Curriculum Requirements

All students pursuing the Ph.D. in Biology must:

  • Complete at least 60 credits of approved graduate course work.
  • Pass a First Examination given at the end of the first academic year in the Program (June)
  • Pass a Second Examination (thesis proposal)
  • Teach at least one semester at the college level
  • Conduct original research, write and defend a dissertation, present a public seminar on the subject of the dissertation

Please see the Biology Program Student Handbook (PDF) for additional details on the program's exam, teaching and dissertation requirements.

Students must also satisfy the additional requirements for their chosen subprogram.

Subprogram Requirements

In their first year, students are required to take one course from each of the following two areas. Substitution of any other course requires advanced permission of the EEB Advisory Committee Chair or the Chair’s designee.

Ecology (3 credits each)
BIOL 76005 Population Ecology
BIOL 76001 Ecology
BIOL 76003 Community Ecology

Evolution (3 credits each)
BIOL 70901 Population Genetics
BIOL 70503 Evolution
BIOL 70803 Molecular Evolution

In addition, first-year students must take one of the two indicated options for lecture and lab courses in Statistics:
BIOL 78201 - (lecture and lab) - 6 credits
Biol 78001 Mathematical Biology I (lecture, 3 credits) and Biol 78002 Mathematical Biology II (lab, 3 credits)

All students must take at least one additional graduate seminar course in year 1 or year 2 in the program (For example: Seminar in Evolution BIOL 79001, Seminar in Ecology BIOL 79006, Seminar in Biomathematics BIOL 79008, Seminar in Systematics BIOL 79011, Seminar in Zoogeography BIOL 79012, Seminar in Animal Behavior BIOL 79022). These seminar courses are offered periodically by different campuses and will focus on critical evaluation of papers in the various areas.

Finally, any student who has not taken a basic genetics course in the past 5 years will be required to take an undergraduate genetics course at one of the campuses.

Any exceptions to these requirements must be approved by the EEB Advisory Committee.

In order to pass the level 1 qualifying exam in the MCD subprogram, the material covered in the following courses (or their equivalents) are very strongly recommended:

BIOL 700XX Genetics (lecture)
BIOL 710XX Molecular Biology (lecture)
BIOL 714XX Cell Biology (lecture)
BIOL 750XX Developmental Biology (lecture)

All first-year students also take ​Biol 79302 MCD Seminar centering on MCD research at CUNY, preparation for the First Exam, and professional development.

To ensure that all students have an adequate breadth of exposure to the wide variety of MCD research at CUNY, first year MCD students will complete three 10-week research rotations in participating laboratories on at least two CUNY campuses.

In the second year, students are advised to take several 3-credit seminar courses on special topics given by MCD faculty experts. Among many others, some examples of these topics include:

  • Gene Regulation In Development And Disease
  • Genome Integrity
  • Cell Biology Of The Nervous System
  • Cancer Genomics
  • Frontiers Of Live Cell Imaging
  • Bioinformatics
  • Organization Of Nuclear Transport
  • The Ubiquitin/Proteasome Pathway
  • Biology And Immunology Of Aids
  • Hot Topics In Developmental Neurobiology

The remainder of the 45 credits needed to reach level II, and the total of 60 credits needed to reach level III are made up from research lab credits under the following course numbers:
BIOL 89800 Advanced Study 1 to 10 CR (per semester)
BIOL 89900 Independent Doctoral Research 1 to 10 CR (in total)

The Neuroscience subprogram is administered by the CUNY Neuroscience Collaborative (CNC). Detailed program requirements are available on the CNC website.

All Plant Sciences students can expect to take courses during the first two years in the Program that provide formal training in Plant Systematics and Taxonomy; Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology; Plant Morphology and Development; Phytochemistry; and Biostatistics.