Ph.D. in Biology: Degree Program and Career Information

Oct 20, 2021

Essential Information

Since doctoral degree programs in biology focus on research, a majority of the curriculum requires students to conduct independent laboratory research and document their findings. They may be given an opportunity to have their research published or lead seminars about their specific area of study. Prior to graduation, they must submit and defend a final dissertation based on their original scientific findings. Doctoral degree programs also require students to participate in teaching programs as assistants, allowing students to gain experience in the classroom. These teaching programs are under the supervision of a faculty member.

In order to apply, prospective students must have a master's degree in biology or biological science. Many programs also require students to pass qualifying examinations.

Ph.D. in Biology

Students research living organisms in the laboratory to understand how organisms originated and how they evolve. They may find ways to use their results to improve the quality of life for humans and other organisms by developing new products, such as medicines, medical devices or alternative fuels. Each student's specific research topic depends on their concentration area, such as evolutionary or behavioral biology. Additional coursework may include:

  • Biology research methods
  • Biostatistics and Biometrics
  • Ecosystems ecology
  • Physiology
  • Scientific writing
  • Problem solving in research

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median wages for biochemists and biophysicists were $94,270 as of May 2020. Jobs in this field are expected to grow by 4% for the years 2019 through 2029, which is about as fast as the average, according to the BLS. In 2020, there were roughly 32,010 biochemists and biophysicists employed in the U.S.

No matter what area of biology you are passionate about, you have the opportunity to study it in-depth through advanced research in a Ph.D. in Biology program. These programs typically culminate in a dissertation, with graduates equipped to pursue numerous biology-related jobs, including those with government agencies and 4-year universities.

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