabolism3.0
BIO 615Proteins3.0
BIO 620Biomembranes3.0
BIO 625Nucleic Acids3.0
BIO 631Bioinformatics I3.0
BIO 644Human Genetics3.0
BIO 646Stem Cell Research3.0
BIO 649Recombinant DNA Laboratory5.0
BIO 650Virology3.0
BIO 663Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration3.0
BIO 670Medical Microbiology3.0
BIO 675Advanced Immunology3.0

PhD in Biological Sciences

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 (post-bac) or 45 (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 second 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 winter quarter first year. 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.

Core Requirement Courses:
BIO 500Biochemistry I3.0
BIO 532Advanced Cell Biology3.0
BIO 540Readings in Molecular and Cellular Bioscience and Biotechnology3.0
BIO 601Research Methods3.0
BIO 635Advanced Genetics and Molecular Biology3.0
BIO 679Issues in Scientific Research3.0
ENVS 506Biostatistics3.0
Total Credits21.0



Sample Sequence/Sample Plan of Study

First Year
BIO 500Biochemistry I3.0
BIO 532Advanced Cell Biology3.0
 Term Credits6.0
BIO 540Readings in Molecular and Cellular Bioscience and Biotechnology3.0
BIO 635Advanced Genetics and Molecular Biology3.0
 Term Credits6.0
BIO 601Research Methods3.0
ENVS 506Biostatistics3.0
 Term Credits6.0
Second Year
BIO 679Issues in Scientific Research3.0
 Term Credits6.0
BIO 620Biomembranes3.0
 Term Credits3.0
BIO 620Biomembranes3.0
 Term Credits3.0
Total Credit: 30.0

Contact the Department of Biology at (215) 895-2624 for more information.

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). Associate Professor. Microbial genetics, in particular the analysis of light-regulated signal transduction pathways and the regulation of gene expression in photosynthesizing organisms.
Joseph Bentz, PhD (State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo). Professor. Biophysics, biochemistry and biopharmaceutics, focused on the molecular basis of biological membrane transport and fusion.
John R. Bethea, PhD (University of Alabama at Birmingham) Department Head. 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). Associate Professor. Understanding the roles of two classes of chromatin regulatory proteins termed histone acetyltransferases(HATs)and histone de-methylases.
Denise Garcia, PhD (UCLA). Assistant Professor. Neuroscience, the role of astrocytes in the central nervous system.
Tali Gidalevitz, PhD (University of Chicago). Assistant 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. Associate 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)). Assistant Teaching Professor. Evolutionary genetics (human and equids); stem cell biology; forensic science
Meshagae Hunte-Brown, PhD (Drexel University). Associate 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.
Joy Little, PhD (Wake Forest University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Stem education, cancer cell biology.
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) Director of the Biology Graduate Program, Co-Director of the Cell Imaging Center . Associate Professor. Developmental neurobiology and behavior; CHARGE syndrome; Pitt-Hopkins syndrome; Alzheimer's disease.
Donna Murasko, PhD (Penn State Hershey Medical Center) Dean, College of Arts and Sciences. 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). Associate Professor. Biophysical and physiological ecology, thermoregulation of vertebrates, ecological modeling.
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). Associate 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. Associate 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). Assistant 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.
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

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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