2022-23 Graduate Catalog

Biology, Ph.D.


The program leading to the Ph.D. in biology has a research emphasis reflecting the desire to train students in the process of science. An additional program goal is to train students to be effective science communicators and teachers. Students entering the Ph.D. program will have met all of the prerequisites for the program, including having successfully defended a master's thesis under the direction of a biology faculty member at TCU.The GRE is not required. Any submitted GRE score is part of a holistic review of each application and official documents are required if scores are submitted for inclusion with the application.

Completion of the following courses:

BIOL 60320Graduate Research in Biology


(At least 9 hours)

BIOL 60703Advanced Teaching in Biology


BIOL 80703Teaching Practicum in Biology


BIOL 90980Dissertation


BIOL 90990Dissertation




Research-specific coursework

After successfully defending the MS thesis (typically in the spring semester of the second year), the student decides on his/her direction of research and dissertation adviser. Based on the recommendation of the Committee on Graduate Studies in biology, the dean appoints a Ph.D. Advisory Committee of at least five members, including the dissertation adviser as chair. Students are encouraged to have one committee member from outside of their discipline and one committee member from outside of TCU. The student and advisory committee agree on a detailed plan of study to prepare the student for dissertation research and any additional required coursework. At least 9 hours of BIOL 60320 Graduate Research in Biology, BIOL 60703 Advanced Teaching in Biology, BIOL 80703 Teaching Practicum, 6 hours of 90980 Dissertation and 6 hours of BIOL 90990 Dissertation are required. Enrollment and participation in at least three graduate-level seminars is also required.

Qualifying examination

The student will prepare a written research proposal for their dissertation research the summer following the defense of the master's thesis. The specific format of the written research proposal may vary by sub-discipline within biology and will be determined by the dissertation advisory committee in consultation with COGS. For the qualifying examination, the student will give a research proposal presentation to the biology department and defend the research proposal to their advisory committee during the fall semester of the third year. The research proposal is evaluated by the advisory committee on a pass/fail basis, and the student will have two attempts to pass the examination (the first attempt in the fall semester and second attempt in the spring semester of the third year). If the student is unable to pass the examination in two attempts, they will be terminated from the program. Upon successful completion of the qualifying examination, a student is formally admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

Teaching experience

As teaching is considered an important part of the graduate training program, each student is required to participate in at least one substantive teaching experience after earning the MS in biology (typically in years 3-5 of the program). This experience may involve developing and teaching in an undergraduate lab or undergraduate seminar class, or teaching in an undergraduate lecture class. For each substantive teaching experience, the student will prepare a teaching proposal that must be approved by COGS and the Biology Curriculum Committee. During these semesters, the student enrolls in BIOL 80703 Teaching Practicum in Biology.


Completion of a dissertation consisting of an original research project directed by a faculty member at TCU is required. Each student presents a departmental seminar on the dissertation research and defends the dissertation in an oral examination before the advisory committee. At least one paper based on the dissertation research must be published, accepted for publication, or submitted for publication and under active review in an appropriate scientific journal (as determined by the advisory committee).

There is no language requirement for the Ph.D. in biology. Failure to meet these requirements may result in termination from the program.