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Frequently Asked Questions

How many people are in the UO Department of Biology?

We currently have 68 Ph.D. students, 14 MS students, and 18 BGMP (MS internship) students. There are 47 research-active faculty and 14 faculty instructors who teach undergraduate courses.  We are currently run 4-7 faculty searches per year, so we are growing rapidly! Other than Biology professors, our students work with principal investigators in many departments, including Chemistry and Biochemistry, Psychology, Computer Science, Environmental Studies, Physics, Math, Geography, and Anthropology.

Does the department provide funding to PhD students?

Yes, all PhD students receive an annual stipend, a tuition waiver, and health insurance. There are also several training grants available to Ph.D. students in the Biology Department. For more information, see FUNDING. Master’s students may be supported on TA or research contracts (at the same rate as the PhD students), but funding is not guaranteed for MS students.

How much is the stipend?

Our graduate stipend is $26,000 paid over 12 months. Current levels are more than adequate to support a student in graduate school in Eugene. When you compare stipends for different programs, you should consider cost-of-living in those cities (there are websites that make quick work of that!). In addition to the stipend, PhD students and MS student who are on a contract (TA, research, administrative) or are on a training grant receive a tuition waiver and health insurance during the terms they are paid by the university.

How do I choose a lab to work in?

Students rotate through three research labs during their first year. Lab rotations help students identify the laboratory in which they will pursue their dissertation research. We are proud of being an interdisciplinary research program and believe that many different perspectives and approaches lead to faster and more accurate answers and solutions.Therefore, rotations with faculty members outside the research institute to which a student is admitted are encouraged. Only PhD students complete rotations. Master’s students are directly admitted into a lab when the are offered admission.

Why do we do lab rotations?

Although many students enter with research interests and a preference for a research adviser, these preferences often change after starting graduate school. To assist students in making these decisions, new graduate students rotate through three laboratories during their first year. The purpose of these rotations is to offer a relaxed intellectual atmosphere in which students can be introduced to research, exposed to a laboratory environment, and become familiar with various experimental techniques and philosophies. The rotations also help students identify a laboratory and supervisor for their dissertation research.

What are the course work requirements?

There are relatively few formal course requirements for the PhD program in Biology. Each incoming student meets with a faculty committee that recommends specific courses that fit the student’s background and goals. Recommendations generally include traditional courses in biology and related subject areas, as well as for-credit, non-graded activities such as journal clubs, seminars, and research. Specific course requirements vary with the student’s research institute or center, but typically do not exceed three one-term courses. All students participate in journal clubs and seminars each term during the academic year and participate in research throughout the year (including summer).

Master’s students will need to meet the minimum requirements established by the UO Graduate School. The specific courses are decided on by the student and their advisor.

How much time is spent in the lab?

This depends in part on the expectations of the advisor, but it also depends on the efficiency and productivity of the student. Research should be considered a full-time job if you expect to complete your graduate work in a reasonable amount of time. We do not have a part-time graduate program.

How much time is spent teaching?

Each PhD student is required to be a teach assistant for three terms. This requirement is usually completed during the first year. Courses taught depend on the student’s experience and those of the student’s academic department. Some students teach additional terms because they are interested in gaining more experience (particularly if it fits with their career goals) or they join a lab with limited funding options.

There is not a minimum teaching requirement for master’s students. Teaching assistantships are given to master’s students whenever they are available so that they can receive pay and benefits while in the program.

What are the minimum GPA and GRE scores for admission?

As of Fall 2017, we no longer use the GRE. You should not send your scores to the Department of Biology and there is not a place to put your scores on the application.

The admissions committee bases its decisions on a combined assessment of the letters of recommendation, research experience, personal statement, grades, answers provided to questions on the application, and an interview. The GPA is just one component of a larger view of the applicant’s potential for success.

Do you accept international students?

Yes, we accept both domestic and international students. See Details for International Applications.

How long does it typically take to complete the program?

Students typically complete the PhD program in 5-6 years. Master’s students usually finish in 2 years.



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