Graduate Programs

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.

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
    Deadlline 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.