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Biology Ph.D. (Purdue degree)

Offered by: Biology Department The degree of Doctor of Philosophy can be pursued in the Department of Biology through the Purdue University Graduate School. The Ph.D. requires a total of 90 credit hours of registration. All requirements for the degree can be fulfilled in Indianapolis.

Why Choose This Program?

Objective of Study for the Ph.D. Degree:

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy, the highest degree conferred by Purdue University, can be pursued in the Department of Biology at IUPUI. The doctoral degree is restricted to those scholars who have demonstrated superior ability in a recognized academic discipline. The Ph.D. degree is not awarded on the basis of time spent in residence or following the completion of any specific number of formal courses, nor is the degree granted on the basis of miscellaneous studies and research effort. The entire Ph.D. program must be rationally related, highly research-oriented, and culminate in a thesis of scholarly merit indicative of the candidate’s ability to conduct original research in a recognized field of specialization. Ph.D. programs are directed by professors who work in close association with selected graduate students.

In practice, doctoral programs are composed of formal courses, guided individual study in a chosen field or discipline, study on cognate subjects as may be required by the candidate’s advisory committee, and original research that serves as the basis of a scholarly thesis. Students graduating from the Department of Biology with Ph.D. degrees have been successful in obtaining post-doctoral research experience and have gone on to secure faculty positions at accredited institutions of higher learning or research positions in industry or government.

See Biology PhD's

What will you learn?

Fields of Study:

Ph.D. degrees are offered in most of the fields available for the M.S. degree. For those students who rotate in several labs that student is counseled by the Departmental Graduate advisor until a thesis advisor has been designated.


Ninety credit hours of registration are required for the Ph.D. degree. There is no minimum number of course work hours required in the Ph.D. program although two separate registrations in Seminar (69600) are required unless equivalent presentation experiences can be documented. The seminar is an oral presentation on a topic unrelated to the student’s thesis topic and is given publicly. However, it is strongly advised that students accumulate during the first two years of study at least 30 hours of registration, with 22 in standard course work credits. This permits those students who leave the program before completion to qualify for an M.S. Non-thesis degree. Plans of Study with less than this number of registration in course work will be approved only with special justification. Students register for research BIOL 69900. 

Choosing a Major Professor and Graduate Advisory Committee, and Formulating a Plan of Study

The major professor is the person who will direct the student’s thesis research and plays a principal role in determining the student’s course of study. Student’s can enter the Ph.D. program either having chosen a major professor or can choose to do a series of laboratory rotations in his/her first semester to become acquainted with various research possibilities.

The Graduate Advisory Committee/Examining Committee consists of:

  • a faculty member of the Purdue University – West Lafayette Department of Biological Sciences, who will chair the Committee, the major professor,
  • a person from another department (representing an outside area), and
  • one or more additional members from the IUPUI Department of Biology (inclusion of this/these member(s) is highly recommended but not mandatory).

The Graduate Advisory Committee is constituted by mutual consent of the student, major professor, and committee members after the student has passed the Qualifying Examination. The student requests appointment of the advisory committee. The major professor initially recommends an acceptable student Plan of Study. The Plan of Study must be approved before the request for preliminary examination will be approved.

Transfer of Credit

Students who have registered for graduate coursework as graduate continuing non-degree students through the Indiana University Graduate School at IUPUI may use a maximum of 12 credits in their graduate program. At least one-third of the credits used for the Ph.D. must be earned on the campus granting the degree. Students entering the Ph.D. program with a master's degree from an accredited institution will have a maximum of 30 credits counted toward the 90 credit hours required for the Ph.D. Only grades of B or better will transfer. All transfer credits accepted are done so at the discretion of the student's graduate advisory committee and only after one semester of satisfactory work at IUPUI.

Graduate Program Forms & Information

Program Information:


General Info:

Admission requirements

Students must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher learning and demonstrate good preparation in the following subjects: Biological Sciences, Organic Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics.

GPA: A minimum graduation grade-point index of 3.0 or equivalent is required for unconditional admission.  An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 does not guarantee admission.  Applicants with GPAs of 3.0 or slightly above will be expected to have a science course GPA of 3.0

GRE:  All applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination General test. For those students who took the GRE exam prior to August 1, 2011, a cumulative score of 1000 with a minimum score of 400 in the verbal section is considered the minimum required for admission.  These scores corresponded to an average verbal plus quantitative totals in recent years of 1170 for M.S. programs and 1200 for the PH.D. Greater than 3.5 is the minimum score required on the Analytical writing portion of the GRE.

  • The new GRE test implemented August 1, 2011 will have corresponding minimal score requirements as follows:
    • A combined total of 295 for the verbal and quantitative sections of the test
    • A verbal score of not less than 146 and a quantitative score of not less than 145
    • A 3.5 score on the analytical portion of the test is required
    • In place of the GRE, non-thesis MS applications can use the new MCAT test implemented April 2015 or the DAT with corresponding minimal score requirements as follows:
      • MCAT: A combined total of greater than 497, which was taken within the last 3 years.
      • DAT: A minimum total of 17, which was taken within the last 3 years.

English Proficiency Requirements:  International students must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

  • The minimum scores required for admission are 600 on the paper-based test, 250 on the computer-based test, or 80 on the internet-based test (foreign students only).
  • There are no automatic waivers.
    • iBT overall score ? 80
    • Writing ? 18
    • Speaking ? 22
    • Listening ? 16
    • Reading ? 19
  • To be eligible for Teaching Assistantships, foreign applicants must pass the English Language Proficiency screening administered by the IUPUI ESL Program.

International Students: For more information, visit the International Admissions Website.

Application Process: 

Application Deadlines:

  • Ph. D.: Recommended application date: January 1; final deadline: March 1
  • Note: Fall semester deadline to be considered for a Fellowship or a Teaching Assistantship is March 15. In addition University Fellowships are available. Those have an earlier deadline of January 15.

Degree requirements

Summarized Sequence of Events

First Semester:
  • Select Major Professor if rotating in several laboratories; some students will have identified a major professor prior to admission
  • Coursework/Research
Second Semester:
  • Coursework/Research
  • Qualifying Examination (typically after the end of the semester)
  • Establish Graduate Advisory Committee (within 6 months of passing qualifying exam)
Third Semester:
  • File Plan of Study (as soon as possible after forming Graduate Advisory Committee)
  • Coursework/Research
Fourth Semester:
  • Preliminary Examination (file Form 8 "Request for Appointment of Examining Committee for Preliminary Examination" at least 3 weeks before examination)
Subsequent Semesters:
  • Research
  • At least 2 semesters must elapse between the Preliminary Examination and the Final Examination
Final Semester:
  • File for Candidacy
  • Submit Form 8 "Request for Appointment of Examining Committee at least 3 weeks before thesis defense
  • Thesis Defense/Final Exam (Form 11)
  • Form 380 Ph.D. conferred at a remote campus
  • Submit final thesis by end of semester
  • Pay microfilming fee to Purdue University Bursar
  • Complete Form GR-79-4A "Post M.S./Ph.D. Information"
  • Complete NSF Survey on Earned Doctorates
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