Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences

John-Mary Vianney, Ph.D.

The Doctor of Philosophy in biological sciences at Western Michigan University offers a unique combination of traditional rigorous research experience, breadth of coursework and training in effective communication of scientific concepts. This program is specifically designed for students who wish to pursue careers in the biological sciences that require excellence in both teaching and research. The communication requirement also provides excellent training for careers in government and industry.


Application instructions

All application materials must be received no later than Feb. 1 for consideration for admission in the following fall semester. The department does not consider applications for admission in the spring semester.

WMU has a new online graduate application system that allows all students (domestic and international) to submit required information into one system. General application information for the University, as well as specific requirements for individual programs, are captured into this system.

Applicants are asked to include some program-specific information. Applicants are encouraged to bookmark this information for quick reference while working through the graduate application process.

Apply now

If you have any questions, contact the department at (269) 387-5624 or email an advisor. Thank you for your interest in applying for this graduate program.

Our program is unique

Our Ph.D. program in biological sciences is unique in that it combines the traditional research experience associated with a degree in biology with the broad span of coursework and the pedagogical experience so vital to careers involving the effective communication of scientific concepts.

This program is specifically designed for those students who wish to pursue teaching or teaching and research careers in the biological sciences in colleges or universities. However, the pedagogy requirements should also provide an excellent background for careers in government and industry, where the role of a Ph.D. is organize and effectively communicated information.

The Ph.D. in biological sciences will be a tripartite program with emphasis on course breadth, formal training in teaching and research experience.

The program consists of:

  • Breadth of knowledge of modern biological sciences—The breadth required to teach college level biology successfully and to perform meaningful research in biological sciences is provided through coursework and laboratory rotations.
  • Teaching—Communication of information has long been a major function of Ph.D. scientists, and organization and dissemination of knowledge are critically important to all scientists. Therefore, an integrated part of the program is an emphasis on the training of doctoral candidates for their central role as communicators and teachers. This is accomplished through coursework focused on teaching and supervised practical experience under the guidance of a teaching advisory committee.
  • Research—Original research under the guidance of a dissertation committee culminating in the doctoral dissertation on a selected aspect of biology completes the triad and gives you a focused view of one aspect of biology to complement the breadth found elsewhere in the program. The program, designed to be completed in four to six years will prepare Ph.D. level biologists with an appreciation of the interdisciplinary and didactic nature of biology and an ability to effectively convey the knowledge. See more on research specializations.

Course requirements

Course requirements


Prospective students who have questions about our programs or the application process should contact our graduate advisor.

Current graduate students at WMU who have questions should contact Dr. Silvia Rossbach, graduate advisor.

Student organizations

You may choose to participate in a student organization to enhance your academic experience and prepare for your professional career.