The Ph.D. degree is a research degree. To qualify for the doctorate, a student must satisfactorily complete graduate studies totaling at least 72 points (at least 36 in residence at New York University), pass a qualifying examination, and present an acceptable dissertation. Each doctoral student is expected to have teaching experience at the college level; students gain this experience through teaching assistantships within the department.
Course of Study: Of the 72 points required, a total of 32 points must be in courses and tutorials at the 1000 and 2000 levels; after review and approval by the director of graduate studies, up to one-half of these 32 points may be transferred from outside the department. The remaining points may be selected from courses generally at the 3000 level. Doctoral students typically complete Bio Core 1-4, BIOL-GA 1001, BIOL-GA 1002, BIOL-GA 2003, and BIOL-GA 2004, Statistics in Biology, BIOL-GA 2030, and The Art of Scientific Investigation, BIOL-GA 3001. Doctoral students must also satisfactorily complete, during the first year of residence, Predoctoral Colloquium: Laboratory Rotation, BIOL-GA 3034, 3035. All Ph.D. students are expected to participate in Predoctoral Colloquium: Graduate Student Seminar, BIOL-GA 3015 every semester. All doctoral students must maintain an average of B or better.
The Department of Biology offers two specialized tracks: Developmental Genetics and BRIDGES. Students who are admitted into the specialized track in Developmental Genetics, which is offered by the Department of Biology with faculty from NYU’s School of Medicine, participate in a DG curriculum that consists of core cores, a special two-semester course in developmental systems, laboratory rotations, seminars, student research symposia, journal clubs, and thesis-related research.
Students who are admitted to Biotic Resources: Integrating Development, Genetics, Evolution and Systematics (BRIDGES), a specialized training track in molecular evolution, are trained to use molecular approaches to understand the evolution and diversity of plants and animal species, and aspects related to the conservation and curation of these biotic resources. The BRIDGES track was developed jointly by faculty at NYU and its affiliated institutions, The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) and The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), which curate and study large collections of plant and animal species.
Qualifying Examination/Admission to Candidacy: The written Ph.D. qualifying examination (preliminary examination) is generally taken at the end of the first year of full-time study, that is, in the spring semester of a student’s first year. The examination consists of two parts: a written research proposal and an oral presentation of the proposal that is defended before a committee of three faculty members. Committee members are assigned to each student by the director of graduate studies, Ph.D. program, in collaboration with the instructors of record from Bio Core 3 and 4. The proposal may not be in the area of the student’s thesis research. This examination tests the student’s skills in scientific writing, reasoning, analysis and interpretation of data in the literature, integration of scientific concepts, and creativity in the design of new experiments.
By the end of the spring semester of their first year, doctoral students must secure a faculty sponsor and a thesis advisory committee of at least three faculty members from within the department who have formally agreed to supervise the dissertation research. A thesis proposal should be presented to the thesis advisory committee and defended orally before June 15 of the second year. When Ph.D. students pass their thesis proposal examination, they become Ph.D. candidates.
Doctoral Dissertation: The plan of study and the dissertation research are formulated in consultation with the faculty sponsor and the research advisory committee. The dissertation must represent original, independent research in a significant area of biology at a level comparable to research published in recognized journals or as professional monographs. When the dissertation is completed and has been approved by the sponsor and by the research advisory committee, the candidate defends the results of the research before a faculty committee and invited outside examiners with expertise in the field of research. No less than six months may lapse between the oral proposal examination and the dissertation defense.