PhD in Biology
The PhD in Biology is a research degree requiring graduate-level coursework, completion of a dissertation, and two semesters of participation in teaching (usually as a teaching fellow in laboratory or discussion sections of lecture courses led by biology faculty). For most students, this typically involves five or more years of full-time study. The Biology Department guarantees academic year support for five years for all PhD students, contingent on satisfactory performance in the program.
Students admitted with a bachelor’s degree complete the equivalent of 16 full-semester courses with a B or better grade point average. At least eight of these courses are lecture, laboratory, or seminar courses; students enroll in directed research for the remaining credits. For students admitted with a master’s degree, the requirement is eight full-semester courses, of which four are lecture, laboratory, or seminar courses. Seminars generally count for half a course; thus two are required to replace a full-semester course.
Details of the graduate curriculum are planned in consultation with the major professor and advisory committee. Certain core courses are required in the Cell and Molecular Biology and Neurobiology programs, with the remaining courses chosen as electives. For more details, see the individual graduate program areas: 1) Cell and Molecular Biology, 2) Neurobiology, 3) Ecology, Behavior & Evolution, or 4) Marine Biology. With departmental approval, a student may register for courses at the Boston University School of Medicine or School of Public Health and may cross-register for graduate-level courses at Boston College, Brandeis University, and Tufts University. Visit the GRS Bulletin to view procedures for cross-registration.
The Biology Department does not require mastery of a foreign language for the PhD, but students involved in international fieldwork may be encouraged to complete language training.
MA in Biology
The Department of Biology offers both research and non-research MA degree programs. The non-research MA can be completed in a year and a summer, whereas the research MA typically requires two years to complete a research project and thesis. In both programs, students are assigned to a faculty advisor in their area of interest at the time of acceptance. The Biology Department does not guarantee financial support for MA students.
In either MA program, students complete eight semester courses with a B or better grade point average. For the non-research degree, all courses must be lecture, laboratory, or seminar courses. In addition, the student completes a review paper on a topic chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor. For the research degree, at least five courses must be lecture, laboratory, or seminar courses. The remaining courses may be satisfied by research credits.
BA/MA in Biotechnology
The BA/MA program in biotechnology is a five-year program open to Boston University undergraduates. Students earn both degrees by completing a total of 38 courses that comprise many of the elements of standard degree programs in biology and chemistry, augmented by advanced-level courses in recombinant DNA techniques, molecular cell biology, and protein technology. View a more detailed description of the program on the GRS Bulletin website. Further information may also be obtained from the Undergraduate Programs Coordinator for the Department of Biology.
Kellen Andrilenas works with Dr. Trevor Siggers researching the innate immune system and inflammation from a systems biology perspective. Dr. Siggers is a faculty member in the Cell and Molecular program.
Allison Gill works with Dr. Adrien Finzi in the area of the role of plant-microbial interactions in community ecology and ecosystem function. Allison is in the graduate program in Ecology, Behavior, & Evolution program.
Steve Decina's research is focused on understand the way that plants and soil regulate the biogeochemical nutrient cycles of nitrogen and carbon, and how those cycles are themselves coupled and influence one another. He works with Dr. Pamela Templer and is a part of the graduate Ecology, Behavior, & Evolution program.
Nelsa Estrella is investigating the distinct roles of the MEF2 family of transcription factors, and their roles in muscle development, disease, and regeneration.. She works in Dr. Frank Naya's lab and is a part of the graduate Cell and Molecular Biology program.
Liz McCarthy has been studying the role of the main and accessory olfactory systems in pheromone detection and the display of courtship behaviors in adult mice. She works with Dr. Michael Baum as a part of the graduate Neurobiology program.