Apply for Graduate
Welcome to the Graduate Program in the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Arkansas!
To apply to our program you must apply via the GSIE application portal. Required documents include transcripts, three letters of reference, a resume or cv, a statement of purpose, and any applicable standardized test.
Transcripts: You may upload unofficial transcripts initially, but official transcripts should be sent directly to the graduate school before you can be admitted.
Letters of Reference: You will be asked to provide the contacts of three people that will submit a reference letter directly into the application system. This information will not be requested until you submit your initial application via the portal.
Resume or CV: This document should detail your education and employment history in addition to providing any other evidence of your ability to excel in research such as contributed presentations or scientific publications. (There should be a place to upload this in the Departmental Requirements section of the application.)
Statement of Purpose: This document should describe your personal relevant background and future goals and a possible research plan or interests at the UA. You should provide the name or names of people you are interested in completing your graduate work with because you can not be considered for admission into the Biology program unless you have a professor that wants to hire you in their laboratory. This should be no more than three, single-spaced pages (There should be a place to upload this in the Departmental Requirements section of the application.)
Standardized tests: The Biology program has waived the GRE requirement until spring 2023, but they are still required for doctoral applicants that want to be nominated for fellowships; unofficial scores that have been sent to the student from the testing service can be uploaded initially but official scores should be sent directly to the graduate school. The graduate school requires evidence of competency in speaking and writing in English for international students.
Degrees conferred: M.S., Ph.D.
Visit the Graduate Studies FAQ Page - or email the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee - for more information on admissions and programs
- General Requirements - course loads, academic performance and assistantships
- Master of Science - admittance, committees and program requirements
- Doctor of Philosophy - admittance, committees and program requirements
- Graduate Program Descriptions - Catalog copy describing the Degree Programs the Department of Biological Sciences.
Graduate Assistantships (Teaching or Research)
Graduate Teaching Assistants are assigned to duties in specific courses, as prescribed by the instructor in charge. These duties are normally for 50% time (20 hours per week); normally this is equivalent to 6 to 10 contact hours in laboratory instruction, depending upon duties and level of a particular assignment. The Graduate Studies Committee recommends appointment for teaching assistantships based on evaluation of transcript(s), GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and the prior experience of the applicant. Graduate Research Assistants are appointed and assigned duties prescribed by the principal investigators of funded research projects. Students for both categories are drawn from applicants approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. For successive appointments, a graduate assistant is evaluated by his or her major professor, the faculty supervisor(s), and the Chairman. Teaching performances are evaluated each semester, and research progress is evaluated each spring semester. Those evaluations become part of the student's permanent file and are used by the Graduate Studies Committee in the reappointment process. Although appointments are normally made for an academic year, failure to meet the criteria stated herein constitutes grounds for review and possible termination of appointment. Appointments are limited to 4 semesters for the Masters Degree and 8 for the doctoral program.
Satisfactory service is defined as follows:
- Maintenance of a minimum GPA of 3.0.
- Satisfactory performance of assigned duties as determined by faculty supervisors.
- Satisfactory progress in research as reported by the student's major professor in the annual review.
Academic Load for Graduate Students on Assistantships (as defined by the Graduate School):
|Appointment||Minimum Enrollment||Maximum Enrollment||Tuition Portion Paid|
|Spring and Fall Semester Assistantships|
|0-49%||9||15||Out of State portion|
|Summer 12 week Assistantships (enrollment in any summer session)|
|0-49%||3||9||Out of State|
|50-74%||3||9||up to 9 hours + all Out of State|
|75-99%||3||9||up to 9 hours + all Out of State|
|Summer 6 week Assistantships (enrollment in any summer session)|
|0-49%||3||6||Out of State|
|50-74%||3||6||up to 6 hours + all Out of State|
|75-99%||3||6||up to 6 hours + all Out of State|
During the regular academic year students with assistantships must register for the appropriate number of credit hours as indicated above. Credit hours may be distributed among courses, research, and dissertation or thesis.
Doctoral candidates who have passed the Candidacy Examination and who are working on research or the dissertation, either in residence or away from campus, must register for a minimum of 1 credit hour of BIOL 700V per semester and 1 credit hour for 1 summer term. If the thesis option is elected and after a thesis proposal is approved, students working towards a Master's degree must register for a minimum of 1 hour of BIOL 600V for each semester of the academic year and summer.
For Graduate Students not on Assistantships
- Full Time: 9+ hours
- 3/4 Time: 7-8 hours
- ½ Time: 5-6 hours
- Less than ½ time: 1-4 hours
If a grade point average of 3.0 is not attained during any semester, the student will be placed on probation and must maintain a 3.0 average in all following semesters or be dropped from the graduate program. The University policy with respect to academic honesty applies to programs in Biological Sciences. Academic dishonesty is considered unsatisfactory performance.
All students are required to earn credit in two graduate seminars within the first 3 academic semesters. Candidates for M.S. or Ph.D. degrees are required to present a research seminar prior to the oral thesis or dissertation defense. Additional seminar requirements may be specified by the major professor in conjunction with the graduate committee.
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MASTER OF SCIENCE PROGRAM
Requirements for Admission
more detailed information on application and admission is in the Graduate Catalog Description
Requirements for admission into the Master of Science program are the same as those of the Graduate School, with the additional requirement that each student must have a major professor prior to starting the graduate program. All requirements must be completed within a 6 year period.
The Graduate School has a plan for conditional admission, whereby regular status may be attained after a 12-hour program is successfully completed. To remove conditional status, a minimum GPA of 3.0 or better must be attained for 12 hours of graduate credit. A student in conditional status may not be awarded a Graduate Assistantship. In the Department of Biological Sciences, the conditional admission plan requires that the student take 12 graduate hours within 2 semesters or 1 semester and 1 summer session. At least 6 of the 12 hours must be taken in the student's degree program. Any student with a bachelor's degree in any field except biology may be conditionally admitted into the Department, with the stipulation that the student's total hours in biology must equal 18 at the end of the conditional period. Only those hours taken for graduate credit may be applied toward the Master's degree. A written justification prepared by the major professor must be submitted to the Graduate Studies Committee in support of the conditional admission.
Students working for the M.S. degree cannot be supported for more than 4 semesters with a teaching and/or research assistantship.
Major Professor: Each student must have a major professor willing to sponsor that student for admission into the Department and must have a major professor to continue in the program.
Graduate Committee: All students must select, in consultation with the major professor, a graduate committee. This committee is to consist of at least 2 faculty members in addition to the major professor. This committee is selected by the end of the second semester of graduate work; it is then nominated to the Dean of the Graduate School. Adjunct appointees to the Biological Sciences Graduate Faculty may serve on graduate committees. Adjunct appointees will be in addition to the normal number of specified graduate committee members; no more than one Adjunct appointee may serve on the committee. Special consultants need not meet the criteria for Adjunct appointment so long as they bring an expertise to the graduate program committee in a subfield not currently available in the department. The student will meet with the Master's committee to plan a program of study prior to starting research. The student will present a research proposal to the committee so that a program of course work may be planned which will be relevant to the research.
Residence and Course Requirements
The residency requirements are stated in the Graduate catalog. A total of 30 graduate credits are required by the Graduate School for the Master's Degree six hours of which must be BIOL 600V.
The form "Announcement of Thesis Subject" must be completed and submitted to the Graduate School at least 3 months before the Final Examination. Theses are to be written in accordance with the format described in the web document Guide For Preparing Theses And Dissertations,which may also be obtained in hard copy at the University Bookstore. The Master's committee will establish an acceptable schedule for review of drafts of the thesis. Ordinarily the thesis should be filed with the Graduate School 2 weeks before the degree is to be conferred.
An oral final examination preceded by a research seminar is required of all Master of Science candidates. Candidates must successfully defend their thesis. The scheduling of the final examination must be announced to the department at least 1 week prior to the examination.
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Application for Admission
Requirements for admission into the doctoral program are the same as those stated by the Graduate School, with the additional requirement that each student must have a major professor prior to starting the graduate program.
more detailed information on application and admission is in the Graduate Catalog Description
Qualified applicants may be extended early offers for graduate assistantships based on the recommendation of the Graduate Studies Committee and the concurrence of the faculty. Students may apply to enter directly into the doctoral program after completing 24 credit hours of graduate post-baccalaureate courses, as required by the Graduate School, with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
Declaration of Intention
At the beginning of the first semester of graduate work, the student must file a statement of intention to enter the program for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy with the Graduate School. All requirements must be completed within 7 consecutive calendar years from the declaration of intention.
Students working on a doctoral degree can be supported on a teaching and/or research assistantship for no more than 8 semesters beyond the M.S. degree or filing the declaration of intent.
Each student must have a major professor willing to sponsor that student for admission into the Department and must have a major professor to continue in the program.
Doctoral Advisory Committee:
Not later than the end of the first academic year, the student, in consultation with the major professor, must nominate a doctoral advisory committee to the Graduate School. The advisory committee form should be submitted in duplicate to the Graduate School immediately after or at the time of the submission of the Declaration of Intent. This committee shall consist of at least 4 members of the graduate faculty, at least 3 of whom shall be members of the BISC Program Faculty and at least 1 of whom shall be from another department or another institution. The student will meet with that committee to plan a program of study prior to starting research and present a research proposal to the committee.
Doctoral Dissertation Committee:
The student, in consultation with the major professor, must form a doctoral dissertation committee and submit this information to the Graduate School. The dissertation committee form should be submitted in duplicate to the Graduate School at least one year before the defense of the dissertation. This committee shall consist of at least 4 members of the graduate faculty, at least 3 of whom shall be members of the BISC Program Faculty and at least 1 of whom shall be from another department or another institution. Adjunct appointees to the Biological Sciences Graduate Faculty may serve on doctoral advisory committees. Adjunct appointees will be in addition to the normal number of specified committee members; no more than one Adjunct appointee may serve on the committee. Special consultants need not meet the criteria for Adjunct appointment so long as they bring an expertise to the graduate program committee in a subfield not currently available in the department. Composition of the advisory and dissertation committees may be the same.
The residency requirements are stated in the Graduate catalog.
Course Work Requirements
There are no formal course work requirements for doctoral students, with the exception of prescriptive courses as recommended by the Graduate Studies Committee to the doctoral committee as determined from the Biology Subject test of the GRE, and those listed under Seminars above. This does not preclude the assignment of required courses by a student's doctoral committee. A minimum of 18 hours must be taken in dissertation credit.
The Candidacy Examination is related to the candidate's special field of interest and such other areas as the doctoral committee may specify. The examination should be taken in the fourth or fifth academic semester (excluding summer sessions). This examination is given by the doctoral advisory committee in 2 parts, written and oral. Satisfactory performance on this examination will be determined by the doctoral committee. The examination must be taken at least 1 year before completion of the degree requirements. In the event of failure the examination may be repeated at the discretion of the doctoral committee. In no case may the candidacy examination be taken more than twice. Notification to the Graduate School of failure to pass the Candidacy Examination means that the student is not eligible for readmission into the Department of Biological Sciences.
The form "Announcement of Doctoral Dissertation Title" must be submitted to the Graduate School 3 months prior to the dissertation defense. Dissertations are to be written in accordance with the format detailed in "Regulations for Preparing Theses and Dissertations", which may be obtained at the University Bookstore. Also see the Graduate School's Guide for Preparing Theses and Dissertations website. The candidate's doctoral committee will establish the format of the dissertation and an acceptable schedule for review of drafts. Ordinarily the dissertation should be filed with the Graduate School 2 weeks before the degree is to be conferred.
The candidate's doctoral committee will approve the scheduling of the final oral examination, which must be announced to the University campus. This examination is primarily concerned with the candidate's dissertation and must be preceded by a departmental research seminar.
Doctoral candidates may be required to teach as part of their training by the student's doctoral committee.
Areas of Concentration:
Cell and Molecular Biology: Biotechnology, cellular physiology, functional genomics, gene regulation, immunology, developmental biology, molecular genetics, pathogenic microbiology, and proteomics.
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology: Phylogenetics and comparative biology; human evolutionary studies; population, conservation, and ecological genomics; paleoecology; population, community, and disease ecology; molecular evolution; landscape and ecosystem ecology; integrative organismal and behavioral biology.
Visit the Graduate Studies FAQ page - or email the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee - for more information on admissions and programs
The graduate programs in Biological Sciences offer opportunity for advanced study and research to students who desire a comprehensive view of biological sciences. Accomplishment is judged by competence and a developing sense of responsibility for the advancement of knowledge rather than the fulfillment of routine requirements. The faculty requires of all candidates for advanced degrees a period of study in residence, advanced competence in the chosen area of expertise, satisfactory introduction to allied subjects, the ability to communicate at a scholarly level, and a satisfactory performance in examinations.
Specific Graduate Program rules concerning work assignments, committees, and examinations.
Admission to Degree Program:
Applicants who wish to study for advanced degrees are expected to present a minimum of 18 hours of biological science. These normally will include training in the 3 areas of the Biology Subject test of the Graduate Record Examination: (a) cellular and molecular biology, (b) organism biology, and (c) ecology, evolution and population biology. Applicants lacking experience in any of the above areas will be expected to broaden their biological training and may be assigned specific course work to fulfill this requirement. Students lacking 18 hours of biological sciences may be admitted on a conditional basis and are not eligible for assistantships.
Applications will consist of:
- Official college/university transcripts
- Three letters of recommendation from persons acquainted with the applicant in academia
- Resume or CV
- Statement of Purpose
- Scores for the Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical sections of the Graduate Record Examination
- Official Graduate School application form
Deadline for Fall admission is January 15. For Spring semester admission, the deadline for receiving all application materials is November 1.
- All students must have a sponsoring major professor from the Department to enter the graduate program in Biological Sciences. NOTE: To be considered for admission into the program the applicant MUST have a sponsoring professor in the department to serve initially as an advisor and mentor. Without a sponsoring major professor an application will NOT be considered. Applicants are advised to use the Faculty descriptions and the departmental web site to contact individual faculty with shared research interests regarding sponsorship.
Upon admission each candidate will select a committee composed of members of the graduate faculty and the student's major professor. Students must also fulfill the Graduate School's residency requirements, which are stated in the Graduate School catalog.
All students are required to earn credit in Bibliographic Practicum (BIOL 5101) (or present evidence of its equivalent) within the first three academic semesters and in two graduate seminars. Additional seminar requirements may be specified by the major professor in conjunction with the graduate committee. Students are required to present a public seminar prior to the oral thesis or dissertation defense.
Requirements for the Master's Degree:
The Master of Science degree requires 30 semester hours of graduate credit specified by the department to include at least 24 semester hours of course credit and thesis research. Any student who receives a grade of “D” or “F” in any graduate-level course will be subject to dismissal following review by the Graduate Studies Committee. Master of Science students are required to enroll in BIOL 600V for 6 hours of credit and to submit a scholarly thesis based on field and/or laboratory research. A specific coursework program will be selected under the guidance of the student’s major professor and graduate committee. An oral comprehensive examination is required of all candidates, including a defense of the thesis, which will follow their research seminar.
Students should also be aware of Graduate School requirements with regard to master's degrees
Specific Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree:
There are no formal course requirements for doctoral students, except that all graduate students in biology are required to earn credit in two graduate seminars. However, students complete a minimum of 72 graduate semester hours if entering the Ph.D. program without a master’s degree, or 42 graduate semester hours beyond the master’s degree. A minimum of 18 hours must be taken in dissertation credit; these will count in the minimums mentioned in the previous sentence. Any student who receives a grade of “D” or “F” in any graduate-level course will be subject to dismissal following review by the Graduate Studies Committee. Any student receiving more than two grades of “C” in courses of two or more credit hours is no longer eligible for the Ph.D. degree, but may elect to complete an M.S. degree in the program. The Ph.D. is granted not only for fulfillment of technical requirements, but also for development and possession of a critical and creative ability in science and fruitful expression of imagination. Evidence of this is given in the dissertation that the candidate prepares, which constitutes an original research contribution to the fields of the biological sciences.
The Graduate School requires two examinations of all students pursuing the Doctor of Philosophy degree. These examinations are designed to assist students in developing the ability to communicate at a scholarly level and to show they have attained intellectual mastery of knowledge relating to the biological sciences. The first examination, the Candidacy Examination, contains questions related to the student’s field of interest and such other areas as the doctoral committee may specify. This examination is given by the doctoral advisory committee in two parts, written and oral. The written and oral portions of the candidacy examination must be completed within the first three calendar years in the program. Satisfactory performance on this examination will be indicated by either pass or fail as determined by the doctoral committee. In the event of failure, the examination may be repeated at the discretion of the doctoral committee. In no case may the candidacy examination be taken more than twice. Notification to the Graduate School of failure to pass the Candidacy Examination means that the student is dismissed from the Ph.D. program, and the student is not eligible for readmission into the Biology program to pursue the Ph.D. degree. The second examination, the oral Final Examination, preceded by a research seminar, is primarily concerned with the candidate’s dissertation and is taken at the end of the candidate’s program.
Students should also be aware of Graduate School requirements with regard to doctoral degrees.