Ph.D. Program

The doctoral degree is granted in recognition of scholarly proficiency and distinctive achievement in a specific field of an academic discipline. The former 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 latter consists of performing independent original research and writing a dissertation on the results of that research.

Graduate students pursuing a Ph.D. 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.

To qualify for candidacy, 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. The dissertation must embody the results and analysis of an original experimental investigation.

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 areas—ecology, physiology, cell biology, developmental biology, genetics, microbiology, and 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.

Course Catalog

A complete list of courses is available in the UAB Graduate Catalog.

Application Deadlines

Students may enter at the beginning of any semester, with deadlines of March 1 for the Summer and Fall semesters and October 15 for the Spring semester.


UAB is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer committed to fostering a diverse, equitable and family-friendly environment in which all faculty and staff can excel and achieve work/life balance irrespective of race, national origin, age, genetic or family medical history, gender, faith, gender identity and expression as well as sexual orientation. UAB also encourages applications from individuals with disabilities and veterans.