May 22, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 2016-2017 
Graduate Catalog 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences

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Advisor: Silvia Rossbach,
3923 Wood Hall

The Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences at Western Michigan University offers a unique combination of traditional research experience, breadth of course work, and training in effective communication of scientific concepts. This program is specifically designed for students who wish to pursue careers in the biological sciences that require excellence in both teaching and research. In addition, the pedagogy requirements also provide excellent training for careers in government and industry. Additional information may be obtained from the Departmental Graduate Secretary or Graduate Advisor. 

Admission Requirements

To be admitted into the doctoral program, both departmental and University requirements must be met. Application materials must be obtained from both the Department of Biological Sciences at or (269) 387-5600 and the Office of Admissions at  or (269) 387-2000 for domestic students or Office of International Services and Student Affairs at or (269) 387-5865 for international students.

Conditions stated under 1 or 2 below must be met for regular admission to the Biological Sciences Ph.D. program.

For persons possessing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university:

  1. Grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
  2. Official scores on the verbal, analytical, and quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Examination.
  3. Appropriate courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics.
  4. Three letters of recommendation.
  5. Availability of a potential dissertation advisor in an area of planned specialization.

For persons possessing a master’s degree in one of the biological sciences from an accredited university:

  1. Grade point average of 3.25 or higher in graduate level courses.
  2. Official scores on the verbal, analytical, and quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Examination.
  3. Three letters of recommendation.
  4. Availability of a potential dissertation advisor in an area of planned specialization.
  5. Cognate course work as given in 3 above in bachelor’s conditions section.

Note: Some course deficiencies in admission requirements may be completed after “admission with reservations.” These deficiencies must be completed in addition to the minimum credit hours required for the Ph.D. All reservations, including course deficiencies, must be removed before advancement to candidacy.



Applicancy requirements are those of the Graduate College.

Committee Structure: By the end of the first year, or before taking the first independent research hours (BIOS 7350), a Dissertation Committee should be constituted. The Dissertation Committee will be composed of at least four members, including the major professor, two or more members of the Department of Biological Sciences, and one or more outside examiners.



No later than the end of the third calendar year after enrollment in the Ph.D. program, doctoral students must seek candidacy. By this time the student should have completed the research tools requirement. To be admitted to candidacy, the student must submit and defend, in an oral examination administered by the proposed Dissertation Committee, his/her dissertation research proposal. This proposal will be in the format of an NIH or NSF grant application. Student will be given a grade of pass or fail by the Dissertation Committee. In the event of failure, the proposal may be revised and re-defended once, and this must be done within one calendar year of failure.

Candidacy will be approved or denied by the Graduate Advisor based upon submission of an acceptable dissertation proposal, successful completion of the defense of that proposal, positive recommendations from a majority of the student’s Dissertation Committee, satisfactory performance in course work, and successful performance in all other professional activities, including teaching assignments.


General Plan and Sequence of the Program

  1. Students will satisfy any curricular deficiencies beginning with the first semester in residence.
  2. Core courses should be taken, after consultation with the Dissertation Committee, early in the program to assist in preparation of the research proposal.
  3. Course work pertaining to teaching and Teaching Experiences should be initiated no later than the second year of graduate study.


Financial Assistance

The Department of Biological Sciences offers opportunities for financial support of doctoral students through Graduate Assistantships and Fellowships. Individuals desiring further information about such opportunities, or about the graduate program, should contact the Graduate Advisor and the Graduate College.

Program Requirements

1. A minimum of 61 graduate semester hours. These hours shall consist of the following:

a. A minimum of six hours of distribution credits.

Choose from two of the following three pairs of courses (a total of at least 2 courses). As approved by the Dissertation Committee.

b. Three hours of:

d. At least 19 hours of electives chosen from:

The graduate offerings of Biological Sciences or other departments appropriate to the student’s career and research interests as agreed upon by the student and the Dissertation Committee.

e. Doctoral Research composed of:

  • BIOS 7350 - Graduate Research (15 hours) and
  • BIOS 7300 - Doctoral Dissertation (at least 15 hours)

2. Satisfaction of the research tools requirement.

3. Successful completion and defense of the research proposal.

4. Successful oral defense of dissertation and approval of the dissertation by the Dissertation Committee.

5. Any other requirements as specified by the Graduate College.

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