Ph.D. in Biological Sciences


Program Description

The School of Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences offers a program of study and research leading to a Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences.

Why Pursue Graduate Education in Biology?

Graduate study in the biological sciences leads toward the master's and doctoral degrees. The biology program typically has 60-70 full-time students pursuing graduate degrees, half of which are doctoral students. Graduate students join active research programs in molecular biology and microbiology, coastal and marine biology, and ecology and evolutionary biology. Faculty productivity in these areas results in extramural funding, scholarship of discovery and application, and graduate student activity.

  • 1-6 Students per Faculty Laboratory
  • 70+ Student presentations or publications yearly

What Will I Learn?

Graduate students develop a program of study and research in close collaboration with a faculty mentor and advisory committee. Students typically complete a doctoral program in five to six years and a master's program in two to three years. Graduates of the department are enjoying careers with governmental agencies, health facilities, industry, academic and research institutions, and in public education.

Scholarship Opportunities

Prospective graduate students are eligible for teaching assistantships, which carry an academic year stipend of $9,000 and $12,000 for master's and doctoral students, respectively, and can expect a summer stipend yielding annual support of $12,000 and $16,000, respectively. Grant-supported research assistantships carry at least comparable support. Graduate assistantships, whether teaching or research, include a tuition waiver and health insurance.

Study Abroad

The School offers one undergraduate/graduate Study Abroad program, Tropical Ecology in Belize and Guatemala. This course involves eight weeks of lecture and research preparation followed by two weeks in the field in mid- to late-May of each year.

Research Profiles

Our graduate program is research-based. Each graduate student must conduct research and write a thesis under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Each faculty member selects applicants with whom he/she would like to work. Applicants should contact the faculty member in whose lab they would like to do research.

Admission Requirements

  1. The applicant must hold a baccalaureate degree from an institution approved by a recognized accrediting agency.
  2. The applicant must have a grade point average equivalent to at least 2.75 (calculated on a 4.0 scale) for the last two years of undergraduate study, and a grade point average of at least 3.0 on undergraduate courses in the field of proposed graduate study.
  3. Applicants must submit official transcripts from all other institutions they attended to the Graduate School.
  4. The applicant must have at least three (3) letters of recommendation from persons qualified to assess the applicant's readiness for graduate study sent to the Graduate School or uploaded into the application.
  5. Applicants must have an official GRE score (General Test only) sent to the Graduate School.
  6. Applicants must upload an essay describing their research interests and career goals into the application.
  7. International applicants must submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores unless a baccalaureate degree is from an accredited English speaking University.
  8. Applicants must pay an application fee for each application submitted.

Granting of regular admission to the graduate program in the School of Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences is based on the following criteria:

  1. Suitability of the student to pursue research in the department. Applicants must submit a written letter or essay specifying their research interests and career goals. Acceptance of the applicant is dependent on the availability of a faculty member to direct the student's research and to mentor the student through the program, and the availability of research facilities to carry out the student's research. Because of the critical nature of the student-faculty mentor relationship, applicants are strongly encouraged to contact potential faculty advisors prior to application.
  2. Student records. Admission to the program is selective and specifications concerning grade point average in the front section of this Bulletin are used as a guideline in the selection process.
  3. Official results from the general sections of the Graduate Record Examination.
  4. Letters of recommendation. Three letters of recommendation should be submitted as part of the application process. The school will not begin the review of the application until all application materials have been submitted.

Because more qualified applicants are received than can be accepted, admission to the school's programs is very selective.

Conditional admission to school programs is considered only for students who meet Graduate School standards for conditional admission and have exceptional research or professional training. The sponsor must provide a written statement indicating a willingness to serve as the applicant's major professor.

The target dates for receipt of applications for admission for the fall and spring semesters are February 15 and October 15, respectively. Late applications are not accepted and all students admitted to the program are supported on either a teaching or research assistantship.

Program Requirements and Academic Policies

A minimum of eighty-four (84) graduate hours beyond the bachelors' degree or a minimum of fifty-four (54) graduate hours beyond the master's degree with a 3.0 GPA is required to graduate. Students must meet the general requirements set forth by the Graduate School of The University of Southern Mississippi. The following are major additional requirements.

  1. Students need to contact potential advisors as part of the application process.
  2. Students should form a committee and submit a degree plan by the end of the second semester.
  3. Gain approval of a written prospectus from a three-member graduate thesis committee by the end of the fourth semester.
  4. Provide an annual research progress report to the doctoral committee after completion of the prospectus.
  5. Pass comprehensive examinations (oral and written) by the end of the sixth semester.
  6. Gain approval of a written dissertation and successfully defend the dissertation at an advertised research seminar open to the public by the end of the fifth year (for students with an M.S. degree) or sixth year (for students without an M.S. degree).
  7. Continuous enrollment - Students must meet the requirement specified in the front section of this Bulletin.
  8. Residency – meet residency requirements in the front section of this Bulletin.
  9. Completion of a minimum of 9 credit hours of BSC 898.

Course Requirements (54 or 84 hours)

  • Elective (45 or 75 hours)
  • BSC 898-Dissertation (9 hours)
Last updated Mar 2020

About the School

Home to 13 schools and over 100 academic programs, the College of Arts and Sciences operates at the heart of the University’s mission to educate students, lead the state and nation in the creative art ... Read More

Home to 13 schools and over 100 academic programs, the College of Arts and Sciences operates at the heart of the University’s mission to educate students, lead the state and nation in the creative arts, and produce knowledge in the humanities, social sciences, mathematical and natural sciences, and engineering. Its faculty integrate innovative research with exceptional teaching and outreach, thereby providing paths to understanding the past, solving the problems of the present and imagining the possibilities of tomorrow. Read less
Hattiesburg , Long Beach + 1 More Less