Ph.D. in Zoology

Ph.D. | M.S. | Master’s (non-thesis)


It is important that you identify a potential faculty adviser, as this will greatly increase your chance of admission. Although all applications are made available to faculty advisers for review, a graduate student will not be admitted for graduate studies unless the prospective student has identified a faulty adviser.  Once a faculty adviser has requested review of prospective student, the application is then evaluated with regard to the applicants’ potential for success in graduate school only at the request of a faculty adviser.  The admissions process involves consideration of the ability of our program to accommodate students.

Successful applicants usually have a Bachelor’s degree in a biological science with at least an overall B average and a minimum number of courses in biology and supporting fields (6 in biology, 4 in chemistry, 2 in physics, and 2 in mathematics).  In addition to the applicant’s grades and coursework, we consider relevant experience (e.g. through internships, volunteer, or paid work), statement of interest, letters of recommendation, and GRE scores. For PhD applicants we look for a GPA of at least 3.2 and combined GRE of at least 308 (new GRE scale) or 1200 (old scale).  We expect applicants to have average GRE (Quantitative and Verbal) scores of at least 50th percentile for MR and MS, at least 60th percentile for PhD, and no individual score lower than 30th percentile. Exceptions may be granted under unusual circumstances.

Degree Requirements

Students pursuing a PhD in Zoology  work with an advisory committee to develop a Plan of Work and conduct novel research under the guidance and mentorship of their major adviser(s).  After completion of the necessary courses, preliminary comprehensive exams, teaching requirement, and dissertation research, PhD students are required to write a dissertation and present a seminar describing their research.  The seminar will be open to all who wish to attend.  After the seminar, the student will meet with their advisory committee for the final exam.  Students are expected to carry their research to publication.

Course Requirements

A Plan of Work must be approved by the Advisory Committee and submitted by the end of the student’s third semester.  It can be altered only with approval of the Advisory Committee and completion of the necessary paperwork.  Including a minor is optional. The Plan of Work must meet the following requirements:

  • At least 72 credit hours
  • The topic of the dissertation
  • At least 10 hours of research credit (ZO 893-895)
If a minor is included:
  • 9-10 credit hours will be used to complete the minor
  • One committee member must represent the minor area

A minor can be specific to one area or it can be an interdisciplinary minor, which must include at least 3 courses from outside the student’s major department or program; those courses must represent at least two different areas.  A concentration in Behavioral Biology is available to interested PhD students.