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Biology PhD

Admission Requirements

  • MSc degree in life sciences.
  • At least a B average overall during the applicant’s undergraduate and graduate studies.
  • A thesis supervisor chosen by mutual agreement among the student, the Graduate Studies Committee and the potential supervisor.
  • Proficiency in English. Applicants whose primary language is not English must demonstrate that their knowledge of English is sufficient to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field. Please refer to the English language proficiency page for further information on requirements and exemptions.

Additional Admission Requirements

Students will be assessed on the basis of undergraduate and graduate grades, letters of reference and research ability.

Students with a Master's degree from a foreign university will normally not be directly admitted into the PhD program, but will be accepted into the MSc in Biology program. They will, however, on demonstration of the ability to complete a PhD, be eligible to transfer to a PhD as described below.

Students registered in the MSc in Science in Biology who demonstrate exceptional potential for independent research and have attained an A- average in graduate courses in the program may request to transfer to the PhD program during the first six months of the second year of enrolment. The transfer must be approved by the student's supervisory committee and the departmental Graduate Studies Committee.

Degree Requirements

Fully-qualified candidates are required to complete a minimum of 90 credits.

Please see the Biology Courses page for course descriptions.

Biology PhD (90 credits)


credits chosen from the following courses, or from any of the Biology PhD Advanced Topics or Reading Courses. Other courses in the list may be chosen upon recommendation of the supervisory committee and the Graduate Program Director:

BIOL 616 Current Advances in Ecological Research (3.00)
BIOL 670 Scientific Communication (3.00)
BIOL 671 Scanning Electron Microscopy (3.00)



BIOL 801 Pedagogical training (3.00)
BIOL 802 Research seminar (3.00)



BIOL 850 Research proposal and qualifying exam (6.00)
BIOL 890 Research and Thesis (75.00)

Biology PhD Advanced Topics or Reading Courses

BIOL 601 Readings in Ecology and Behaviour I (3.00)
BIOL 602 Readings in Cell and Molecular Biology I (3.00)
BIOL 606 Readings in Organismal Biology I (3.00)
BIOL 607 Readings in Ecology and Behaviour II (3.00)
BIOL 608 Readings in Cell and Molecular Biology II (3.00)
BIOL 609 Readings in Organismal Biology II (3.00)
BIOL 612 Advanced Topics in Evolution (3.00)
BIOL 613 Advanced Topics in Behavioural Ecology (3.00)
BIOL 614 Advanced Topics in Ecology (3.00)
BIOL 615 Advanced Topics in Animal Biology (3.00)
BIOL 630 Advanced Topics in Bioinformatics (3.00)
BIOL 631 Advanced Topics in Biotechnology (3.00)
BIOL 632 Advanced Topics in Cell Biology (3.00)
BIOL 635 Advanced Topics in Molecular Genetics (3.00)
BIOL 640 Advanced Topics in Plant Biology (3.00)
BIOL 680 Advanced Topics in Biology (3.00)
BIOL 685 Advanced Topics in Microbiology (3.00)
CHEM 670 Selected Topics in Biochemistry and Biophysics (3.00)
CHEM 677 Enzyme Kinetics and Mechanism (3.00)
CHEM 678 Protein Engineering and Design (3.00)

Additional Degree Requirements

Students transferring from the MSc program will be required to complete 90 credits in addition to the course requirements for the Master's program (9 credits). Students may be required to take up to 12 credits, at the graduate or advanced undergraduate level, in addition to the above. These courses may be required to strengthen understanding of peripheral areas or of the student's area of specialization. The additional course work may be assigned as an admission requirement or following BIOL 850 - Research proposal and qualifying exam.

Academic Regulations

  1. Academic Standing. Please refer to the Academic Standing section of the Calendar for a detailed review of the Academic Regulations.
  2. Program Specific Requirements. Students must obtain an assessment grade point average (AGPA) of 3.00 based on a minimum of 6 credits.
  3. Residence. The minimum residence requirement is two years (6 terms) of full-time study beyond the master’s degree, or three years (9 terms) of full-time study beyond the bachelor’s degree.
  4. Time Limit. Please refer to the Academic Regulations page for further details regarding Time Limits. All work for the doctoral degree must be completed by the end of the fourth calendar year following the year of admission to candidacy, defined as successful completion of the Research Proposal and Qualifying Exam (BIOL 850).
  5. Graduation Requirement. In order to graduate, students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.00.

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