College of Arts & Sciences

Biology - Graduate

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Students in the Biology Graduate Program are trained to become practicing professionals in a wide array of possible career paths, including academic positions, industry, government, or are prepared to take on additional schooling. The program achieves this through a combination of formal course work, research experience, and activities that foster the communication of scientific ideas. The specfic training depends on the degree program and we offer three; the Ph.D., the research or thesis Masters', and the non-thesis or coursework Master's. All students must complete a set of requirements outlined by the Graduate School at the University of Kentucky and the Biology Graduate Program.

Master's Program Description

Biology offers a research-focused Master's degree, which we call the thesis MS or Plan A MS. This program is designed for students who want to gain research experience but are not ready for or are not yet committed to the extended level of research required for a Ph.D. Biology takes relatively few thesis M.S. students into the program, but under special circumstances will do so. A key requirement is that a faculty member is interested and has a project in mind that fits the time scale of a Master's degree. Biology now offers a primarily coursework Master's degree, also called a “Plan B” Master’s, designed for students seeking additional exposure and training in sub-disciplines within Biology without the emphasis placed on original research by the thesis M.S. or Ph.D. degree.

Doctoral Program Description

The Ph.D. is the main graduate degree program in Biology. It provides the training necessary for a student to become an independent professional scholar in the life sciences with the skills to carry out their own original research and to educate others. Student growth is an emphasis of the program. Offers to enter the Ph.D. program are based on the applicant's potential as a scientist and educator. New students arrive and are expected to begin doing research immediately. Coursework blends regular classes, seminars, and research hours and is the focus during the first 4 semesters, with the mix depending on the level of prior coursework a student has had. A written and oral qualifying exam occurs sometime in years 2 or 3 depending on the mentor, the committee, and, if relevant, the Training Group. Following a successful qualifying exam, research becomes the dominant focus of a student's time. Once a significant body of original research has been achieved, a Ph.D. candidate writes a dissertation and defends it before a public audience and a committee of faculty members.

Master's or Doctoral Application Requirements

  • CV
    • Please submit a standard professional CV with contact information and educational and employment histories. In addition, please provide the following information as applicable:
      • a list of coursework or scientific training that does not appear on your transcript; but will be completed before entering the UK graduate program
      • a list of academic honors
      • a description of past research experience
      • a list of scientific publications or presentations
  • Personal Statement
    • Please provide a statement of your current research interests and long-term career goals. Clearly state why the Biology Department at UK is especially well-suited for your scientific advancement as a graduate student. List the names of UK Biology faculty members with research programs of special interest.
  • Prior to submitting this application, please review the Biology Department website for information about the Biology Graduate Program. It is important to review the research programs of our faculty for compatibility with your own interests and to consider the graduate training options offered (see, Doctoral applicants: We recommend that you contact individual faculty members of interest to you before applying.
  • No GRE or GMAT is required for admission to this program.
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Application Deadlines:
    • ​Fall: January 1

Program requirements may change at any time. Contact the DGS of your intended program to confirm requirements.

Admission Officer Contact Information

Maureen Barker

201D Gillis Building