"Baby Sea Star with Mom.""Baby Sea Star with Mom."The doctoral degree is granted in recognition of (1) scholarly proficiency and (2) distinctive achievement in a specific field of an academic discipline. The first component is demonstrated by successful completion of advanced coursework (of both a didactic and an unstructured nature) and by adequate performance on the comprehensive examination. The second component consists of performing independent original research and writing a dissertation on the results of that research.

Graduate students pursuing a PhD in biology may specialize in research activities at all levels of biological organization, with emphases on ecophysiology, cellular and molecular biology, endocrinology, and ecology of aquatic organisms, or on models related to human disease.

A Multidisciplinary Program

Since scientific problems encountered today are multifaceted and require multidisciplinary approaches, students are expected to acquire a broad background in the physical and life sciences. Doctoral students must complete formal course work in or have equivalent training related to six of the following seven areas::
  • ecology
  • physiology
  • cell biology
  • developmental biology
  • genetics
  • microbiology
  • molecular biology

Students are also expected to satisfactorily complete a course or sequence in biometry and any advanced courses designated by their graduate study committees consistent with the chosen area of specialization.

Students must also enroll in three seminar courses approved by their graduate study committees. One of the seminars must be outside the primary area of specialization. Also, every student is required to demonstrate proficiency in teaching by delivering formal course lectures or by conducting instructional laboratories.


A complete description of graduate-level courses are available in the UAB Graduate Catalog.

The Dissertation

A dissertation embodying the results and analysis of an original experimental investigation is required for all PhD candidates.


To qualify for candidacy, doctoral students must take both written and oral comprehensive examinations. A public departmental seminar must be presented as part of the final defense of the student's dissertation.

How to Apply

Students may enter at the beginning of any semester, with deadlines of March 1 for summer and fall applicants and October 15 for spring applicants.

To apply, please visit the UAB Graduate School website.