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Ph.D Program Option

The primary graduate degree offered by the Department of Biology is the doctor of philosophy. The serious student will find our programs both challenging and rewarding, with ample opportunities for individual training in his or her chosen field. In addition to scholarly pursuits, many students find time to enjoy the cultural and recreational activities that help make the Eugene area an attractive place in which to live.

One of four research institutes (Institute of Molecular Biology, Institute of Neuroscience, Institute of Ecology & Evolution, Oregon Institute of Marine Biology) provides a “home” for Ph.D. training including activities such as required coursework, Institute retreats, annual speaking opportunities, quarterly & proposal exams, and participation in hosting seminar speakers. ¬†Prospective students will be considered for one or more Institute-tracks depending on the research interests indicated on their application. ¬†Following their first year and identifying a thesis lab, outstanding students may be selected for specialized training as part of shared training programs that include training faculty across Institutes and other Departments, including Chemistry & Biochemistry, Physics, and Mathematics.

The course of study for the Ph.D culminates in the oral public defense of a dissertation that is a significant contribution to the field of study. In order to choose a research topic for the dissertation, students participate in a rotation program during their first year of study. The rotation program provides an opportunity to carry out research in a different laboratory each term, thereby obtaining direct experience with both thinking about and participating in a variety of research problems. Students generally select a laboratory in which to conduct their dissertation research at the end of the first year.

In the Fall term of the second year, all Ph.D students will write a research proposal and defend it in an oral presentation. The purpose of the oral proposal defense is for students to demonstrate their ability to think critically about an area of research, and to defend their research proposal. The subject of the proposal may be in any area of the biological sciences. The student, in consultation with the dissertation adviser, then selects a dissertation committee of five faculty members.

The students in our program take very few required courses. Entering students are advised by a faculty committee in choosing courses to develop their knowledge and understanding of the selected core research area. The only required course for all Biology students is Ethics in Research. All other graded courses (typically there are only 2-4 required courses for each student) are determined by the institute and specific research area the student will be in.

For complete details on the Ph.D program, please see the Student Handbook.

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