Apr 12, 2024  
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog 

Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences

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A student seeking admission to the Ph.D. program in biological sciences must meet all the requirements for admission to the Graduate School; must have a baccalaureate or master’s degree in the biological sciences or a related field; and should have courses equivalent to those required for the B.S. degree at Northern Illinois University, including organismal diversity, two semesters of principles of biology, and genetics; chemistry through one year of organic, one year of physics, and mathematics through introductory calculus. Such courses not completed before admission to the program, as well as other undergraduate courses deemed appropriate to the pursuit of the Ph.D. degree in a particular area of biological sciences, may be required and must be taken early in the student’s program.

Although applicants are not required to submit scores other than the GRE General Test score required for admission to the Graduate School, the submission of scores on either the GRE Subject Test in biology or biochemistry, or on the MCAT, could enhance their application.

During the admissions process, the student must indicate an area of study in the department and obtain a faculty adviser in that area who will agree to plan the student’s first year of study.

Check departmental information for any additional requirements.

The student learning outcomes for this degree are located at http://www.niu.edu/assessment/clearinghouse/outcomes/index.shtml.


Each student’s program must consist of at least 90 semester hours of graduate credit, including successful completion of the following courses.

If a student has completed the equivalent of BIOS 570X (or BIOS 572X and BIOS 573X) and/or BIOS 670 with a grade of C or better, the course may be waived as a requirement in the graduate program, and other course work substituted, with the approval of the department.

Additional Requirements

By the end of the student’s second semester, the chair of his or her doctoral committee will be selected with the approval of the department chair. The department chair, in consultation with the chair of the doctoral committee and the student, will nominate a doctoral committee to be appointed by the dean of the Graduate School. This committee will consist of no fewer than five members, including at least one person from outside the student’s research field. Adjunct graduate faculty may serve on the doctoral committee; a majority of the committee, however, must be regular members of the graduate faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences. Replacements which may be required on the committee will be nominated by the remaining committee members and the department chair from among qualified faculty in consultation with the student.

The doctoral committee will consult with the student in the formulation of a program of courses and research study for the duration of the Ph.D. program. The committee will meet with the student at least once a year to evaluate progress toward completion of the degree requirements. This evaluation may include written and oral presentations required of the student by the committee. This committee assessment of the student’s progress will appraise the student’s background knowledge and his or her competence in carrying out original independent research and will determine whether the student will be retained in the Ph.D. program.

The Department of Biological Sciences research-tool requirement is fulfilled by completing BIOS 670 and either BIOS 570X or BIOS 572X and BIOS 573X, which are required for the doctoral program, plus one additional graduate-level course approved by the student’s doctoral committee.

The student must pass a candidacy examination consisting of written and oral portions and administered by the doctoral committee. This examination will include a comprehensive coverage of the student’s academic background to enable the committee to evaluate the student’s potential for successful completion of the Ph.D. degree program. This examination will be taken at a time designated by the doctoral committee, but no sooner than the completion of the first 27 graduate-level semester hours and no later than the completion of the first 60 graduate credit hours, to be applied to the Ph.D. program. A student who fails this examination may, with the permission of the committee, repeat it once; the repeated examination will be at a time designated by the committee, but no sooner than the lapse of one semester and no later than eight months before granting of the degree.

After the student has completed all other requirements for the degree, including the writing of a dissertation on a research topic approved by the student’s doctoral committee, an oral defense of the dissertation will be conducted by the doctoral committee.

The doctoral candidate will present a public lecture, based on his or her dissertation.

Following approval of the dissertation by the doctoral committee, acceptable copies must be submitted to the Graduate School.

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