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University of Pittsburgh    
2016-2017 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 25, 2024
2016-2017 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Biological Sciences, PhD

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A PhD in biological sciences involves four or more years of study and requires the completion of 72 credits. Specific requirements are as follow:

  • Graduate Courses. Students in both the MCDB and EE programs are required to take 4 graduate-level courses within the first two years.
  • Seminar Courses. MCDB students take two semesters of Biological Sciences Seminar (BIOSC 2450 ) in the first year. EE students take two semesters of Seminar in Ecology (BIOSC 2540 ) in the first two years.
  • Communications workshops. Students must complete three 1-credit Communication in the Biological Sciences workshops, one each in Grants, Papers, and Seminars.
  • Research Rotations. Both MCDB and EE students perform research rotations in the first year in at least two (EE) or three (MCDB) different labs.
  • Research Ethics. Students must complete a workshop in the ethical performance of scientific research in the first year.
  • Seminars. MCDB and EE students must attend the weekly MCDB Student Research Seminar (BIOSC 2050 ) and EE Student Research Seminar (BIOSC 2050 ), respectively. After the first year, students must present their research at these seminars once per year. Students must also attend the weekly Departmental Seminar presented by outside scholars.
  • Preliminary Review. Advancement to the second year of study requires successful completion of courses with an overall average of B or better, satisfactory performance in research rotations and the identification of a research mentor.
  • Dissertation Research. MCDB students choose a dissertation advisor by the end of the second semester. Typically, students in the E&E program identify a research advisor prior to entry. Each student also has a Dissertation Committee made up of three other members of Department and an outside member and must meet with this committee at least once a year. Students are expected to establish their dissertation research topic during the second year.
  • Comprehensive Exam. Taken in the second year, this is designed to test a student’s general knowledge of MCDB or EE and their detailed knowledge of one particular area.
  • Teaching. Each student must act as a Teaching Assistant for one semester. Students may teach more than this in particular if they take part in the Teaching Minor Program .
  • Admission to Candidacy for the PhD Degree. This is based upon research performance and satisfactory completion of the comprehensive exam. Admission to candidacy is decided at a special overview meeting of the Dissertation Committee.
  • PhD Defense. The PhD is awarded following successful defense of the dissertation with a public seminar and satisfaction of all other University, department, and program requirements.

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