2017-2018 Graduate Course Catalog 
    Jul 25, 2024  
2017-2018 Graduate Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biology, PhD

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Graduate Program Directors:

Jason Fridley, 315-443-3098
448 Life Sciences Complex

James Hewett, 315-443-9613
350 Life Science Complex


Lynn Fall
Graduate Program Administrator
114 Life Sciences Complex


David M. Althoff, Katie Becklin, John M. Belote, Carlos Castañeda, Heather Coleman, Steve Dorus, Scott E. Erdman, Douglas A. Frank, Jason D. Fridley, Jannice Friedman, Anthony Garza, Paul Gold, Sarah Hall, James A. Hewett, Sandra J. Hewett, Donna Korol, George M. Langford, Katharine Lewis, Jessica MacDonald, Eleanor Maine, Susan Parks, Melissa Pepling, Scott Pitnick, Ramesh Raina, Mark Ritchie, Kari A. Segraves, Robert Silver, Roy Welch, Jason R. Wiles

The Department of Biology is committed to research-oriented graduate training of the highest quality. A wide variety of disciplines are offered within the areas of biochemistry, developmental biology, genetics, molecular and cellular biology, neurobiology, ecology, and evolution. Students may focus their graduate studies in Cell/Molecular Biology or in Ecology and Evolution, and some students may choose to address questions that span both of these major areas of research. Each student’s program is individually structured to provide the maximum flexibility in the choice of coursework consistent with high quality graduate scholarship.

The Department currently averages 40 full-time graduate students. About 75 percent of the students enroll directly following their undergraduate work; others come with a master’s degree earned elsewhere.

Program graduates are encouraged to pursue postdoctoral training at established laboratories prior to accepting professional appointments. Most recent graduates have found employment in university and colleges, many after completing postdoctoral work. Others have found posts in government, industry, hospital laboratories, and in private research institutes.


Successful applicants generally have a minimum undergraduate average of B and high scores on the verbal, quantitative and analytical writing tests of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).

Applicants must also have earned a B.S. or a B.A. degree and should have at least a minimal background in both physical and biological sciences, including the following: two years of biology, one year each of introductory chemistry, organic chemistry with laboratory, physics, and college level calculus. Although not required, a year of biochemistry is desirable for students interested in cell and molecular biology, and training in statistical analysis is desirable for all students.

Special consideration is given to students who have conducted undergraduate research and whose recommendations attest to their skills in the laboratory or field and promise in research. Applicants whose scholarly interests are confluent with those of our Graduate Faculty will also receive priority consideration.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrated ability in Scientific Method/Research - ability to independently approach the design and execution of experiments addressing a research problem in a robust way

2. Possess knowledge of their subfield sufficient to formulate and address contemporary research questions

3. Ability to explain and analyze concepts from additional subfields of biological sciences related to their own

4. Develop communication and synthetic skills for presentation in oral, poster and written formats

5. Demonstrate an awareness of matters associated with ethics and the responsible conduct of research

Ph.D. in Biology

The Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 48 credits of coursework and dissertation taken at Syracuse University. Students entering the department with a B.A. or B.S. will complete a minimum of 24 hours of formal coursework. Students entering with a master’s degree will complete at least 18 hours of formal coursework, at least 3/4 of which must be numbered at or above 600. The distribution of coursework and dissertation credits will vary among students and will be based on evaluations by the student’s Research Committee and the Graduate Committee. Students in the Ph.D. program must also pass a two-part (oral and written) qualifying examination by the end of the fourth semester.

A dissertation based on original research must be developed and successfully defended in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Graduate School. The maximum expected time in residence is five years.

Graduate Awards

The current minimum level of support for the 2017-2018 academic year is $ 26,750. with additional summer support available, currently at the level of $ 2,500. Given Syracuse’s low cost of living, this is a comfortable income. Virtually all department graduate students are supported financially throughout their graduate career. Support typically comes in the form of a teaching assistantship and tuition scholarship during the academic year, with students able to conduct their research full-time during the summer. Students may also be supported by their faculty research advisor’s external grants or by Syracuse University Fellowships. Applying to local and national programs for graduate fellowships is strongly encouraged.

Research Facilities

Research facilities currently include AAALAC-accredited animal facilities, a research greenhouse, and local field experiment sites. Extensive facilities and instrumentation for carrying out modern biological research at the molecular, cellular, organismal, and population levels are available. Library holdings and computing facilities are readily accessible for student and faculty use. Our department is housed in the Life Sciences Complex, a 210,000-square-foot building with dedicated and outstanding research and teaching space for the life sciences.

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