PhD in Biological Science: Degree Program Overview

Oct 20, 2021

Essential Information

Biological scientists conduct both basic and applied research in hopes of acquiring a better understanding of living organisms and how they relate to the environment. In addition to classroom and laboratory coursework, doctoral students in a biological science program conduct extensive independent research in order to complete a dissertation. These Ph.D. programs often include a teaching component that prepares students to become educators in the field by providing them the opportunity to assist faculty with teaching undergraduate science courses. Many programs offer concentration areas, such as microbiology, ecology, structural biology and biophysics.

Applicants must have a bachelor or master's degree in a relevant field, such as biological or physical science, engineering or natural resource science. They must also have a strong background in general biology and mathematics.

PhD in Biological Science

Doctoral degree programs in biological science are generally research-based, providing advanced professional training for scientists. Program coursework includes both lecture and seminar-style instruction. Students complete hands-on laboratory rotations to gain extensive experience in research methods and procedures. In total, they must complete 72-90 credit hours of coursework prior to graduation. The following subjects are typically included in a biological science curriculum.

  • Biological research
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell biology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular biology
  • Neurobiology

Employment and Salary Information

Biological scientists are able to conduct independent research and apply their findings to help solve biological problems by developing new products or processes. Research can be conducted in a laboratory or out in the field. Employment opportunities are available in academia and private industry as well as with government agencies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment of biochemists and biophysicists to grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations ( According to the BLS, as of May 2019, these professionals earned a median annual wage of $94,490.

Ph.D. in Biological Science programs provide instruction in advanced biology topics in addition to research training that can prepare students for academic or industry research jobs in the future.

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