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Biological Sciences Graduate Program Information

Ph.D Curriculum
Course Descriptions

Students begin their Ph.D. career at Duquesne with coursework and laboratory rotations. At the end of the first year, students choose a Ph.D. mentor.  At the end of the second year, students must pass a comprehensive Qualifying Exam. Successful completion of the Qualifying Exam is required to proceed in the Ph.D. program.

The majority of the coursework is completed before the Qualifying Exam. Students must maintain a 3.0 QPA. Teaching and research assistantships providing tuition and a support stipend are available for qualified Ph.D. candidates.

Research is the Focus of the Ph.D. Program

The main requirement for the Ph.D. degree, beyond the coursework and Qualifying Exam, is for the student to carry out a research project that significantly enhances the understanding of their field.  The best evidence for this is publication of the research in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at national or international meetings.  The student finishes their degree by writing a Ph.D. dissertation, presenting a seminar to the Department on their work, and successfully defending the dissertation to their Faculty Committee.

Individualized Curriculum

Because the amount of time needed to complete the research varies, there is no exact timeline for completion of the Ph.D. degree. Finishing the Ph.D. research usually takes three years after the successful completion of the Qualifying Exam and it must be completed by 7 years after the successful completion of the Qualifying Exam.

The Duquesne Difference

At Duquesne University you can conduct cutting-edge research in small collegial labs...

...with state-of-the-art equipment and personal attention from faculty who embrace their roles as researchers and mentors.

3 students in a labYou will become an integral member of one of our research teams...

...with the expectation of authoring research papers published in top-ranked peer-reviewed journals as well as presenting your research findings at national and international meetings.

All students in our Ph.D. program are supported by either teaching or research assistantships.

In addition to receiving a competitive stipend, tuition and most university fees are waived.

Most Ph.D. students spend at least one year as a teaching assistant.

During this time, they will be responsible for undergraduate laboratory sections, including presenting oral instructions, supervising laboratory activities, construction of test materials, and presenting and grading examinations.

Collaborative interdepartmental research is possible with individuals in the Departments of Chemistry, Physics, and Allied Health Sciences, as well as the School of Pharmacy.

While the majority of the thesis research must be completed in the Biology Department, graduate students in our program are often involved in training opportunities in laboratories outside of our department.

The Department of Biological Sciences is a close-knit and friendly environment.Graduate Student in Lab

With approximately 35 graduate students in the department, there is ample opportunity to get to know your classmates. GsOBs (Gees 'o Bees) is the Graduate Student Organization of Biological Sciences, which is organized and run by and for biology graduate students. WiP (work in progress) is a graduate student operated monthly brown bag seminar in which current student research is presented and discussed.

The Duquesne University Student Chapter of the American Society for Microbiology, as well as the Allegheny Branch of the American Society for Microbiology, are options for grad student participation. The Department of Biological Sciences hosts the Pittsburgh Bacteriology Meeting in March where graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from universities in the Western Pennsylvania region present their research results.

Student working in the lab Student working in the lab Student working in the lab