Biology, Doctor of Philosophy
Department of Biological Sciences
College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences
To receive a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses, from one or more disciplines, ranging from at least 60 - 109 units of graduate-level courses. Most plans require research, a dissertation, and comprehensive exams. All plans have residency requirements regarding time spent on the Flagstaff campus engaged in full-time study.
The full policy can be viewed here.
In addition to University Requirements:
- Complete individual plan requirements.
|Minimum Units for Completion||60|
|Additional Admission Requirements||Required|
|Dissertation||Dissertation is required.
|Comprehensive Exam||Comprehensive Exam is required.
|Oral Defense||Oral Defense is required.
|Research||Individualized research is required.
Additional Admission Requirements
Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
Admission requirements include the following:
- Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.
Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.
Ready to apply? Begin your application now.
International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.
- GRE® revised General Test
- Three letters of recommendation
- Personal statement or essay
- All applicants are expected to make email contact with potential faculty members in the department BEFORE APPLYING. Applicants should only apply if a mentor agrees to support the applicant.
- Knowledge of biology at the baccalaureate level.
- One of the following:
- An earned thesis-based MS degree in a biological or related science
- Demonstrated research ability by being a responsible author on a scientific, peer-reviewed publication (journal article)
- Have equivalent credentials to above, which may include considerable relevant research experience, average GRE scores above the 70th national percentile in Verbal, Quantitative and Writing Ability, experience presenting scientific papers as an author at regional, national or international scientific meetings, with reference letters attesting to the student's performance and responsibility for the science reported at such venues.
- One of the following:
Take the following 60 units:
- Coursework, beyond the bachelor's degree, covering the major principles of biology (45 units)
- BIO 799, for the research, writing, and oral defense of an approved dissertation (15 units)
Please note that you may count only 15 units of dissertation credit toward your degree. However, experience tells us that our doctoral students in Biology end up taking an average of 36 units. This is due to the requirement that you register for BIO 799 for each semester during which you work on your dissertation.
In addition, we require that you:
- Have a reading knowledge of one foreign language or skill in statistics
- Perform satisfactorily on a comprehensive exam in your fifth semester
- Fulfill Northern Arizona University's residency requirements. (For more information about residency and other requirements that pertain to this degree, see Doctoral Requirements Policy.)
- Pass the oral exam on your dissertation (Dissertation Defense)
Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.