UMass Boston

Biology PhD

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Become a trailblazer, uncovering mysteries at the evolutionary, molecular, cellular, and organismal levels.

UMass Boston's Biology PhD program offers two tracks: Environmental Biology and Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology, and Organismal Biology (MCOB). These interdisciplanary programs allow students to explore their interests in a variety of areas. With the help of a faculty advisor, a cohesive course of study is designed for each student from among a wide variety of research and study interests of Biology PhD faculty.

Career Possibilities

Work in academic institutions, research laboratories, or biotechnology companies, conducting cutting-edge research. Contribute to medical research and healthcare by investigating disease mechanisms and developing therapeutic interventions. Or, discover how environmental impacts inform conservation and sustainable practices. These are just a few of the possibilities.

Become a(n):

  • Research Scientist
  • Biomedical Scientist
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Pharmaceutical Researcher
  • Conservation Biologist

Environmental Biology Track

The environmental biology track is designed to accommodate students of various science backgrounds with rigorous training in environmental sciences/environmental biology. With the help of a faculty advisor, a cohesive course of study is designed from a variety of research interests. Faculty in the department conduct research in these related areas:

  • Biodiversity
  • Community Ecology
  • Conservation Biology
  • Deep Sea Biology
  • Ecology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Global Environmental Change
  • Marine Ecology
  • Population Biology
  • Population Genetics
  • Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology

Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology, and Organismal Biology Track

The molecular, cellular, and organismal biology (MCOB) track of the Biology PhD Program is an interdisciplinary, integrative biology program that integrates basic research in cellular, molecular and organismal biology of bacteria, plants, invertebrates, and mammals. Students may choose to concentrate in one or more of these areas: bioremediation, molecular biology and cellular biology, defense mechanisms, developmental biology, genetics, molecular ecology, organismal physiology, molecular evolution, environmental monitoring, bioinformatics, and reproductive biology. You'll also study bacteriology, microbiology, proteomics, plant molecular biology, and systems biology. With the help of a faculty advisor, a cohesive course of study is designed from among a wide variety of research and study interests of MCOB faculty.

In this program, you will:

  • Develop expert-level knowledge in molecular biology, cellular biology, and organismal biology, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies that drive life's diverse processes.
  • Acquire advanced research skills, including cutting-edge techniques in molecular biology, genetics, genomics, cell imaging, and bioinformatics, enabling you to conduct original and transformative research in the life sciences.
  • Cultivate critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills, preparing you to analyze complex biological phenomena, communicate scientific findings effectively, and lead scientific collaborations and discoveries.

Plan Your Education

How to Apply

Applicants must meet general graduate admission requirements in addition to the following program-specific requirements:

  • Submission of the graduate admissions application form
  • A distinguished undergraduate transcript; competitive students generally have at least a 3.0 overall GPA, although lower grades can be acceptable
  • A bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, from a 4-year college or university of recognized standing
  • Official transcripts of all graduate and undergraduate work. Transcripts must be sent directly through the GradCAS application. An official final transcript showing that the bachelor's degree has been awarded and the date of degree conferral can also be emailed to gadocs@umb.edu.
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Submissions of scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Combined Aptitude Test

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL official test score) is required for international applicants. For more information regarding minimal TOEFL scores, visit Graduate Admissions.

The stated interests of a prospective student must coincide to an acceptable degree with the faculty specialties represented in the program. The Biology Graduate Committee, in conjunction with the director of Graduate Programs in Biology, is responsible for reviewing applications and for recommending candidates to the dean of graduate studies.

Deadlines & Cost

Deadlines: January 2 (priority deadline for funding consideration) and March 20 (final) for fall; October 15 for spring

Application Fee: The nonrefundable application fee is $75. UMass Boston alumni and current students that plan to complete degree requirements prior to graduate enrollment can submit the application without paying the application fee.

Program Cost Information: Bursar's website

Curriculum - Environmental Biology Track

Required Core Course (3 Credits)

  • BIOL 650 - Scientific Communication 3 Credit(s)

Additional Core Courses (9 Credits)

Complete three from below.

  • BIOL 639 - Conservation Biology 3 Credit(s)
  • BIOL 652 - Biological Diversity and Evolution 3 Credit(s)

Electives (12 Credits)

Complete 12 credits of graduate courses chosen in consultation with the academic advisory committee.

Students may take BIOL 672 - Directed Readings in Biology for up to three elective credits.

Current Literature (4 Credits)

  • BIOL 653 - Current Literature in Biology 1 Credit(s) - complete four times

Research (32 Credits)

Up to five credits can be replaced by elective course credit with the approval of the academic advisory committee.

  • BIOL 899 - Dissertation Research 1-99 Credit(s)

Curriculum - Molecular, Cellular, and Organismal Biology (MCOB) Track

Core Course (12 Credits)

  • BIOL 612 - Advanced Cell Biology 3 Credit(s)
  • BIOL 650 - Scientific Communication 3 Credit(s)
  • BIOL 676 - Advanced Molecular Biology Lecture 3 Credit(s)
  • BIOL 625 - Genomics and Biotechnology 3 Credit(s)
    or
  • BIOL 677 - Advanced Eukaryotic Genetics 3 Credit(s)

Electives (12 Credits)

Complete 12 credits of graduate courses chosen in consultation with the academic advisory committee.

Students may take BIOL 672 - Directed Readings in Biology for up to three elective credits.

Current Literature (4 Credits)

  • BIOL 653 - Current Literature in Biology 1 Credit(s) - complete four times

Research (32 Credits)

Up to five credits can be replaced by elective course credit with the approval of the academic advisory committee.

  • BIOL 899 - Dissertation Research 1-99 Credit(s)

Graduation Criteria

Program Requirements - Environmental Biology & Molecular, Cellular, and Organismal Biology (MCOB) Tracks

Complete 60 credits from 13 courses including one required core course, three additional core courses, four electives, four semesters of current literature, and 32 credits of research.


Doctoral candidacy: Students must pass written and oral qualifying examinations before undertaking research at the doctoral level.
Dissertation: Candidates must compose and defend a dissertation based on original research.
Teaching: Students are required to participate in the teaching program as teaching assistants for at least two semesters.
Departmental presentation: Candidates must present a seminar of their research nine to twelve months after admission to candidacy.

GPA: Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 throughout the program.
Minimum grade: No more than one course with a grade of C may be applied toward the program.
Residency: No more than six credits from another graduate program may be applied toward the program.
Statute of limitations: Eight years.

Contact

Graduate Program Director Linda Huang
Linda.Huang [at] umb.edu
(617) 287-6674

Alexa MacPherson
Alexa.MacPherson [at] umb.edu
(617) 287-6603

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