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Welcome to the Graduate Program in the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Arkansas! 

To apply to our program you must complete a Graduate School Application form and a Department of Biological Sciences Application form.  For more information regarding our program including faculty, please scan through our website. 

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

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
50-74% 6 15 All
75-99% 3 15 All
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

Academic Performance

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.


Seminars

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

  1. Regular 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.

  2. Conditional Admission

    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.


Financial Support

Students working for the M.S. degree cannot be supported for more than 4 semesters with a teaching and/or research assistantship.


Committee

  1. 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.

  2. 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.


Thesis

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.


Final Examination

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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DOCTORAL PROGRAM

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.


Financial Support

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.


Doctoral Committees

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.

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.


Residence Requirement

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.


Candidacy Examination

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.


Dissertation

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.


Final Examination

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.


Teaching Requirement

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: Animal behavior, aquatic ecology, animal and plant physiology, conservation biology, community ecology, exobiology, fisheries biology, functional genomics, limnology, molecular systematics, mycology, physiological ecology, plant morphology, population and quantitative genetics, speciation, taxonomy, theoretical ecology, vertebrate biology (herpetology, ichthyology, mammalogy, ornithology), and wildlife management.

 

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:

  1. Scores for the Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical sections of the Graduate Record Examination
  2. Official college/university transcripts
  3. Three letters of recommendation from persons acquainted with the applicant in academia
  4. 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.
  5. 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 (MS) degree includes a research-based thesis and a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate credit, of which 24 semester hours are graduate course credit. A specific course work program will be selected under the guidance of the student's major professor and graduate committee. All Master's candidates will complete and defend a thesis. The Master of Science degree requires a thesis based on original scientific research. An oral comprehensive final examination is required of all candidates, including defense of the thesis following a research seminar by candidates to present the thesis.

Specific Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree:

There are no formal course work requirements for doctoral students, except the previously mentioned seminars and BIOL 5101, and any prescriptive courses designated by the Graduate Studies Committee based on scores from the Graduate Record Examination. A minimum of 18 hours must be taken in dissertation credit. Students wishing to bypass the Master's degree must complete 24 hours of post-baccalaureate graduate course work before they can be considered for the doctoral program. The Ph.D. is granted not only for fulfillment of technical requirements but for development and possession of a critical and creative ability in science and a fruitful expression of imagination. Evidence of this is given in the preparation by the candidate of a dissertation that constitutes an original research contribution to the fields of biological sciences.

The Graduate School requires 2 examinations of all students pursuing the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 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 Candidacy Examination contains both written and oral portions related to the student's field of interest and is taken after approximately 2 years of graduate study. Successful completion of that examination means that the student becomes a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy; failure of that examination means that the student cannot be readmitted to the graduate program in the Department of Biological Sciences. 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.