Ph.D. Program

The training for a Ph.D. in Biology is focused on helping students achieve their goals of being a successful research scientist and teacher, at the highest level. Students work closely with an established advisor and meet regularly with a committee of faculty members to facilitate their progress. The Biology Ph.D. program is part of the larger Biosciences community at Stanford, which includes doctorate programs in the basic science departments at Stanford Medical School. 

There are two tracks within the Biology Ph.D. program:

  • Cell, Molecular and Organismal Biology
  • Ecology and Evolution

(Previously a part of the Department of Biology Hopkins Marine Station is now a part of the Oceans Department within  Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability )

All  tracks are focused on excellence in research and teaching in their respective areas; where there are differences between the tracks, they are indicated in the links below. 

Requirements & Forms

Dissertation defense, cellular and molecular biology training program, stanford biology preview program (bpp): navigating the stanford biology phd application process, career development resources.


Phd in biology: requirements, salary, jobs, & career growth, what is phd in biology.

A PhD in Biology is a doctoral degree that focuses on the study of living creatures and how they interact with their surroundings. It is a four to six-year advanced academic degree that entails hard study and coursework in numerous fields of biology such as genetics, ecology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and physiology.

Students engage closely with faculty members throughout the program to undertake original research in their subject of interest, culminating in a dissertation that explains their results and adds to the field of biology.

PhD biology graduates are equipped for positions in academia, research, business, government, and other professions requiring biological scientific competence.

How much money do people make with a PhD in Biology?

The median annual wage for biochemists and biophysicists (which normally require a PhD in Biology or a related subject) is $98,940, according to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Microbiologists made $79,590 per year on average, whereas zoologists and animal biologists made $67,760. Here’s a table summarizing the salary ranges for various career paths for individuals with a PhD in Biology:

University Professor $60,000 – $100,000+
Research Scientist (Academia/Research Inst.) $60,000 – $100,000+
Research Scientist (Biotechnology) $70,000 – $120,000+
Research Scientist (Pharmaceuticals) $80,000 – $150,000+
EPA/NIH Research Scientist $60,000 – $100,000+
Clinical Research $70,000 – $120,000+
Genetic Counseling $70,000 – $100,000+
Science Writer/Journalist $50,000 – $100,000+
Science Education (University Level) $60,000 – $100,000+ (Assistant Prof.)
Conservation Researcher $50,000 – $90,000+
Public Health Researcher $60,000 – $100,000+

What is expected job growth with PhD in Biology?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of biochemists and biophysicists is expected to expand 6% between 2020 and 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. Microbiologists, zoologists, and wildlife biologists are expected to gain 3% and 4%, respectively, throughout the same time period.

University Professor 9%
Genetic Counseling 21%
Research Scientist (Biotechnology) 7%
Research Scientist (Pharmaceuticals) 6%
Clinical Research 6%
Science Writer/Journalist -4%
Science Education (University Level) 9%
Conservation Researcher 5%
Public Health Researcher 5%

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What can you do with a PhD in Biology?

A PhD in Biology can lead to a variety of employment options in academia, research, industry, government, and other disciplines. Here are some common career paths for people with a PhD in Biology:

1. Academic research: Many PhD holders go on to work as academic researchers at universities, research institutions, or government agencies. They may perform research in genetics, ecology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and physiology, among other fields.

2. Biotechnology: Biotechnology firms frequently engage PhDs in Biology to perform research and development of new products and technologies such as medications, vaccines, and genetically modified organisms.

3. Medical research: Pharmaceutical and biotech businesses, as well as government agencies, engage people with a PhD in Biology to undertake medical research, such as discovering new treatments for ailments and analyzing drug effects on the body.

4. Environmental science: Individuals with a PhD in Biology can work in environmental science, studying the interactions of living organisms and their environments, as well as the impact of human activities on ecosystems.

5. Science writing and communication: Many people with a PhD in Biology go into science writing and communication, putting complicated scientific concepts into language that the general public can understand.

6. Science policy: Individuals with a PhD in Biology are frequently hired by government agencies and non-profit organizations to establish and implement science policy, such as legislation and funding priorities for scientific research.

What are the requirements for a PhD in Biology?

The specific requirements for obtaining a PhD in Biology can vary depending on the institution and program, but generally, the following are common requirements:

1. Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree: Applicants to most PhD programs in Biology must have a Bachelor’s degree from a recognized university. Although it is not usually required, certain schools may accept applicants with a Master’s degree in a related discipline.

2. Academic Transcripts: Applicants are usually expected to present certified transcripts of their undergraduate and graduate education, which demonstrate their academic performance and achievement.

3. Statement of Purpose: Applicants are typically expected to provide a personal statement or statement of purpose detailing their research interests, academic ambitions, and reason for pursuing a PhD in Biology.

4. Standardized Test Scores: Applicants to many PhD programs may be required to submit scores from standardized tests such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or other related assessments.

5. Letters of Recommendation: Applicants to PhD programs in Biology are frequently required to provide letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources who may speak to the applicant’s academic talents, research potential, and eligibility for a PhD program.

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How long does it take to get a phd in biology.

The length of time it takes to obtain a PhD in Biology depends on a variety of factors, including the program, the individual’s level of preparedness, and the nature of the research. A typical PhD program in Biology, on the other hand, takes roughly 4-6 years to finish.

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Do you need a masters in biology to get a phd in biology.

A Master’s degree in Biology is not usually required to pursue a PhD in Biology. Many doctoral programs in Biology accept students immediately after they complete their Bachelor’s degree.

Coursework is usually included in the first few years of these programs to give students with the essential basic knowledge and research abilities before they begin their independent research projects.

Some PhD programs, however, may prefer or require applicants to have a Master’s degree in Biology or a related field prior to applying.

A Master’s degree can give a student more experience and expertise in their field of study, which can be useful while applying for PhD programs or performing research during their doctoral program.

What are the Best PhD in Biology Degree programs?

1. massachusetts institute of technology (mit) 2. stanford university 3. california institute of technology (caltech) 4. harvard university 5. university of california–berkeley 6. johns hopkins university 7. university of california–san francisco 8. princeton university 9. university of chicago 10. yale university, leave a comment cancel reply.

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PhD in Biology

PhD candidate standing in tea field

The PhD program in Biology is a research-intensive program that also has a strong focus on teaching, designed to produce top scientists and educators with a broad base of knowledge to tackle the most important biological problems of today. This is accomplished through research training, graduate-level courses, seminars, and teaching experience. Entering students are assigned an advisory committee of three faculty members who work with the student to plan a suitable program based on the student's experience and interests.

PhD students in Biology receive full tuition support for six years, a competitive stipend, health coverage, and receive extensive training in pedagogy, outreach, and communication that prepares them for careers in academia, biotechnology, education, and policy. Students are required to serve as teaching assistants for at least two semesters. Most students complete the requirement for teaching experience in the first year by assisting in the introductory undergraduate biology courses for two semesters.

During the first year, students become familiar with research opportunities in the department by doing short research rotations with various faculty members. This experience in expected to lead to the selection of a research focus for the PhD thesis, and it also sets the stage for cross-disciplinary approaches to the thesis topic that is pursued.

First- and second-year students usually take some graduate courses that are selected in consultation with the advisory committee, in addition to one required course: either Biology 243: Topics in Molecular and Cell Biology; Biology 244: Topics in Evolutionary Ecology; or Biology 246: Topics in Physiology and Animal Behavior.

The department faculty are educators as well as researchers, and the graduate students benefit from this expertise. Graduate students serving as teaching assistants have the opportunity to take a course on teaching and pedagogy to improve their skills, or to become involved with upper level courses in their area of expertise. In addition, we offer a one-month summer program for PhD students interested in contributing to course design and honing their teaching skills via GIFT, the Graduate Institute For Teaching .

PhD student working in lab

Research Concentrations

Browse the six concentration areas below for recommended programs of study and relevant courses:

  • Biology Education Research
  • Ecology, Behavior and Evolution
  • Global Change Biology
  • Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Physiology, Neurobiology and Animal Behavior

Graduate credit for a course requires a grade of B- (B minus) or better. A list of biology department undergraduate and graduate courses can be found by selecting the Courses button from the top bar.

Throughout the year, graduate students benefit from a variety of seminars on current research that are presented by faculty, fellow graduate students, and invited speakers.

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Application Process

This page details the application process for the graduate program in Biology, including the application timeline, application requirements, and information for international students and students with disabilities.

MIT Graduate Biology is a doctoral program. There is no Masters offered. The average length of time until degree is 5 1/2 to 6 years.

The Biology department also participates in a number of  Interdisciplinary and Joint Degree Programs , including the Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience graduate program, the joint MD/PhD program, the Biophysics Certificate program, and the joint program with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. If you are interested in any these programs, please make sure you explore the different requirements to participate in or apply for these programs.

View Interdisciplinary and Joint Degree Programs

Application timeline

Deadline Date
Online application opens October 1
Application Deadline December 1
Interview invitations sent via email Mid-January
Open House / Interview Dates (by invitation) February 10 – 12, 2024
February 24 – 26, 2024
Admissions decisions sent Following interviews

Application requirements

Application for admission is completed through our online system GradApply . For fullest consideration, it is in your best interest to complete all parts of the application by or before the deadline. Incomplete applications may not be reviewed. A complete application should include:

Academic transcript

With regards to specific prerequisite courses for the Biology Program, basic requirements would include Calculus, one year of college physics, organic chemistry and subjects including general biochemistry, genetics and physical chemistry. However, students may make up some deficiencies over the course of their graduate work.

If you are unable to submit an unofficial transcript before the application deadline, you should complete the “Subjects Taken” page on the online application. You should then submit an official transcript by mail as soon as possible. To be considered official, transcripts must be received in envelopes sealed by the institution.

Mailing Address:

Biology Graduate Program Massachusetts Institute of Technology 77 Massachusetts Avenue Building 68-120 Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

Application fee

Letters of recommendation.

We require three letters of recommendation submitted electronically using the online application system. At least two must be academic recommendations. You are responsible for sending the links to your recommenders, tracking the status of the letters (on the “Letter Status” page under “Evaluations”), and following up as needed.

Your recommendation letters should include details that highlight:

  • Past research experience and/or scientific experience
  • Preparation for graduate school, with an emphasis on biology

Standardized tests

Statement of objectives, things to note .

  • If you are applying to more than one department at MIT, you must submit a separate application for each department.
  • CVs can be included in your online application in the “Test Scores / Experience” section.
  • Wherever possible, use the provided drop-down menu options to ensure that your information is submitted correctly.
  • Email will be the primary method of contacting you. Do not change your email address once you have submitted your application, as this will result in a record mismatch.

In-person interviews

In-person interviews are required for an offer of admission to the Biology program. Invitations will be sent out to selected applicants by email in mid-January along with further details about the interview process. The program will cover interview travel expenses, or provide cost-sharing for international students.

Information for international applicants

  • We cannot waive the application fee for international applicants.

Non-native English speakers

Fluency in spoken and written English is essential for success in our program. We judge fluency in several ways, including scores from standardized tests.

  • The IELTS (preferred), TOEFL, Cambridge English Qualifications C1 Advanced, or Cambridge English Qualifications C2 Proficiency test is required of all applicants whose primary language is not English or who did not complete college education in English
  • Test scores: TOEFL (required minimum 600),  IELTS (required minimum 6.5), or Cambridge English Qualifications C1 Advanced/C2 Proficiency (required minimum 176)
  • Test scores must be from within the past two years

More information about these tests is available on the MIT Graduate Admissions website .

Students with disabilities

MIT is committed to equal access for qualified students. Interested students may contact the MIT Student Disabilities Services office  to learn about resources on campus.

Biology Application Assistance Program

The Biology Application Assistance Program (BAAP) is a student-led effort to support MIT Biology applicants and lower the application information gap for applicants from underrepresented or non-traditional backgrounds. If you are a prospective graduate student applying during this application cycle, submit an application to participate in student-led application activities, including office hours and panels with current MIT Biograds, to help you prepare your application before submission. BAAP applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until November, 15, 2022. Questions? Email [email protected]  or visit the BAAP website to learn more.

Submit a BAAP Form

Questions and concerns

  • Additional information about the application process is available on the Graduate Admissions website .
  • For specific questions about the Biology Graduate Program and the application process, contact us by email ([email protected]) or phone  (617-258-6502).
  • For technical questions about the online application site, contact [email protected] .

Due to the volume of applications received, we are unable to respond to requests for updated status of application materials received or to provide feedback about unsuccessful applications.

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About the PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program

In the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD program, faculty, and students work together to increase knowledge of the biochemical and molecular bases of normal and abnormal cellular processes. Our program trains students to be successful independent scientists and gives them the knowledge, research training, and leadership skills to continue to provide new insights into the biomedical issues that have a profound impact on public health.

Students engage in a rigorous course curriculum and a range of structured and informal activities outside the classroom and lab to build their skills. They will pursue their thesis research in the lab of one of our over forty training faculty across the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Visit our dedicated PhD program website to learn more about the diverse research training opportunities of the program.

PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program Highlights

Our position within the School of Public Health provides a unique setting in which students learn how biochemistry, molecular biology, physical chemistry, cell biology, and genetics can be used to solve significant problems in public health and medicine. Our program offers:

  • Training faculty from across the School of Public Health and the School of Medicine
  • A strong grounding in the science of biomedical and public health research through a core curriculum that includes courses taught by leading experts from the Schools of Public Health and Medicine
  • Training outside the lab and classroom in key skills such as communications and leadership
  • Opportunities to build strong communications skills through a range of speaking venues including journal club, research colloquium, department retreats, and national meetings
  • Access to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Professional Development and Career Office , offering excellent career services and professional development,  including the BMB-required OPTIONS program, a guided process of career exploration for paths from medicine to biotech to academia and beyond for careers paths from medicine to biotech to academia and beyond
  • Opportunities to participate in community service and outreach, with a focus on our East Baltimore neighborhoods, through the Johns Hopkins University community engagement and service-learning center, SOURCE

Training faculty across the School of Public Health and the School of Medicine

Schools that students can take courses in: Public Health, Arts & Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering

Two-month rotations in the first year prior to selecting thesis lab

Average number of incoming students in the BMB PhD degree program each year

What Can You Do With a PhD In Biochemistry And Molecular Biology?

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD program prepares students for a range of biomedical and health sciences careers, including in academia, industry, policy, and beyond. Visit the Graduate Employment Outcomes Dashboard to learn about Bloomberg School graduates' employment status, sector, and salaries.

Sample Careers

  • Research Scientist
  • Science Policy Adviser
  • Biotech Executive
  • Senior Scientist
  • Patent Lawyer
  • Science Policy Analyst/Advocate
  • Science Writer/Journalist
  • Biological Sciences Teacher

Topic Areas

The BMB PhD program faculty conduct research to gain new insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal cellular processes, and their relevance as targets for improving health and treating disease. Our training program places particular emphasis on mechanistic approaches to research problems.

Common topic areas within our faculty's diverse research interests include:

  • Biophysics and Structural Biology
  • Cancer Biology
  • Chemical Biology and Proteomics
  • Cell Biology
  • Cellular Stress and Cell Signaling
  • Genetics, Genomics, and Gene Regulation
  • Immunology and Infectious Diseases
  • Translational Research

Curriculum for the PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The BMB PhD offers students a rigorous course curriculum, including a set of common core classes from the Schools of Public Health and Medicine. A rich array of seminar programs and journal clubs are also available to all students.

Browse an overview of the requirements for this PhD program in the JHU  Academic Catalogue  and explore all course offerings in the Bloomberg School  Course Directory .

Courses in core curriculum

Minimum elective credits

Seminars on current research presented by experts from across Johns Hopkins and other biomedical research institutions

Courses available across Johns Hopkins Schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Arts and Sciences

Admissions Requirements

For the general admissions requirements see our How to Apply page. The specific program also requires:

Prior Work Experience

Laboratory research experience (from academia, industry, etc.) is required

Prior Coursework

Strong background in the sciences, particularly in chemistry, biochemistry, or biology

Standardized Test Scores

Standardized test scores (GRE) are optional for this program. The admissions committee will make no assumptions if a standardized test score is omitted from an application, but will require evidence of quantitative/analytical ability through other application components such as academic transcripts and/or supplemental questions.  Applications will be reviewed holistically based on all application components.

Program Faculty Spotlight

Ashani Weeraratna

Ashani T. Weeraratna

Ashi Weeraratna, PhD, studies how cancer cells move to distant sites and how changes in the normal cells around a tumor contribute to their movement, especially as we age.

how long to get a phd in biology

Michael J. Matunis

Michael Matunis, PhD, studies how protein modification by SUMO—the small ubiquitin-related modifier—drives changes in key cellular pathways from stress response to DNA repair.

Jennifer Kavran

Jennifer M. Kavran

Jennifer Kavran, PhD, MS, MPhil, is a biophysicist who investigates how cells communicate with each other and their environment.

how long to get a phd in biology

Danfeng Cai

Danfeng Cai, PhD, combines advanced microscopy, genomics, and proteomics to tease out the functions of protein condensates in cells, with a focus on cancer.

Vivien Thomas PhD Scholars

The  Vivien Thomas Scholars Initiative (VTSI)  is an endowed fellowship program at Johns Hopkins for PhD students in STEM fields. It provides full tuition, stipend, and benefits while also providing targeted mentoring, networking, community, and professional development opportunities. Students who have attended a historically Black college and university (HBCU) or other minority serving institution (MSI) for undergraduate study are eligible to apply. To be considered for the VTSI, you will need to submit a SOPHAS application, VTSI supplementary materials, and all supporting documents (letters, transcripts, and test scores) by December 1, 2024. VTSI applicants are eligible for an application fee waiver , but the fee waiver must be requested by November 15, 2024 and prior to submission of the SOPHAS application.

Vivien Thomas

All full-time PhD students receive the following support for all years of the program: full tuition and fees, individual health insurance, University Health Services fee, vision insurance, dental insurance, and a stipend for living expenses for students who remain in good academic standing. PhD students are required to serve as a teaching assistant for at least one term, in either their 2nd or 3rd year.

Need-Based Relocation Grants Students who  are admitted to PhD programs at JHU starting in Fall 2023 or beyond can apply to receive a $1500 need-based grant to offset the costs of relocating to be able to attend JHU.   These grants provide funding to a portion of incoming students who, without this money, may otherwise not be able to afford to relocate to JHU for their PhD program. This is not a merit-based grant. Applications will be evaluated solely based on financial need.  View more information about the need-based relocation grants for PhD students .

Questions about the program? We're happy to help.

Mike Matunis, PhD PhD Program Director

Roza Selimyan , PhD BMB Executive Director for Academic Affairs and Education Programs

Erika Vaitekunas Administrative Specialist

[email protected]

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Biology, PhD

The Biology Graduate Program represents many areas of biology, and interactions with a diverse group of colleagues provide opportunities to broaden every student’s thinking and make connections between different fields and scientific approaches. Areas of research include microbiology, cell biology, development, physiology, neuroscience, animal behavior, plant biology, genetics, computational biology, evolution, ecology and biodiversity. 

Each entering graduate student has the freedom to pursue topics ranging from the behavior of molecules to that of cells, organisms, genomes, and ecosystems. We encourage students to get broad exposure through lab rotations with any faculty member in the Biology Graduate Group. As students focus on more specific research interests, they tailor their graduate education accordingly, choosing courses from different departments and schools at Penn as appropriate.

Students complete most of their course work and lab rotations in the first year and then start their thesis research in the second year while completing their teaching requirement and preparing for their candidacy exams.  Students are then fully focused on thesis research by the end of the second year.  Students still have the option of taking additional courses in advanced years in order to enhance their graduate research.

For more information:

View the University’s Academic Rules for PhD Programs .

Required Courses

The total course units for graduation in this program is 13.5.

Course List
Code Title Course Units
Foundation Course
Advanced Topics in Current Biological Research1
Writing Requirement
Communication for Biologists1
Core Courses
Select two of the following:2
Advanced Evolution
Evolutionary Ecology
Theoretical Population Biology
Genetic Analysis
Cell Biology
Select three electives 3
Independent Study and Research6.5
Independent Study and Research

See the website for a list of electives:

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2024 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.

Sample Plan of Study

Course List
Code Title Course Units
Year 1
Advanced Topics in Current Biological Research
Cell Biology
Advanced Evolution
Independent Study and Research
Genetic Analysis
Evolutionary Ecology
Theoretical Population Biology
Independent Study and Research
Independent Study and Research
Year 2
Independent Study and Research
Communication for Biologists
Independent Study and Research
Year 3 and Beyond

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NYU Biology’s PhD program offers training in a broad range of biological research fields, including developmental genetics, genomics and systems biology, molecular and cellular biology, evolutionary biology, and infectious disease. Our dynamic and diverse community of faculty and graduate students engages closely on all aspects of scientific investigation. Strong mentoring relationships throughout the PhD program develop students’ abilities to independently design and perform research, write grant proposals, and communicate their findings effectively to a wide audience. The combination of cutting edge research, world class faculty, and a dedication to mentoring and career building skills for our PhD students defines the PhD program at NYU Biology.

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PhD Program Overview page. View the broad range of research and training opportunities at NYU Biology.

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The goal of the Biology Department is to train students at the highest level in one of three broad subfields within modern biology: Cell & Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, and Ecology, Behavior, Evolution & Marine Biology. Upon completion of the PhD, students should be prepared for postgraduate training and to eventually assume teaching and/or research positions in academia, industry, government, or nonprofit agencies. The PhD is a research degree and normally necessitates at least five years of academic study, including summer work.

Applicants to the PhD program must have completed a bachelor’s degree in biology or a closely related field. We favor applicants with both strong academic records and a demonstrated aptitude for research.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate academic mastery in one of three areas of Biology: Ecology, Behavior & Evolution; Neurobiology; or Cellular & Molecular Biology.
  • Attain research expertise, including grant writing experience, and complete original research that advances a specific field of study within one of three broad subject areas represented in the department: Ecology, Behavior & Evolution; Neurobiology; or Cellular & Molecular Biology.
  • Attain teaching experience and expertise in one of three broad areas of Biology: Ecology, Behavior & Evolution; Neurobiology; or Cellular & Molecular Biology.
  • Attain the skills and qualifications needed for employment in an academic, government, or private sector position related to the life sciences.

Course Requirements

Students must complete 64 credits with a minimum grade point average of 3.0; at least 32 of these credits must be accrued from lecture, laboratory, or seminar courses. Students with prior graduate work may be able to transfer course credits. See the GRS Transfer of Credits policy for more details.

  • 2 semesters of Progress in Research Seminars (1–2 credits each, select from CAS BI 583, BI 584, BI 579, BI 580, GRS NE 500, NE 501)
  • 1 semester grant-writing course (2 credits, usually GRS BI 671 or CAS BI 581)
  • 1 semester pedagogy course (1 credit, BI 697)
  • 1 quantitative course (3–4 credits, selected from a list of courses)
  • Additional courses vary by specific track and student interests

Cell & Molecular Biology

  • GRS BI 735 Advanced Cell Biology
  • GRS BI 753 Advanced Molecular Biology
  • GRS MB 721 Graduate Biochemistry
  • Three electives
  • Research credits


  • GRS BI 755 Cellular and Systems Neuroscience
  • GRS BI 756 Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience or BI 741 Neural Systems: Functional Circuit Analysis
  • Four electives

Ecology, Behavior, Evolution & Marine Biology

  • Six electives

Language Requirement

There is no foreign language requirement for this degree.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination must be completed no later than six semesters after matriculation. In most graduate curricula in the department, this consists of a research proposal—often in the form of a grant application—which the student submits to their committee and subsequently defends in an oral presentation. In the Cell & Molecular Biology and Ecology, Behavior, Evolution & Marine Biology curricula, this is preceded by a comprehensive written examination testing the student’s general background from coursework.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

Candidates shall demonstrate their abilities for independent study in a dissertation representing original research or creative scholarship. A prospectus for the dissertation must be completed and approved by the readers, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Biology Department Chair. Candidates must undergo a final oral examination in which they defend their dissertation as a valuable contribution to knowledge in their field and demonstrate a mastery of their field of specialization in relation to their dissertation. All portions of the dissertation and final oral examination must be completed as outlined in the GRS General Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree . The results of the dissertation must be presented at a department colloquium.

Teaching Requirement

The department requires a minimum of two semesters of teaching as part of the Doctor of Philosophy program. During the first semester of teaching, students are required to enroll in our first-year seminar course, GRS BI 697 A Bridge to Knowledge. The course provides guidance and training on pedagogy and other aspects of graduate school.

MS for PhD Students (Two Options)

Option one: A PhD student who has advanced to candidacy (as demonstrated by passing the PhD qualifying exam) and has completed 32 credits of graduate-level coursework (not including research) may apply to the graduate school for a Master of Science (MS) degree in Biology. This must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies within the Biology Department. The student’s major professor will receive notification of this application process.

Option two:  A PhD student who has taken, but has not advanced to candidacy based on, the PhD qualifying examination may still receive a master’s degree. This student may receive a Coursework MS degree provided they have completed 32 credits of coursework (not including research credits). Alternatively, this student may receive a Scholarly Paper or Research Thesis MS degree if the written portion of the qualifying examination is adapted to ensure it is of sufficiently high quality for an MS degree and approved by a majority of the qualifying exam committee and the Director of Graduate Studies.

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Doctoral degree requirements, general philosophy of the ph.d.  program.

Biology is the most diverse of all the disciplines in the natural sciences. Consequently, the allied fields to which the various subdisciplines in Biology share natural affinities differ. For example, molecular biology makes connections with physical chemistry, biomechanics with engineering and physics, and ecology and evolutionary biology with statistics, mathematics, geology, and atmospheric sciences. The goal of the Biology Doctoral Program is to train young scientists who:

  • excel at research and teaching in their own subdisciplines;
  • demonstrate competence in fields allied to their subdisciplines; and
  • display a breadth of knowledge in Biology as a whole. 

Trajectory through the program

  • At the beginning of your Ph.D.: you will be assigned a temporary advisor (typically the sponsor of your admission).
  • Before registering for the first semester: discuss with your advisor which courses you should take. As a first-year student, you are encouraged to interact with other faculty in your research area to ask them about courses you should take before the preliminary exam—these faculty may very well become members of your Ph.D. committee.

The philosophy of the department is that you need not spend a great deal of time in coursework.  You should take only the courses that fill gaps in areas that will be needed in your research, and spend most of your time starting your research.

  • During the first three semesters: take up to three tutorials with different faculty members in the department. The tutorial requirement is waived as soon as you declare an advisor. Tutorials may involve laboratory work, directed reading in the primary literature, greenhouse or field studies, mathematical or computer modeling, or any other activity that would assist you in identifying a suitable dissertation topic. Other goals of the tutorials are to expose students to the diversity of faculty research interests in their specialty and to help them to identify an appropriate advisor and dissertation committee. 
  • By the end of the 3 rd semester, you must choose an advisor and the advisor must convene an initial meeting of the dissertation committee. Dissertation committees will consist of at least four faculty members, one of which will represent your minor (see below). The goals of the initial meeting are to assess the novelty and feasibility of your proposed dissertation topic, to ascertain whether you need to take any additional courses to demonstrate preparedness for the preliminary exam, and to decide the format of the written dissertation proposal (see below).  If you fail to meet with your committee before the end of the 3rd semester, the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) will notify you in writing, and will discuss with you and your advisor ways to resolve any difficulties. 
  • Preferably by the end of the 4 th semester, but certainly by the end of the 6 th semester, you must pass an oral preliminary examination to establish candidacy for the Ph.D. One week prior to the exam, you must present a written essay describing your proposed dissertation research to your committee. The exam itself will cover the specific research areas addressed in your proposal, but will also test your depth of knowledge in your area of specialty and your breadth of knowledge in Biology as a whole.
  • When the dissertation research is completed, you will present the written dissertation to your committee two weeks prior to the dissertation defense (the dissertation also has to be submitted to the Grad School two weeks before the defense). You are also required to present your results in a seminar. You are expected to complete the degree requirements as soon as possible, but students making progress toward their degree will be considered to be in good standing through the 12 th semester. 

You are required to declare a minor at the time of the initial meeting with your dissertation committee. At least one member of the dissertation committee must represent the minor field, and will be charged with assessing your knowledge in the minor during the preliminary exam.  The goal of the minor is to ensure that you acquire a breadth of knowledge beyond your immediate specialty, either in a different area of Biology or in an allied field. Dissertation committees have the freedom to determine the specific nature of the minor, to tailor it to your needs, but minors are subject to approval by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Affairs Committee.

The minor may:

  • lie entirely outside Biology (e.g., Statistics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Engineering, Atmospheric Sciences, Geology);
  • require the student to acquire knowledge about a group of organisms that differs from those on which the student’s dissertation research focuses; or
  • represent a biological subdiscipline that is distinct from the student’s own subdiscipline.  For example, a student whose advisor is in the Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology sub-department might choose Developmental, Cellular, and Molecular Biology (DCMB) as a minor, with appropriate representation by a DCMB faculty member on the preliminary exam and dissertation committees. A student in ecology might choose evolutionary biology as a minor.

Scholarly productivity

To become recognized as independent scientists and to have an impact on their fields, graduate students must communicate their findings to their colleagues. Therefore, all students are strongly encouraged to begin submitting the results of their research to refereed journals as soon as possible (ideally well before the dissertation is completed). In order to give their committee members an opportunity to comment on them, manuscripts that are intended to be included in the dissertation will be given to all committee members at least two weeks prior to submission. You should submit copies of papers accepted for publication to the Director of Graduate Studies, to be included your file. 

You will be required to serve as a teaching assistant for two semesters. Teaching is not simply a mechanism to provide financial support to graduate students. Rather, it is an integral part of your professional development as both an educator and a researcher.

Annual evaluation of student progress

  • After your 1 st year you will meet with your committee annually.
  • In your 2 nd year, your first committee meeting serves as the annual committee meeting.
  • In your 3 rd year, your Preliminary Exam will serve this purpose if you take it in the Fall.

You MUST have an annual progress meeting with your committee each Fall, UNLESS:

  • you are in your 1 st or 2 nd year;
  • you are in your 3 rd year and are taking your prelim this Fall (not Spring, and not in your 2 nd year); or
  • you are defending your dissertation this year.
  • Prior to November 15, you are expected to present to your committee a written report on the progress made over the previous year, and on any difficulties encountered, as well as a plan for completing the dissertation.
  • Before the end of the final exam period in December, your advisor will then convene a meeting of the committee to discuss the progress report with you.
  • By January 1, your advisor must send a letter to the Director of Graduate Studies summarizing this discussion, providing the committee’s evaluation of your progress, and recommending whether you should receive continued financial support from the department. The progress report you submitted to your committee should be attached to this letter. All faculty members not on your committee will also be able to submit to the Director of Graduate Studies any written commentary on the student’s performance (e.g., as a student or teaching assistant in a course taught by that faculty member).  
  • After January 1, the Director of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the Graduate Affairs Committee as needed, will review the written materials to determine whether you shall be granted departmental support for the following academic year. You will receive a letter from the DGS if any remedial measures need to be taken. Your written progress report, your advisor’s letter to the DGS, any letters from faculty not on your committee, and any letters from the DGS will be placed in your folder as a record of your annual progress and evaluation. 

Committee Meetings, Exams, and Defenses during Summer

Scheduling committee meetings, preliminary exams, and dissertation defenses during the summer is strongly discouraged, because faculty members typically have research or other travel plans that must take precedence during this time. Summer meetings, exams, and defenses can only be scheduled by agreement of all members of the committee. In accordance with Graduate School regulations, such meetings can only be held while the summer semester is actually in session, and the student must be registered for the summer semester.

Note: A downloadable version of the information above is available:

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Prerequisites and Requirements

Before applying to the Ph.D. Program at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, review our full list of prerequisite information and complete admission requirements. The admissions committee reviews all completed applications through a holistic review process to select candidates for interviews.


Candidates for the Ph.D. Program must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Completion of a bachelor's degree, preferably in the biological or physical sciences, from an accredited institution. 
  • A minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. 
  • Degree conferral before the program begins (program begins in July).

Suggested undergraduate coursework:

  • Applicants to our Ph.D. program are encouraged to have completed coursework with demonstrated proficiency (B average or above) in their math and science courses. Additionally, advanced courses in biology, chemistry, and physiology are encouraged.
  • Applicants interested in applying to the Biomedical Engineering and Physiology Track are advised to take courses in quantitative science and engineering, such as signal processing, computer science, and instrumentation.

Holistic review

Our Ph.D. program prepares students to translate scientific discoveries into applications that improve patient care. This requires a wide range of skills, aptitudes, and characteristics. Along with the basic set of prerequisites, the track admissions committees take a holistic approach to admissions; meaning, they take into consideration the many factors that make up an applicant. These acceptance factors include:

  • Academic performance
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Research experience

Transfer student policy

The only pathway to matriculation at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is through application during the annual application window, September 1 - December 4.

The Ph.D. program does not accept transfer students; however, transfer credits for graduate courses taken at another institution may be considered if appointed to our Ph.D. program.

Application window

Apply between Sept. 1 and Dec. 4 for the following academic year.

To get in touch with the Ph.D. Program, fill out the form on the Contact Us page .


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Research interests span the scales from molecules to organisms, including humans. We have particular Research strengths in structural and molecular biology, evolutionary biology, genetics, ecology, cell biology, development and neuroscience.  

Doctoral Training Programmes for new student applications

    PhD programmes

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  • UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training

Find out more about PhD programmes offered by UCL Biosciences research departments

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How to Get a Ph.D. in Biology

How to Write a Microbiology Research Proposal

How to Write a Microbiology Research Proposal

A Ph.D. in biology can open doors in academia, government work and the biotechnology sector, among other areas. The road is long and complex, but those with the drive, determination and burning desire for biological research may find fulfillment.


Acquiring the appropriate experience and knowledge as an undergraduate is key to gaining entrance into your graduate school of choice. By pursuing a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field, you'll build a good foundation for a strong grad school application. Brown University recommends choosing coursework that exposes you to individual research, since self-directed research is a major component of doctoral work and post-doctoral employment. And be sure to study. Subpar grade point averages in any coursework could hold you back. Also, working as a teaching assistant can afford opportunities to teach and lecture in small groups and labs, also desired experience for doctoral candidates.

Research Programs

As you're winding down your undergraduate studies, begin to research graduate school options. Reference Peterson's Guide, which summarizes graduate programs across the country and their areas of expertise, to narrow your search for a quality school. Research specific areas of biology that you may want to study more in-depth. If you know you want to study molecular biology, for example, be sure that there are several faculty members in that area of study to advise you. If you're unsure of your specialty, consider choosing a school with a faculty that is evenly distributed across other commonly selected focuses, such as cellular biology and immunology.

Apply to a Program

The application process for a doctoral program, which often includes the completion of a master's degree, can be lengthy and involved. Most schools, including the New Jersey Institute of Technology, require a grade point average of 3.0 or better and a score in the 50th percentile or higher on the Graduate Record Examination. Many schools require good undergraduate grades in chemistry, physics, biology and calculus. Applications also include some standard requirements for any graduate school, such as college transcripts and letters of recommendation. Some universities, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, require you to complete a year of graduate study and an additional exam during your second year before being formally admitted to a doctoral program.

The Doctoral Program

Once you've successfully become a doctoral candidate, you can expect to work through several phases, taking about four to five years to complete. Initially, you'll take coursework in research methods or to fill in gaps missed during your undergraduate years. Most doctoral students then teach some undergraduate courses or act as teaching assistants for tenured professors. The bulk of your latter years will be spent researching your thesis topic under the advisement of a faculty mentor and taking courses that are specific to this area of study, such as computational neuroscience. You may also attend relevant seminars, conferences and work on committees.


The defining component of a doctoral program is the proposal, research, writing and defense of a thesis or dissertation. Gain initial approval of your topic by submitting a proposal, complete with annotated figures if it will assist in explaining complicated biological experiments that will be required. The dissertation typically incorporates analysis and conclusions drawn from large amounts of primary research. During the compilation of your thesis, you will often receive regular feedback from peers and faculty members. Once it is complete, candidates must present and defend their research to a faculty panel; students may be present for a portion of the defense. After you answer in-depth questions on the topic of study, faculty members confer in private and decide whether to accept or reject the dissertation, which is the final stage of earning your Ph.D. in biology.

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How Long Does It Take to Get a Ph.D. Degree?

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Earning a Ph.D. from a U.S. grad school typically requires nearly six years, federal statistics show.

how long to get a phd in biology


A Ph.D. is most appropriate for someone who is a “lifelong learner.” 

Students who have excelled within a specific academic discipline and who have a strong interest in that field may choose to pursue a Ph.D. degree. However, Ph.D. degree-holders urge prospective students to think carefully about whether they truly want or need a doctoral degree, since Ph.D. programs last for multiple years.

According to the Survey of Earned Doctorates, a census of recent research doctorate recipients who earned their degree from U.S. institutions, the median amount of time it took individuals who received their doctorates in 2017 to complete their program was 5.8 years. However, there are many types of programs that typically take longer than six years to complete, such as humanities and arts doctorates, where the median time for individuals to earn their degree was 7.1 years, according to the survey.

Some Ph.D. candidates begin doctoral programs after they have already obtained master’s degrees, which means the time spent in grad school is a combination of the time spent pursuing a master’s and the years invested in a doctorate. In order to receive a Ph.D. degree, a student must produce and successfully defend an original academic dissertation, which must be approved by a dissertation committtee. Writing and defending a dissertation is so difficult that many Ph.D. students drop out of their Ph.D. programs having done most of the work necessary for degree without completing the dissertation component. These Ph.D. program dropouts often use the phrase “ all but dissertation ” or the abbreviation “ABD” on their resumes.

According to a comprehensive study of  Ph.D. completion rates  published by The Council of Graduate Schools in 2008, only 56.6% of people who begin Ph.D. programs earn Ph.D. degrees.

Ian Curtis, a founding partner with H&C Education, an educational and admissions consulting firm, who is pursuing a Ph.D. degree in French at Yale University , says there are several steps involved in the process of obtaining a Ph.D. Students typically need to fulfill course requirements and pass comprehensive exams, Curtis warns. “Once these obligations have been completed, how long it takes you to write your dissertation depends on who you are, how you work, what field you’re in and what other responsibilities you have in life,” he wrote in an email. Though some Ph.D. students can write a dissertation in a single year, that is rare, and the dissertation writing process may last for several years, Curtis says.

[ READ: What Is a Doctorate or a Doctoral Degree?  ]

Curtis adds that the level of support a Ph.D. student receives from an academic advisor or faculty mentor can be a key factor in determining the length of time it takes to complete a Ph.D. program. “Before you decide to enroll at a specific program, you’ll want to meet your future advisor,” Curtis advises. “Also, reach out to his or her current and former students to get a sense of what he or she is like to work with.”

Curtis also notes that if there is a gap between the amount of time it takes to complete a Ph.D. and the amount of time a student’s funding lasts, this can slow down the Ph.D. completion process. “Keep in mind that if you run out of funding at some point during your doctorate, you will need to find paid work, and this will leave you even less time to focus on writing your dissertation,” he says. “If one of the programs you’re looking at has a record of significantly longer – or shorter – times to competition, this is good information to take into consideration.”

Pierre Huguet, the CEO and co-founder of H&C Education, says prospective Ph.D. students should be aware that a Ph.D. is designed to prepare a person for a career as a scholar. “Most of the jobs available to Ph.D. students upon graduation are academic in nature and directly related to their fields of study: professor, researcher, etc.,” Huguet wrote in an email. “The truth is that more specialization can mean fewer job opportunities. Before starting a Ph.D., students should be sure that they want to pursue a career in academia, or in research. If not, they should make time during the Ph.D. to show recruiters that they’ve traveled beyond their labs and libraries to gain some professional hands-on experience.”

Jack Appleman, a business writing instructor, published author and Ph.D. candidate focusing on organizational communication with the  University at Albany—SUNY , says Ph.D. programs require a level of commitment and focus that goes beyond what is necessary for a typical corporate job. A program with flexible course requirements that allow a student to customize his or her curriculum based on academic interests and personal obligations is ideal, he says.

[ READ: Ph.D. Programs Get a Lot More Practical.  ]

Joan Kee, a professor at the University of Michigan  with the university’s history of art department, says that the length of time required for a Ph.D. varies widely depending on what subject the Ph.D. focuses on. “Ph.D. program length is very discipline and even field-specific; for example, you can and are expected to finish a Ph.D, in economics in under five years, but that would be impossible in art history (or most of the humanities),” she wrote in an email.

Jean Marie Carey, who earned her Ph.D. degree in art history and German from the  University of Otago  in New Zealand, encourages prospective Ph.D. students to check whether their potential Ph.D. program has published a timeline of how long it takes a Ph.D. student to complete their program. She says it is also prudent to speak with Ph.D. graduates of the school and ask about their experience.

Bennett urges prospective Ph.D. students to visit the campuses of their target graduate programs since a Ph.D. program takes so much time that it is important to find a school that feels comfortable. She adds that aspiring Ph.D. students who prefer a collaborative learning environment should be wary of graduate programs that have a cut-throat and competitive atmosphere, since such students may not thrive in that type of setting.

[ READ: 4 Fields Where Doctorates Lead to Jobs.  ]

Alumni of Ph.D. programs note that the process of obtaining a Ph.D. is arduous, regardless of the type of Ph.D. program. “A Ph.D. is a long commitment of your time, energy and financial resources, so it’ll be easier on you if you are passionate about research,” says Grace Lee, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and is the founder and CEO of Mastery Insights, an education and career coaching company, and the host of the Career Revisionist podcast.

“A Ph.D. isn’t about rehashing years of knowledge that is already out there, but rather it is about your ability to generate new knowledge. Your intellectual masterpiece (which is your dissertation) takes a lot of time, intellectual creativity and innovation to put together, so you have to be truly passionate about that,” Lee says.

Erin Skelly, a graduate admissions counselor at the IvyWise admissions consulting firm, says when a Ph.D. students struggles to complete his or her Ph.D. degree, it may have more to do with the student’s academic interests or personal circumstances than his or her program.

“The time to complete a Ph.D. can depend on a number of variables, but the specific discipline or school would only account for a year or two’s difference,” she wrote in an email. “When a student takes significantly longer to complete a Ph.D. (degree), it’s usually related to the student’s coursework and research – they need to take additional coursework to complete their comprehensive exams; they change the focus of their program or dissertation, requiring extra coursework or research; or their research doesn’t yield the results they hoped for, and they need to generate a new theory and conduct more research.”

Skelly warns that the average completion time of a Ph.D. program may be misleading in some cases, if the average is skewed based on one or two outliers. She suggests that instead of focusing on the duration of a particular Ph.D. program, prospective students should investigate the program’s attritition and graduation rates.

“It is worthwhile to look at the program requirements and the school’s proposed timeline for completion, and meet current students to get their input on how realistic these expectations for completion are,” Skelly says. “That can give you an honest idea of how long it will really take to complete the program.”

Searching for a grad school? Access our  complete rankings  of Best Graduate Schools.

2024 Best Online PhD in Biology [Doctorate Guide]

If you’re interested in the sciences of living things, pursuing your PhD in Biology might be a strategic next step on your educational path.

Best Online PhD in Biology

The biological sciences help us learn more about how our world operates, and this fascinating field has many specialties to choose from. Whether you want to focus on the human body or explore the living world around us, there are many options for you to consider.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Let’s take a look at how earning a doctorate degree in biology might further your educational and professional goals.

Universities Offering Online Doctorate in Biology Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

George Mason University

George Mason University’s PhD in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology program is available 100% online. Students are required to complete 72 total credits. Class options include Systems Biology, Biological Data Analysis, Biological Sequence and Genome Analysis, Research Ethics, Numerical Methods for Bioinformatics, and more. Courses are delivered synchronously.

George Mason University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University offers a PhD in Marine Biology and Oceanography. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for fall, spring, and summer terms. The degree can be earned on campus or online. Students are usually able to finish within 5 years. Graduates have gone on to careers in the government and academia.

Nova Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences. The program includes 4 tracks: Physiology and Developmental Biology, Infection, Immunity, and Epidemiology, Diagnostics and Therapeutics, and Biomedical Genomics and Bioinformatics. Each track can be tailored to specific research interests.

Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University offers a hybrid program for a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction (Track in STEM) that requires the completion of 63 credit hours. Much of the coursework is completed online, but in the summer, students take on-campus intensive courses. Prospective students must have a master’s degree to apply.

Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Florida

The University of Florida offers a PhD in Anatomical Science Education. Students must complete at least 90 credit hours to graduate. Coursework includes Medical Human Embryology, Science Curriculum Development, Medical Histology, Medical Cell Biology, Essential Human Anatomy, and more. Students must also successfully defend a dissertation.

The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

PhD in Biology Online Programs

Two biologists getting PhD degree online

Biology is the study of living things, and there are many specific areas in biology in which doctoral students can concentrate.

Some of these biological concentrations include:

  • Cellular and molecular biology
  • Ecology and environmental biology
  • Evolutionary biology and genomics
  • Epidemiology
  • Forensic biology

Biological studies can range from the microscopic world of the cell to understanding how our existence can impact our future.

Those who have earned their Ph.D. in Biology are able to examine our world on a very different level to understand the “how” and “why” of life as we know it. Those who earn their doctorate degree in biology may continue their careers in research, analytics, or field work. Many PhD graduates even go on to become educators for the next generation of biology students.

The field of biology is expansive, so you’ll often take a certain number of core classes, electives, and courses that are specific to your concentration. Many schools offer several areas of focus to help you further define your path.

Pursuing a doctorate degree in biology can provide you with an opportunity to hone your research and analytical skills while selecting a focus for your studies and potential career path.

Biology Careers and Salaries

PhD in Biology Careers and Salaries

The variety of degree programs in biology can help open the doors to a range of professions in related fields. Your career path will likely depend on your area of concentration, field work, and skill sets, among other factors.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , here are some professions related to the field of biology, along with their median salaries.

Natural Sciences Managers $137,900
Biochemists and Biophysicists $102,270
Medical Scientists $95,310
Postsecondary Biological Science Teachers $81,440
Genetic Counselors $80,150
Microbiologists $79,260
Epidemiologists $78,830
Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists $64,650
Forensic Science Technicians $61,930
Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians $57,800

Many biology doctoral students focus on scientific research in a variety of specialties. For instance, some may aim to develop cutting-edge medical intervention, while others want to connect with wildlife and our environment on a cellular level.

Students who pursue a PhD in Biology are often encouraged to gain experience in the field as part of their curriculum. This could help you narrow down the field and concentration of your studies and potential career path.

Biology Doctorate Curriculum & Courses

Biologist & Biochemists working in the Lab

Since there are so many areas of study within a doctorate degree in biology, you’ll often take courses that apply to your specific concentration.

While coursework can vary between PhD programs in biology, here are a few courses you may encounter:

  • Evolutionary Ecology : This course allows you to learn more about theories and evidence surrounding the evolutionary process and its impact on various species.
  • Understanding Genomics in Medicine : In this course, you’ll get in-depth exposure to the Human Genome Project, and you’ll study how diseases impact us on a genetic level.
  • Cell Biology : From macromolecules to microscopy, this course will provide detailed analysis of how cells work.
  • Animal Behavior : Animal behavior has a variety of origins, from evolutionary to neurological, and you’ll review evidence for all behavior.
  • Biology of Parasites : Parasites and pathogens are common dependent species of living organisms and are the focus of this course.
  • Regional Biology : In this course, you’ll examine how environmental factors, such as heat or freezing temperatures, can impact local biology.
  • Developmental Genomics : This course examines how genes and molecular interaction impact biological development.
  • Analytical Biotechnology : This course combines technology and analytical skills to examine biomolecules and report findings.
  • Cell Proliferation : This course studies the processes through which cells divide or multiply.
  • Freshwater Biology : In this course, you’ll examine freshwater sources, such as ponds and lakes, to examine the overall ecology and health of biological factors there.

Your courses can also help you develop research skill sets for the dissertation component of your program.

Online PhD in Biology Admissions Requirements

Woman preparing application for Online PhD in Biology

PhD programs in biology can have different admissions requirements. You can visit a school’s website or call their admissions office to verify the specific criteria for their application process.

For many schools, doctoral applicants are asked to provide the following:

  • GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)
  • Bachelor or masters degree in biology or related field like an online masters in biostatistics
  • Official undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of intent

As part of the application process, you may also be asked to complete an application, attend interviews with those in the department, and present prior thesis work.

Online Biology PhD Programs Accreditation

University offering Online Biology PhD Programs

When reviewing various schools that offer a doctorate degree in biology, you may wish to only pay attention to institutions that hold regional accreditation. Programs that have earned accreditation have been examined for their educational excellence. This means the courses and instructors have earned a positive reputation for their impact on students.

Qualification for future professional memberships and licenses may be tied to participation in an accredited program. Additionally, many employers indicate that a degree from an accredited school is necessary for employment. This could also impact the publishing of your studies. To verify a school’s accreditation status, you can visit the website of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) .

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial Aid for Biology PhD

If you’re interested in financial assistance for your doctoral degree, there are various options available for students who qualify.

To see if you’re eligible for government assistance, you can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. This federal program provides need-based financial aid to students across the country. Student loans are the most common form of federal aid. Additionally, you may wish to check with your prospective school regarding scholarships or grants available to students who are pursuing biological studies.

There may be opportunities for assistance based on your concentration or prior academic work. Some employers also provide tuition assistance or reimbursement to workers who are pursuing higher education.

What Can You Do with a Doctorate in Biology?

Man completing his Biology PhD degree online

Earning a doctorate degree in biology can help you advance your professional qualifications and skill sets in your chosen area of concentration.

Biological sciences impact much of the world around us. For instance, some graduates choose to go into the field and research various species directly, while others work in a lab, concentrating on genetic development or microbiology. After graduation, some professionals choose to continue their research or pursue a role as an educator and mentor. Others go on to become biochemists, biophysicists, or medical scientists.

Biologists are employed in a variety of sectors, and your chosen doctoral track will impact your qualifications for various career paths.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Biology?

The length of time it takes to complete a PhD in Biology can depend on several factors, including any field work or dissertation work that is part of the program.

Generally speaking, a doctorate degree in biology takes between 3 years and 5 years to complete with full-time study. This also depends on the number of credit hours required by the program. Part-time enrollment will often extend your time to completion.

A program that does not ask students to complete a dissertation can potentially be completed in 3 years with full-time study.

Is Getting a PhD in Biology Worth It?

Natural Sciences Manager working in the lab

Yes, getting a PhD in Biology is worth it for many professionals. Those with a PhD in Biology have unique insight into how our lives are impacted by our own genetics, parasites, environmental factors, and more. This may be why careers in biological fields are on the rise.

Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 8% job growth for life, physical, and social science occupations over the next ten years. A PhD can also help you qualify for positions in research and academia. Selecting a career path in biological sciences can allow greater insight into why our world is the way it is.

Earning Your Doctoral Degree in Biology Online

Woman getting her Doctoral Degree in Biology Online

If you have a significant interest in the biological sciences, earning your doctorate degree in biology online can allow you to develop your expertise in the specialty of your choosing.

A PhD program will also enable you to contribute research to the field. Many doctoral students go on to pursue positions in research and academia, while others pursue advanced roles in the field. A number of accredited universities now offer both masters degree in biology online programs as well as doctoral programs online, catering to working professionals.

If you’re ready to get started on the next steps in your education and career, you can check out available biology doctoral programs offered online by accredited schools.

how long to get a phd in biology

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  • 25 June 2024

How researchers navigate a PhD later in life

  • Elizabeth Landau 0

Elizabeth Landau is a science writer based in Washington DC.

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Krista Bresock sitting on top of a skate ramp wearing roller skates, graduation cap and gown

On a roll: Krista Bresock celebrates in her local skate park after graduating with a PhD in mathematics from West Virginia University, Morgantown, aged 41. Credit: Michael Germana

Krista Bresock sat crying in her professor’s office. She had to discuss one of five questions with her professor, in person. It was the concluding step of her final exam in functional analysis, the last course that she needed to complete for her PhD in mathematics. He’d shuffled a set of five cards, and she’d picked Card Number Two — corresponding to the one problem that she had not fully studied.

Unlike her fellow students studying intractable maths problems, Bresock was in her late thirties redoing coursework that she had failed years earlier. As a full-time maths teacher at West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown, she could find time to study only during nights and weekends.

“Problem Number Two was just collateral damage to being able to maintain this life of work full-time and be in grad school full-time,” Bresock remembers. She “fell to her knees” in relief when, a week later, she learnt she’d still got an A- in the course.

Many think of doctoral degrees as the domain of people in their twenties. Yet according to the US National Science Foundation, 17% of people who gained a PhD in science or engineering in the United States in 2022, the most recent year for which figures are available, were aged 36 or older . In some countries, including Colombia, Mexico, Portugal, South Korea, Iceland, Greece and Israel, the median age for entering a doctoral programme is 32 or higher, according to 2017 data from the OECD in Paris 1 .

how long to get a phd in biology

Resources for mid-career scientists

A PhD requires a vast commitment of time and energy, often lasting five or more years. Stipends, when available, are often lower than salaries for other full-time jobs or professions. What’s more, students might have to move to another city, or even a different country, to attend their chosen course. Although difficult for any age group, those constraints can create different challenges for prospective students in their thirties, forties and beyond than for their younger colleagues.

At the same time, age often brings wisdom and self-confidence, qualities that can help older students to cope with a strenuous academic life. “The extra ten years that I was out doing other things gave me a lot of perspective and maturity to the way in which I think and live, and I think that was a big reason why I’ve succeeded,” says Peter Swanton, a 36-year-old graduate student working towards a doctoral degree in astrophysics at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Motivation is key

For Bresock, a doctoral degree represented “unfinished business”. She had struggled with alcohol and drug addiction from the age of 16, but hit a dangerous low point in early 2013, when she was a graduate student at WVU the first time round. She dropped out and checked herself into an in-patient programme, but still drank heavily afterwards. With the support of friends, family and Alcoholics Anonymous, she became sober in July 2013.

Bresock then taught maths at WVU, first as an adjunct and then as a full-time instructor, but she didn’t forget her incomplete doctorate. Finally, at the age of 37, she re-enrolled. “This little voice was like, ‘You have more to say. You have more to do. You have this thing sitting on the back burner that is kind of eating away at you,’” she says.

Despite her drive to finish the degree, motivating herself was “really hard sometimes”, she says, “because if I didn’t finish, no one would care: I would just not finish and still have this job and be fine.” One of her top tips for others looking to pursue a doctorate in mid-life is to fully understand and reflect on their motivations. If the goal is “more money”, that might not be enough, she says.

Before returning to his studies, Swanton held a variety of jobs, including hauling sugar cane, working in nightclub security and tutoring in secondary schools. He has this advice for anyone who’s considering a doctorate: make sure you’re “doing it because you love it”. For him, that has meant finding ways to combine telescopic investigations of cosmic objects, such as active galactic nuclei, with preserving folklore about the cosmos from the Gamilaraay, the people of his Aboriginal culture.

Peter Swanton preparing a telescope in an observatory dome at dusk

Peter Swanton, a 36-year-old graduate student in cultural astronomy at the Australian National University in Canberra, says that his previous work experience has given him the maturity to cope with the strains of academic life. Credit: Lannon Harley/ANU

Swanton’s heritage influences both his academic interests and the way in which he wants to communicate them. For example, the Gamilaraay language was originally a purely oral one. So, rather than just writing “a big block of text” for his dissertation, Swanton says that he would like to include elders and community members telling their own stories, and to bridge their knowledge with the Western understanding of the universe.

“My success has come down to finding something I am passionate about, and not concerning myself with future employability, which was the focus of my earlier attempts at academia and ultimately the reason why I didn’t succeed” at the time, he says.

Finding mentors

María Teresa Martínez Trujillo arrived at the Paris Institute of Political Studies to embark on a graduate programme in political science at the age of 32. Having spent her whole life up to that point in Mexico, she felt isolated from her classmates because of linguistic and cultural barriers, in addition to being the oldest student in her cohort. Martínez Trujillo had already had a career in the Mexican government, including working as an adviser to the secretary of the interior, yet she felt “less brave” than younger students, and had many more questions about reading materials.

She also felt ashamed about her lack of fluency in French. Over time, with the help of a therapist, she learnt to be less judgemental of herself and to overcome her impostor syndrome. Classmates helped her to proofread some of her assignments and she focused on improving her language skills.

María Teresa Martínez Trujillo looking at a map whilst sat next to a fence near a church in Paris

Cultural and linguistic barriers left María Teresa Martínez Trujillo feeling isolated from her peers when she arrived from Mexico, aged 32, to embark on a graduate programme at the Paris Institute of Political Studies. Credit: Hiram Romero

Martínez Trujillo’s advisers — Hélène Combes and Gilles Favarel-Garrigues — were key for her as she dived into reading and fieldwork on the relationship between drug trafficking and the business world in Morelia, Mexico, for her master’s project. “They let me go to the ‘forest’ and spend time and lose myself,” she says, adding that when she felt lost or stuck, her advisers helped her to find her way.

Time and money

Finances often pose a problem for graduate students who don’t already have savings and support, including those who have worked previously. Even with tuition covered, and a stipend to help towards living expenses, making ends meet can be challenging, especially for students who have other financial responsibilities, such as providing for family members or maintaining a home.

Martínez Trujillo received a stipend, but she spent almost all of it on rent and didn’t want to ask her family for money. She worked as a nanny, consulted for a Mexican think tank and spent summers working in Mexico on friends’ projects. “I’d never have free days,” she says.

Bresock wishes she could have spent more time away from both work and studies. “I did a terrible job of that. Make sure you make time for yourself. That dissertation will still be there, if you go take a walk, or if you go swim or whatever, for an hour out of your life.”

how long to get a phd in biology

Training: Data Analysis: Planning and Preparing

Like Bresock, Marc Gentile kept a full-time job while doing his PhD in astrophysics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne in his mid-to-late-fortiess. He needed to earn enough to support both himself and his wife, and to address other financial responsibilities.

“The top advice would be establishing effective work and study habits right from the start,” he says. “In my case, time was the most precious resource, and I had to be very well organized to make the most of it.”

Gentile would work on his doctoral assignments from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. each weekday, before leaving for his day job. He would then read articles while commuting by train, and tackle more PhD tasks or further reading in the evenings. “I was told that I was, on average, more productive and better organized than most other, younger students, because you develop such skills when you work professionally,” he said.

Family matters

When Wendy Bohon walked across the stage to receive her doctorate in geology, she was nearly 38 years old and pregnant with twins. She wound up at Arizona State University in Tempe after beginning her career as an actor, and then becoming fascinated with earthquakes after one shook her apartment in 1999.

For her dissertation, Bohon conducted fieldwork in India on two large fault systems, focusing on how fast they had been moving, their intersections and their frequency of earthquakes — as well as the growth of mountains around them — over the past 34 million years. Today, she heads the Seismic Hazards and Earthquake Engineering branch of the California Geological Survey in Sacramento.

Wendy Bohon wearing a graduation cap and gown whilst visibly pregnant

Wendy Bohon was nearly 38, and pregnant with twins, when she graduated from Arizona State University in Tempe with a PhD in geology. Credit: Linda Bohon

As a student, her desire to expand her family had put her in a different life stage from younger peers. She had met her husband, who already had a young daughter, while in her graduate programme. And whereas her classmates had wanted to avoid pregnancy, she had struggled to conceive. “That emotional disconnect and the difference in their reality and my reality — it was really tough,” she says. Ultimately, she and her husband chose to try the intensive process of in vitro fertilization, which Bohon mostly kept secret. At the same time, she was helping to co-parent her husband’s daughter, and the couple were given full custody of the girl when she was seven.

Bohon coped with parenting and finishing graduate school with the help of “a built-in village of people around who could step in to help us”. Other graduate students would play the card game UNO with the girl, or colour pictures with her. And Bohon’s mentor, along with the mentor’s husband, became the child’s godparents.

“In a lot of ways, it was easier to parent during my PhD, because my schedule was relatively flexible, so I could stay home with her when she was sick, or attend school functions,” Bohon says. What’s more, she adds, “having a kiddo that needed me helped me to set and keep healthier boundaries than I think I would have otherwise”.

Charlotte Olsen, a postdoctoral researcher in astrophysics at the New York City College of Technology, earned a PhD at the age of 42 and now investigates the factors that influence star formation and galaxy evolution. Olsen says that working on her doctorate presented challenges for her marriage. “I’m not gonna lie: grad school is really rough on a relationship,” she says — adding that, especially at the beginning, “it’s an incredibly stressful time”.

Among the responsibilities that older students might have is taking care of ageing parents. Olsen recalls that during her qualifying exams, she hadn’t heard from her mother, who was 76 years old at the time, for a while. She assumed that her mother wanted to give her space during that stressful time. Later, she found out that her mother’s appendix had ruptured, necessitating surgery and a stay in a hospital’s intensive-care unit.

Through it all, Olsen’s spouse was an invaluable source of emotional support. “Having somebody who is there with you along the way” helps a lot, she says.

What happens next?

Not everyone who gets a PhD stays in their field. Gentile, now 60, works as a data scientist for a Swiss television station. He had a postdoctoral research position for five years after graduation — but for several reasons, including financial ones, he could not find an academic job afterwards. “If I had really wanted to continue in astrophysics, then I would have had to move abroad; it’s difficult now,” he says.

Still, Gentile found the PhD experience rewarding and worthwhile. As well as acquiring problem-solving techniques, he learnt coding and data-science skills, such as machine learning and statistical methods. And he has used all of these in subsequent jobs, including his current one.

His graduate work also remains relevant. Some of the algorithms and software that he worked on during his PhD helped to inform the tools that scientists will use to analyse data from the European Space Agency’s Euclid observatory, which aims to explore dark energy and dark matter.

Bresock received a promotion at West Virginia University after earning her PhD in maths in December 2022, aged 41. Her dissertation examined how students understand the definite integral, a fundamental concept in calculus, when solving different kinds of problem.

Today, she has greater empathy for her own students because of her own struggles as a graduate student. Finishing her doctorate remains one of her most satisfying accomplishments, she says. “When people ask me what’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life, it’s: get sober, and then, finish my PhD. That’s a close second.”


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Education at a Glance 2019: OECD Indicators (OECD, 2019).

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  • Doing a PhD in Bioinformatics

What Does a PhD in Bioinformatics Focus On?

Bioinformatics is the application of computational methods in the representation and analysis of biological data. The field of research has become increasingly popular as technological advancements in computing and greater understanding of genome sequencing and other biological metrics has revealed a wealth of potential applications.

Due to overlapping research areas, a PhD in Bioinformatics may see you work with other departments within your University, including biological science, computer science, data science , mathematics , statistics , and physics.

Some of the core areas a PhD in Bioinformatics may focus on are:

  • How to store, process, analyse and interpret complex digital data.
  • The use of bioinformatics to diagnose and treat diseases, for example, investigating antimicrobial resistance.
  • The use of bioinformatics to better understand biological function, for example, investigation protein folding and transcriptional networks.
  • Applications in molecular structure and interaction.
  • Applications in agriculture, for example developing sustainable methods for food production and improving food security.

A PhD in Bioinformatics can also allow you to use a university’s facilities, industry links, and international research groups to broaden our understanding of the field and find new applications of knowledge.

Some PhDs have elective courses which are designed to further a student’s specific area of expertise in the field of bioinformatics. Courses in molecular biology, microbiology , and cell and molecular evolution are popular electives within this field of study. Students can also choose to take an elective in computer science, statistics, data science or business, depending on the focus of their research project and future career plans.

Entry Requirements for A PhD in Bioinformatics

Candidates applying for a Bioinformatics PhD degree will usually need to hold an upper second class honours bachelor’s degree or overseas equivalent. This does not need to be a bioinformatics degree, but must be a graduate degree in a related subject area, for example biology or computer science.

International graduate students are normally asked to provide evidence of their English Language ability. A number of examinations (online and in-person) are available, and the university will specify which transcripts (and minimum scores) they require. The most commonly requested certifications for prospective applicants are the IELTS and the TOEFL.

Browse PhDs in Bioinformatics

A next-generation genetic technology to identify biotechnologically-valuable enzymes and transporters, ubiquitin-dependent signalling pathways in ageing, exploring the impact of microplastic-bacterial complexes on animal health and the gut microbiome, energy dissipation in human soft tissue during impacts, micro-manufacturing of surface textures for enhanced electrosurgery, how long does it take to get a phd in bioinformatics.

A standard PhD in Bioinformatics requires 3 to 4 years of full-time study, whilst a part-time Bioinformatics course typically takes 6 to 7 years to complete. A Bioinformatics MPhil typically takes 1 to 2 years of full-time study.

Some Bioinformatics courses include additional training modules, outside the core courses, which typically cover transferable skills and prepare you for aspects of research life. These training courses can cover specialist subjects such as computational biology, machine learning biostatistics, and biomedical engineering.

Costs and Funding

The annual tuition fee for a full-time Bioinformatics PhD programme in the UK is typically around £5,500 – £6,000 for home (UK) students. Full-time tuition fees for overseas students are typically around £24,000 – £28,000 per academic year. Tuition fees for UK students studying part-time are normally around £3,000 per annum. The typical cost of a part-time PhD project for overseas students is around £13,000 per year. EU Students starting their programme in the academic year 2021/22 will pay international tuition fees.

Funding for Bioinformatics PhDs is available through UK Research Councils, charities and industry. Most universities also advertise other funding opportunities for students including internal awards and postgraduate scholarships which cover the tuition fees for Bioinformatics PhD programmes. You can also search our database of funded PhD opportunities .

PhD in Bioinformatics Career Paths and Jobs

Due to the various applications and large scope of bioinformatics, there are a number of potential career paths for bioinformatics graduates.

Many PhD in Bioinformatics careers focus on academia. A PhD in bioinformatics salary of those who become professors or lectures can be read in more detail here . You can also join interdisciplinary research groups including related subject areas such as biomedical science, computational biology, molecular biology and systems biology .

In clinical roles, you can use bioinformatics tools to make advances in oncology, genomics and genetic testing, IVF cell scanning and more. This is ideal for those who enjoy the practical application of essential bioinformatics concepts to real world biological problems.

Bioinformatics jobs require specialist knowledge, which PhD students possess. Because of this, the typical bioinformatics scientist salary in the UK is generous, with sufficient experience exceeding £40,000.

Another bioinformatics job is a software developer. Here you are responsible for developing new algorithms and managing data analytics. The salary for bioinformatics doctorates working as software developers can exceed £70,000 at the senior level. This is ideal for those whose PhD project was data oriented, for example those involving statistical genetics, computational methods or artificial intelligence .

Another popular career destination for doctoral students is within agriculture. Those with a doctoral degree in this field can use their knowledge in plant genetics to improve crop yield and reliability. The wheat industry is an example of a common employer in this field.

Other bioinformatics jobs include working as a laboratory technician . As a PhD student you will likely have laboratory experience. These professionals can work in drug development, biopharmaceutical plants, and clinical laboratories.

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How Long Does it Take to Get a Psychology PhD?

Obtaining a PhD in psychology comes with a number of benefits, from the freedom to start your private practice to the chance to dive deep into research.

But if you’re charting out the next steps of your academic journey, the big question is, “How long does a PhD in psychology take?”

Ultimately, it depends on a handful of factors, but you can expect to be in school anywhere from five to seven years. 1,2 Let’s break down the timeline together and explore why earning a doctorate in psychology may be well worth the commitment. 

Get Your PhD in Psychology Degree

Psychology PhD Program Overview

A doctorate of philosophy in psychology is a terminal degree that helps prepare graduates for a range of professional pathways. It’s often seen as an ideal choice for students who hope to gain teaching experience or produce fresh insights through scientific research. 3 PhDs in psychology may also earn their licensure and work directly with clients in clinical settings, such as a mental health clinic or a private practice.

PhD in psychology programs may vary from institution to institution. Yet, they’re typically broken down into four primary categories:

  • Methods and statistics
  • Assessment and treatment of mental health conditions
  • Research – Research is an integral component of PhD in psychology programs. Throughout your program, you may fine-tune your ability to gather information, perform interviews, work with participants of your selected study (or studies), gather and evaluate data, conduct literature reviews, and present results.
  • Clinical practice and research – The knowledge and skills you obtain through coursework and research are taken from theory into practice through supervised training and/or a doctoral internship. Depending on the school, you may also have the opportunity for teaching assistantships.
  • Dissertation – Your dissertation and dissertation defense are the key to the completion of your PhD and a culmination of your academic coursework, research, and hands-on training. While some may compare a dissertation to a thesis, dissertations are much more substantial in scope and typically come in between 100 and 300 pages. 7 If you’re unsure about your focus, we have the top 10 clinical psychology research topics to explore for your dissertation.

Stages of the PhD Program

The phases of a PhD in psychology also range from school to school. Graduate students can expect the following:

  • Comprehensive exams
  • Research proposal
  • Dissertation research
  • Dissertation defense

Does this mean you’ll manage each of these one at a time? Not necessarily. You might attend a morning lecture, teach for an hour, see a patient for an intake assessment, and spend your evening working on your dissertation.

Factors Affecting the Duration of a PhD in Psychology

Several factors may influence your particular answer to “How long does a PhD in psychology take?” These may include:

  • Part-time vs. full-time status
  • Job obligations
  • Family obligations
  • Domestic circumstances
  • Extenuating circumstances that occur during your program
  • Area of specialization

The duration of your graduate program may also be contingent upon the strength of your relationship with your mentor/doctoral advisor and, importantly, what you bring to the program, such as time management skills, motivation, and momentum. 8

The Role of Internships and Practical Experience

Internships and clinical practicums are crucial to gaining the skills and confidence required to transition from your doctoral program into the “real” world.

The type of hands-on experience you gain—and where it will occur—will depend on your program and discipline, but PhD in psychology students usually observe a licensed clinical psychologist in action or work directly with clients or groups of clients. In both scenarios, you typically have the opportunity to ask questions and request feedback. 9

Where do these internships and practicums take place? In a range of settings, such as:

  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Substance abuse facilities
  • Private practices
  • Correctional facilities

The PhD in Clinical Psychology program at Alliant International University, for example, pairs doctoral candidates with clinical practicum opportunities within the community to further your professional development.

As mentioned, a PhD in psychology usually takes between five and seven years, plus, in most cases, a one-year internship. Bear in mind, however, that the factors noted above could potentially delay completion.

5 Tips for Staying on Track

There are several ways to remain on track throughout your graduate studies: 10

  • Establish regular meetings with your mentor/dissertation advisor to evaluate your progress
  • Set firm deadlines
  • Select a manageable research topic
  • Work at building a support system, inside and outside of your program
  • Decompress with regular breaks, whether that means exercise, a staycation, or a quick weekend away

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), studies suggest that picturing the completion of your PhD and your future success can boost your motivation. Getting a PhD in psychology is no easy feat, but you are making a difference in the lives of others.

How We Support Our PhD Students

Alliant International University is intent on ensuring students receive the support they need to thrive throughout their academic journeys. We offer a number of resources to nourish your well-being, including libraries, labs, and online databases. Add an encouraging faculty to the list, and you can rest assured that we’ll help you stay on track.

Elevate Your Academic Career at Alliant International University

“How long does it take to get a psychology PhD” is case by case, much in the way your clients may be in the future. However long it does take is incomparable to what you may gain from your program, from in-depth knowledge of the brain to the finest research techniques.

Alliant International University nurtures these very things. We offer two doctoral degrees in Psychology: a PsyD and a PhD in Clinical Psychology . Both come equipped with attributes that can help students flourish—during their PhD degree programs and after.

Imagine your future in psychology by exploring our doctoral programs today.

  • Kendra Cherry, MSEd. “Different Timelines for Doctorate-Degree Options in Psychology.” Verywell Mind, November 7, 2023.  
  • “Home.” Alliant Intl University. Accessed April 20, 2024.  
  • “Doctoral Degrees in Psychology: How Are They Different, or Not so Different?” American Psychological Association. Accessed April 20, 2024. .
  • “Psychology Doctorate Phd Defined: Explore Academic, Internship and Research Requirements for a Psychology Phd.” Psychologist, March 24, 2021.  
  • “Best Doctorate in Psychology (Ph.D.. and Psy.D.).” | Psychology’s Comprehensive Online Resource, April 12, 2024.  
  • “Daily Activities of a Clinical Psychology Phd Student.” Simply Mental Health, November 13, 2022.  
  • "How Long Is a Dissertation? Here’s the Average Length.” Dissertation Team. Accessed April 20, 2024. ;
  • Young, Sonia N, William R Vanwye, Mark A Schafer, Troy A Robertson, and Ashley Vincent Poore. “Factors Affecting Phd Student Success.” International journal of exercise science, January 1, 2019.  
  • “Internships and Practicums.” | Psychology’s Comprehensive Online Resource, April 10, 2024.  
  • “Revive Your Drive--Six Empirically Supported Techniques for Getting Excited about Grad School Again.” American Psychological Association. Accessed April 20, 2024. ;

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hUMNs of Chemistry #16

Headshots of three people over a maroon and gold banner

She/her/hers Associate Professor

Tell us about your journey to the University of Minnesota.

I first came to the U in the fall of 2006 as a chemistry graduate student, worked in Christy Haynes' group, and received my PhD in 2011. After a postdoc, I joined the chemistry department at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) as an assistant professor in 2014. During my time at VMI I realized I really enjoyed teaching and running teaching labs. My partner and I also missed living in the Twin Cities. I came back to the U in the Fall of 2017 as the term assistant professor for analytical chemistry.

What courses do you teach? What can students expect to get out of your course?

I teach introductory analytical chemistry lecture and lab, modern methods of instrumental chemistry lab, general chemistry I and general chemistry II. In all of the courses I teach students work on their critical thinking skills and how errors effect the accuracy and precision of their experiments.

Tell us about an important mentor in your academic life?

I can't choose just one, but the chemistry professors at my undergrad, Cornell College, were amazing. They had high expectations, but were always supportive and kind. They made learning tough topics approachable and were amazing role models. I try to be as good of a professor as they were and are each day.

What do you do outside of the classroom/lab/office for fun?

I enjoy being outdoors as much as possible. I like walking with my spouse and dogs, running with my running group, biking, and cross-country skiing. I read cozy mystery novels and travel during breaks in the academic year.

What’s your favorite piece of chemistry/science pop culture media? Why do you love it?

I still love the cheesy 1980's movie Real Genius. The idea of blowing up a giant jiffy pop popcorn bag with a military grade laser to destroy the evil professor's house is still hilarious. 

What was your very first job?

I worked as a fry cook at my undergraduate college's snack cafe. I worked the flat top, fryer, and made milkshakes.

Where is your favorite spot in the Twin Cities?

I love the trailhead @ Theodore Wirth Park. I spend most of my winter skiing there and I love how you can be out in nature and be able to see the city skyline.

Tell us about who makes up your household (including pets).

I live with my husband and two golden retrievers, Pepper(11) and Grey(2).

Arceus Pogany headshot

Arceus Pogany

They/Them/Theirs Senior Laboratory Technician

Please give a brief description of your role within the UMN Chemistry department.

I work with Patrick Schildt and Laura Kundel in the stockroom to support various teaching labs. Getting/creating materials, cleaning spaces and equipment, helping with safety and more to have successful classes.

I graduated from Macalester college and found it to be the best time of my life. Working in academia was a career goal, since an environment of learning is exactly what I like the best. I had a couple roles in commercial laboratories before ending up at the East Bank. I hope this is the start of a long career at the U!

Do you have a background in or like chemistry? Tell us about it!

My background is in biology, but that's because it was the most broad science major to pick. I have the problem of liking too many different things to pick just one, so that's why I majored in biology. I've always been interested in organic chemistry, since my father was an avid gardener and he had his compost heap down to a science to ensure the right ratio of nitrogen and carbon to get rich soil for his vegetables.

What professional successes are most important to you?

Improving myself every day. Be it with learning a new skill, mastering an old one, or staying informed about scientific discoveries, I like to feel like I go to bed a better person than when I woke up.

What do you hope to contribute to the chemistry community at the University?

Enthusiasm, accuracy, and a cheerful greeting everyday.

The Magic School Bus. I refused to play with dolls, but Ms. Frizzle was my one exception when mom bought a Ms. Frizzle doll from a Scholastic book fair when I was in elementary school. I loved her so much I almost tore her head off, and mom had to meticulously match the thread color with the fabric and stitch it back together. Someday I'll probably buy the whole series on disc if I can find it.

I worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington as a Youth Conservation Corps member. I did all sorts of things, like painting park buildings, catching and banding birds, clearing trails, cutting down invasive species, educating visitors, and wildlife surveys to name just some of the fun things I was able to do. I really loved the job!

I like to go hiking in the state parks with my DSLR camera. I will usually have quite a few pictures of fungus, moss, birds, and interesting tree bark by the time I'm finished.

What non-chemistry interest or activity of yours might surprise department members?

I started foraging for mushrooms a few years ago and it's been very fun! A giant puffball even popped up in the front yard that I was able to harvest for stir fry. It really is just like tofu for cooking.

Lake of the Isles. Mom and I love to walk, bike, or kayak around it. I keep a keen eye out for the birds, as we've seen kingfishers, egrets, loons, herons, and all sorts of migrating songbirds around it.

I live with my mom, Gillian and one-and-a-half year old cat, Matey. I also have numerous houseplants and a bioluminescent dinoflagellate (Pyrocystis fusiformis) colony!

Are there any family or cultural traditions you want to share with our community?

I have native white sage growing in the boulevard that we harvest and put into campfires to make wishes and share gratitude for what we have.

Daneasha Zackery headshot

Daneasha Zackery

She/her/hers Graduate Student, Douglas Group

One day, as an undergraduate, one of my professors approached me about a great opportunity. She had told me about the Chemnext program hosted by the University of Minnesota. She said if I was interested in graduate school, then I should apply immediately (as the deadline was only two days away). I applied, and luckily, I was chosen to come and experience this community that I have come to appreciate dearly. It was during the Chemnext experience that I realized UofM was somewhere I wanted to be.

Are you involved in any student groups? What inspired you to get involved?

I am a member of NoBCChE. I was inspired to connect with other Black scientists along this journey in higher education to extend my sense of community.

What advice do you have for incoming chemistry students?

This journey is not linear, and will most likely be quite difficult at points, but always remember to celebrate your achievements. No matter how small they may seem in comparison to the overarching goal you have in graduate school, they are the things that will compel you to keep going and keep pursuing your dreams.

Dr. Eric Crumpler was my first chemistry professor and mentor. He is the person who made me realize that I could pursue chemistry as a career, and his teaching and mentorship taught me the value of "people first" as a way to approach being a scientist. We hold a social obligation to use our knowledge and findings to better the lives of the whole.

I am a big foodie and a snack enthusiast!

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  2. Ph.D. Program

    The training for a Ph.D. in Biology is focused on helping students achieve their goals of being a successful research scientist and teacher, at the highest level. Students work closely with an established advisor and meet regularly with a committee of faculty members to facilitate their progress. The Biology Ph.D. program is part of the larger ...

  3. PhD in Biology: Requirements, Salary, Jobs, & Career Growth

    How long does it take to get a PhD in Biology? The length of time it takes to obtain a PhD in Biology depends on a variety of factors, including the program, the individual's level of preparedness, and the nature of the research. A typical PhD program in Biology, on the other hand, takes roughly 4-6 years to finish. ...

  4. PhD in Biology

    The PhD program in Biology is a research-intensive program that also has a strong focus on teaching, designed to produce top scientists and educators with a broad base of knowledge to tackle the most important biological problems of today. This is accomplished through research training, graduate-level courses, seminars, and teaching experience.

  5. Application Process

    This page details the application process for the graduate program in Biology, including the application timeline, application requirements, and information for international students and students with disabilities. MIT Graduate Biology is a doctoral program. There is no Masters offered. The average length of time until degree is 5 1/2 to 6 years. Apply Now The […]

  6. PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

    The BMB PhD program faculty conduct research to gain new insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal cellular processes, and their relevance as targets for improving health and treating disease. Our training program places particular emphasis on mechanistic approaches to research problems.

  7. Doing a PhD in Biology

    A PhD in biology requires a good knowledge of mathematics, statistics and biology. Besides independent research, a PhD will entail advanced training in biology and developing skills in analytical thinking. The typical entry requirements for a PhD in biology is a strong Masters degree (minimum of 2:1) in a relevant field of study.

  8. Biology, PhD < University of Pennsylvania

    Biology, PhD. The Biology Graduate Program represents many areas of biology, and interactions with a diverse group of colleagues provide opportunities to broaden every student's thinking and make connections between different fields and scientific approaches. Areas of research include microbiology, cell biology, development, physiology ...

  9. NYU Biology PhD Program

    PhD Program. NYU Biology's PhD program offers training in a broad range of biological research fields, including developmental genetics, genomics and systems biology, molecular and cellular biology, evolutionary biology, and infectious disease. Our dynamic and diverse community of faculty and graduate students engages closely on all aspects ...

  10. PhD in Biology » Academics

    The PhD is a research degree and normally necessitates at least five years of academic study, including summer work. Applicants to the PhD program must have completed a bachelor's degree in biology or a closely related field. We favor applicants with both strong academic records and a demonstrated aptitude for research.

  11. How Long Does It Take to Get a Ph.D. Degree?

    Kee says funding for a humanities Ph.D. program typically only lasts five years, even though it is uncommon for someone to obtain a Ph.D. degree in a humanities field within that time frame ...

  12. Doctoral Degree Requirements

    Download Biology PhD Requirements (pdf - 107.45 KB) General Philosophy of the Ph.D. Program Biology is the most diverse of all the disciplines in the natural sciences. Consequently, the allied fields to which the various subdisciplines in Biology share natural affinities differ. For example, molecular biology makes connections with physical ...

  13. Doing a PhD in Biomedical Sciences

    Typically, it will take you 3 years of full-time research to earn a Biomedical Science PhD. The duration of a part-time PhD will be around 6 years. Often, PhD students are first registered as MPhil students before carrying out their upgrade viva and their registered status to PhD student. In some institutions, the degree programme offered may ...

  14. 9 Careers After a PhD in Biology (With Salaries)

    Here are nine careers that you can pursue after earning a Ph.D. in biology. For the most up-to-date Indeed salaries, please click on the links below: 1. Postsecondary biological sciences teacher. National average salary: $53,712 per year Primary duties: Postsecondary biological sciences teachers lecture biology students on various related ...

  15. Ph.D. Program Prerequisites and Requirements

    Additionally, advanced courses in biology, chemistry, and physiology are encouraged. Applicants interested in applying to the Biomedical Engineering and Physiology Track are advised to take courses in quantitative science and engineering, such as signal processing, computer science, and instrumentation.

  16. PhD Study

    PhD Study. The UCL Division of Biosciences is one of the largest and most active research environments for basic biological and biomedical research in the UK. Research interests span the scales from molecules to organisms, including humans. We have particular Research strengths in structural and molecular biology, evolutionary biology, genetics ...

  17. PhD Biology

    For more information about the PhD program in Molecular, Cellular, Developmental and Neural Biology, contact Cheryl Andam at [email protected], Chair of Admissions or Dr. Melinda Larsen at [email protected], Director of Graduate Programs. See the Graduate Bulletin for details. Note: Admissions to the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology ...

  18. How to Get a Ph.D. in Biology

    Apply to a Program. The application process for a doctoral program, which often includes the completion of a master's degree, can be lengthy and involved. Most schools, including the New Jersey Institute of Technology, require a grade point average of 3.0 or better and a score in the 50th percentile or higher on the Graduate Record Examination ...

  19. Average Time To Obtain A Ph.D.

    According to Joseph Berger of the New York Times, the average length of a dissertation program today is 8.2 years (2). Terminal degrees in the hard sciences typically take a slightly shorter time to complete than do degrees in education and the humanities. The field of physics has a current average of five years.

  20. How Long Does It Take to Get a Ph.D. Degree?

    However, there are many types of programs that typically take longer than six years to complete, such as humanities and arts doctorates, where the median time for individuals to earn their degree was 7.1 years, according to the survey. Some Ph.D. candidates begin doctoral programs after they have already obtained master's degrees, which means ...

  21. How Long Does It Take To Get a PhD?

    A PhD program typically takes four to seven years, but a variety of factors can impact that timeline. A PhD, or doctorate degree, is the highest degree you can earn in certain disciplines, such as psychology, engineering, education, and mathematics. As a result, it often takes longer to earn than it does for a bachelor's or master's degree.

  22. 2024 Best Online PhD in Biology [Doctorate Guide]

    How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Biology? The length of time it takes to complete a PhD in Biology can depend on several factors, including any field work or dissertation work that is part of the program. Generally speaking, a doctorate degree in biology takes between 3 years and 5 years to complete with full-time study. This also depends ...

  23. Doing a PhD in Biochemistry

    In the UK, a full-time doctoral student will usually take 3 years to complete their PhD in Biochemistry. Part-time PhD students should expect to take closer to 6 years to complete their research project. Most Biochemistry PhD students will first register as MPhil students, typically completing an upgrade viva after 18 months, before officially ...

  24. Graduate Program

    The Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences provides an integrated course of study for students seeking a PhD or MS degree in health-related research. Areas of strength include cell biology and cell signaling pathways, molecular biology and molecular medicine, genetics, biochemistry, developmental biology, cancer ...

  25. How researchers navigate a PhD later in life

    A PhD requires a vast commitment of time and energy, often lasting five or more years. Stipends, when available, are often lower than salaries for other full-time jobs or professions.

  26. Doing a PhD in Bioinformatics

    The annual tuition fee for a full-time Bioinformatics PhD programme in the UK is typically around £5,500 - £6,000 for home (UK) students. Full-time tuition fees for overseas students are typically around £24,000 - £28,000 per academic year. Tuition fees for UK students studying part-time are normally around £3,000 per annum.

  27. How Long Does it Take to Get a Psychology PhD?

    "How long does it take to get a psychology PhD" is case by case, much in the way your clients may be in the future. However long it does take is incomparable to what you may gain from your program, from in-depth knowledge of the brain to the finest research techniques. Alliant International University nurtures these very things.

  28. hUMNs of Chemistry #16

    Kyle Bantz. She/her/hers Associate Professor. Tell us about your journey to the University of Minnesota. I first came to the U in the fall of 2006 as a chemistry graduate student, worked in Christy Haynes' group, and received my PhD in 2011.