Doctoral Programs

Basic biological research has evolved into a broad, fast-paced and dynamic profession that drives newly emerging industries and actively shapes many human endeavors. Both globally and locally, cutting-edge research at Texas A&M University strives to improve the ways people everywhere manage their health and the health of their planet. You can participate in the biological revolution by joining our graduate program at Texas A&M University. We invite you to learn about us and consider graduate study in the Department of Biology at Texas A&M University as your gateway to the future


Research and training at the forefront of biology

Our Graduate Program in Biology offers a diverse range of integrative training opportunities for students seeking a Ph.D. degree in cutting-edge biological research. Basic biological research continues to lead the way for the other life sciences, and advances in medicine and agriculture are based on key discoveries generated by basic research. The Biology Department offers Ph.D. degrees in both Biology and Microbiology.

The Biology department offers Ph.D. training with faculty who explore a diverse suite of disciplines in the biological sciences, including cell, molecular, and developmental biology, ecology and evolutionary biology, microbiology, biological clocks, genetics and genomics, neuroscience and behavior, plant biology, and physiology and systems biology. Many faculty research programs span multiple research areas and levels of biological organization, creating a dynamic training environment for graduate students. Evolutionary theory sets the stage for many cross-disciplinary programs and research collaborations among our diverse faculty. All students entering the program receive rigorous academic training and carry out their research in competitive, state-of-the-art research labs.

Dr. Heath Blackmon, Graduate Advisor

Profile Photo of Heath Blackmon
Biological Sciences Bldg West (BSBW), Room 119C

Jennifer Bradford, Assistant Program Director

Profile Photo of jennifer bradford
Butler Hall, Room 102
Phone: 979-845-7755
Fax: 979-845-2891


Applications are due by December 1 for Fall admittance

Applicants should visit the Faculty Research Interests page to identify the most suitable labs. Applicants are encouraged to contact faculty directly to discuss prospects for rotations and should include this information in the Statement of Purpose.

Submit the on-line application through the Texas A&M Graduate CAS application portal.

In addition to the online application, you will need to submit the following:

  1. A Statement of Purpose can be submitted through CAS: The statement of purpose should then explain why you want to pursue graduate studies, why you are applying to our department, your research interests, and a description of your previous research experience. In addition, applicants should visit Faculty Research Interests to identify labs of interest for rotations, and include this information in the Statement of Purpose.
  2. Transcripts can be sent directly to the Texas A&M Office of Admissions (address below). While official transcripts are being sent to the university, you can upload unofficial transcripts in CAS.
  3. Three letters of recommendation can be submitted through CAS.
  4. TOEFL/IELTS scores: For International applicants, they should have TOEFL or IELTS scores sent to the Texas A&M Office of Admissions. The Institute Code for Texas A&M University is 6003 (there is no department code needed).
    • In order for your application to be considered, you should have a TOEFL score of above 100 total, with a speaking score of 23 or higher.
    • IELTS scores should be above 7 total, with a speaking score of 7 or higher.
    • For more information on what countries are exempt from TOEFL or IELTS, please see under the “Proof of English Proficiency” section.
  5. CV: Upload your resume or CV to CAS.

***We no longer take the GRE for graduate applicants.

Please do not send any materials directly to the Department of Biology. Everything should go to the Office of Admissions or uploaded through AIS.


The decision to enter graduate school is a decision to commit to a rigorous advanced scientific training program. Requirements for the Ph.D. include course work, participation in seminars relevant to the field of research, successful completion of an oral qualifying examination, one year of teaching experience, and completion of a research dissertation under faculty guidance.

The First Year
Upon arriving at Texas A&M, we help you get acclimated to life in College Station and in the Department of Biology. You will meet your fellow entering students, who will undoubtedly be a source of friendship and moral support during graduate school and beyond. You also are introduced to our faculty and staff, who will help you become an integral part of our Department.

First year studies primarily involve coursework related to your chosen field. By the end of the first year, our students draw up a personalized degree plan with the help of an initial guidance committee. Laboratory rotations are completed by end of the first year, and students identify the lab in which they will carry out their dissertation research.

The Second Year
During the second year, students complete required coursework and focus on learning the techniques they will be using to carry out their research. By the end of their second year, students are expected to have formally defined their research plan. Comprehensive written and oral qualifying exams are administered by the student’s dissertation committee members, and must be completed before the beginning of the third year. Passing the qualifying exam marks the student’s advancement to candidacy, and the remainder of graduate studies consists of dissertation research.

Third Year and Beyond
During their third and fourth years, students carry out the research that will form the body of their dissertation. Coursework is limited to seminars and special topics courses related to their research. As a part of their training, students will make presentations of their research project to their peers, attend seminars and participate in journal clubs. To complete the requirements for a Ph.D., students prepare and defend their dissertation in a public presentation. This is typically completed at the end of the fifth year, although some students complete sooner and some later than this.


Laboratory rotations are a central component of our students’ first year. Our entering students work in three different laboratories during the first semester (5 weeks in each laboratory). Some students enter our program to work with a specific faculty sponsor, and take advantage of the rotation requirement to broaden their expertise in a complementary area. Most students, however, enter our program unattached to any specific lab. Rotations give our new students an opportunity after arriving at Texas A&M to identify the laboratory that is most suited to their research and academic interests. While most entering students decide on a permanent laboratory home after their second rotation, many choose to do one or two additional laboratory rotations.

The time spent in these rotations will help ensure that you make the right choice in advisors and are comfortable and excited about the lab you are entering and the people you will be working with.


All of our students are support through Graduate Assistantships, which are given in the form of Teaching Assistantships or Research Assistantships. As long as the student remains in good standing with the department and the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, they will be fully supported until the degree is completed.

The Graduate Assistantships cover tuition and a living stipend of $2,400 per month. Students do not have to apply for the assistantships; we provide support to all admitted Ph.D. students.


Office of Graduate Studies Forms

  • All OGAPS forms must be filled out using the OGAPS Forms Website
  • These forms include:
      • Research Proposal Approval Form
      • Preliminary Examination Checklist and Report
      • Request and Announcement of the Final Examination
      • Request for Exemption from the Final Examination
      • Written Dissertation Approval Form
      • Written Thesis Approval Form
      • Thesis, Dissertation, and Record of Study – Copyright Availability
      • Final Exam Results forms

Degree Plans and Petitions (Course Change, Committee Change, MDD, etc.)


601. Biological Clocks. (3-0). Credit 3.
Introduction to the formal properties of biological rhythms; cellular and molecular bases for rhythmicity; temporal adaptations of organisms using clocks. Prerequisite: Graduate classification or approval of instructor. Cross-listed with NRSC 635.
606. Microbial Genetics.
608. Light Microscopy.
609. Molecular Tools in Biology. (3-0). Credit 3.
Interactive lecture course in molecular biology for beginning graduate students; introduction to tools and methodologies used in prokaryotic and eukaryotic molecular labs; choosing the appropriate experimental technique for a given scientific question; virtual experiments will reinforce the applications and introduce useful bioinformatics tools. Prerequisite: Graduate classification.
610. Evolution. (3-0). Credit 3.
Fundamentals of evolutionary biology with an emphasis on evolutionary theory.
Prerequisite: Graduate classification or approval of instructor
611. Developmental Genetics.
612. Fundamental Molecular Cell Biology. (3-0). Credit 3.
Foundation in current molecular and cellular biology and genetics; basis for many interdisciplinary studies including biostatistics, cancer biology, and biomedical materials and devices. Prerequisites: Graduate classification; non-biology majors.
613. Cell Biology.
615. Signaling Behavior & Development
622. Microbial Physiology.
625. Structure & Molecular Biology.
627. Principles of Neuroscience I. (3-0) Credit 3.
Detailed introduction to the basic fundamentals of cellular and molecular neuroscience; topics include membrane potentials, action potential generation, and the mechanisms underlying synaptic transmission, as well as their molecular basis. Prerequisites: Graduate classification or approval of instructor. Cross-listed with NRSC 601.
628. Principles of Neuroscience II. (3-0). Credit 3.
Fully integrated overview of nervous system organization and systems-level neurobiology; broad topics include sensory systems and sensory systems function, motor systems and neuromuscular function, central pattern generation and locomotion, homeostatic regulation, motivation, emotions, learning and memory, and circadian rhythms. Prerequisites: Graduate classification or permission of instructor. Cross-listed with NRSC 602.
634. Comparative Neurobiology. (3-0). Credit 3.
Cellular, molecular and systems neurobiology, together with neuroethology. A comparative approach to subject matter is stressed. Topics such as evolution of nervous systems and their diverse structure and complex functions are dealt with. Cross-listed with NRSC 634.
635. Plant Molecular Biology.
644. Neural Development.
647. Digital Biology. (4-0). Credit 4.
Obtain, organize, process, and analyze genome and genome-related data; learning to ask and answer biologically relevant questions by designing and performing experiments using computers. Prerequisite: Graduate classification or approval form instructor.
650. Genomics.
651. Bioinformatics.
661. Antimicrobial Agents. (1-0). Credit 1.
Understanding of microbial agents, limitations of use, biosynthesis and regulation, and challenges in development as new therapeutics. Prerequisite: Approval of instructor.
665. Biology of Invertebrates. (3-3). Credit 4.
Morphology, biology and phylogeny of invertebrates. Topics may be either detailed discussions of specific organisms or comparative information on a process. Prerequisite: BIOL 335 or equivalent.
680. Departmental Colloquium. (1-0). Credit 1.
Attend presentations given by renowned scientists from various fields of biology; learn about new developments in science; stay abreast of current and trending research topics. Prerequisite: Graduate classification in biology or microbiology.
681. Seminar.
682. Research Seminar. (1-0). Credit 1.
Seminars presented by students based upon their research projects. Prerequisite: Graduate classification.
683. Experimental Design in Biology. (3-0). Credit 3.
Design of scientific research projects in the field of biology; a wide range of biological experiments designed with the appropriate statistical technique for analysis; design biological studies that are statistically tractable and perform basic statistical analyses using the statistical programming language R. Prerequisites: Graduate classification and STAT651 or approval of instructor.
685. Directed Studies. Credit 1 to 6 each semester.
Limited investigations in fields other than those chosen for thesis or dissertation.
689. Special Topics In… Credit 1 to 4.
Selected topics in an identified area of biology.
691. Research
Credit 1 or more each semester. Research for thesis or dissertation.
694. Graduate Orientation. (1-0). Credit 1.
Instruction on what constitutes fraud in science, how to recognize it and avoid committing fraud; includes basis of ethics and plagiarism; negotiation techniques and conflict management; regulations and ethics covering animal and human experiments; record-keeping; data management; peer review. May be taken on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Prerequisite: Graduate classification.
696. Ethics and Responsible Conduct of Research. (1-0). Credit 1.
Instruction on what constitutes fraud in science, how to recognize it and avoid committing fraud; includes basis of ethics and plagiarism; negotiation techniques and conflict management; regulations and ethics covering animal and human experiments; record-keeping; data management; peer review. Prerequisite: Graduate classification or approval of instructor.
697. Methods in Teaching Biology Laboratory. (1-0). Credit 1.
Introduction to teaching methods associated with the teaching of undergraduate biology laboratories; emphasis on effective preparation and delivery of laboratory course content, clear instructions for procedures and laboratory safety. Prerequisite: Graduate classification in a biological science.
698. Behavior, Genes, and Evolution. (3-0). Credit 3.
This literature and lecture-based course will introduce an integrative approach to the study of animal behavior, complementing evolutionary and ecological perspectives with molecular and genetic approaches and methodologies. Prerequisite: Graduate classification. Cross-listed with NRSC 698.
Journal Clubs
The Department of Biology offers a collection of journal/science discussion clubs (typically under course BIOL 681). All students, post-docs and faculty are encouraged to participate. Each organizer sets the format and curriculum of their club, so please contact them directly for more information.


Student Post-Doc Research Conference
The Student Post-Doc Research Conference (SPRC) is an event that allows graduate students and post-docs to share their research with each other. Participants in the SPRC are required to create a poster of their work and then have the option to give a talk or participate in the Data Blitz.

The goal of the Data Blitz is to articulate a topic in a quick, insightful, and clear manner. These short talks (limited to 2 minutes) are intended to grab the attention of the audience and will allow for several presenters to share their ideas in a brief period of time.

Biology Graduate Student Association
The Biology Graduate Student Association (BioGSA) is a student-led organization that helps to create events for the graduate program. They have organized monthly Shop Talks, where students gather together to discuss their research in a relaxed environment; the annual kickball game that takes place before the start of the fall semester; and the International Festival that celebrates the many cultures and diversity in the department.

The BioGSA also holds yearly t-shirt sales to help raise funds for the organization.

Outreach Activities
The Department of Biology’s outreach committee is responsible for developing and maintaining outreach projects, such as STEM events at local schools, in the Bryan-College Station area. Over the last year, the outreach committee has created a sustainable program by meeting with schools in the area to assess need, obtaining resources for experiments, and collaborating with other departments. We have participated in STEM nights at schools in College Station, Navasota, and Bryan. We have also had volunteers participate at several outreach events for organizations such as, Women in Science and Engineering with the Expanding Your Horizons events as well as the Texas Junior Academy of Science, The Big Event, Chemistry Open House, The TAMU Ecological Integration Symposium, Physicsfest, BioBlitz and judge at local science fairs.

If you would like to join out listserv and get involve with future events, please email Jennifer Bradford at  or

The Eagle news story on Greens Prairie Outreach

Student Research Week
Student Research Week is a three day competition that highlights research occurring on the Texas A&M campus with an emphasis on research in which students participate. SRW provides a venue for students to present their work, both through oral presentations and posters. This event allows students, faculty, and the community to see the depth and breadth of research conducted at Texas A&M.

Graduate Resources and Development for Aggies
Several Texas A&M offices providing support to graduate students have joined efforts to deliver a coordinated professional development program called G.R.A.D. Aggies, organized into four areas: Academic Development, Leadership and Communication Development, Instruction and Assessment and Career Development. The G.R.A.D. Aggies program supports the Texas A&M institutional Quality Enhancement Plan and provides high-impact learning experiences while promoting a commitment to learning for a lifetime in graduate and professional students.