Doctor of Philosophy
In addition to meeting the general requirements of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, students in biology must give evidence of a satisfactory level of knowledge of related sciences such as chemistry, mathematics and physics, as well as a comprehensive knowledge of the various aspects of biology, as attested by the successful completion of prescribed courses and examinations. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences stipulates that students must present a degree constituting no fewer than 72 hours of graduate credit and including at least 24 credits other than non-topical research. As part of the 72 credit hours, the department requires successful completion of a minimum of five graduate-level lecture or laboratory courses or their equivalent and participation in one colloquium or journal club. First-year students are also required to successfully complete special courses offered by Biology for first-year students and a course in research ethics. These requirements are subject to change from year to year, but a current list may be obtained from the Biology Department. Courses offered by other departments may be used to satisfy the degree requirements with prior approval of the department.
At the end of the first year, each student selects a major professor with whom to pursue individual and specialized research in a selected area of biology. During the second year, students complete their qualifying examinations in which they present and defend their research proposals, thereby being admitted to Ph.D. candidacy. The research proposal will constitute the basis for the Ph.D. dissertation. Students are expected to complete all pre-dissertation requirements, including coursework and general examinations, by the conclusion of their fourth term of study.
The Ph.D. degree is awarded following successful completion of all research work, submission and acceptance of a written Ph.D. dissertation, and oral defense of the Ph.D. dissertation. Students in the Ph.D. program gain instructional experience as graduate teaching assistants (GTAs); a minimum appointment of one semester as a GTA is required. The completion of residency and course requirements does not guarantee a degree; the preeminent qualifications are thoroughness in research, resourcefulness, initiative, creative ability, intellectual drive, and skilled application of the scientific method.
Master of Arts and Master of Science
The minimum residence requirement is one session and one full summer at the University, or three full summers. A Master’s degree candidate must successfully complete 30 credits of course work at the graduate level, including a minimum of 24 credits of courses other than non-topical research. Candidates must complete the equivalent of four graduate level lecture or laboratory courses and participate in one colloquia or journal club; M.S. degree candidates may enroll in up to 6 credits of topical research. First year students are also required to successfully complete special courses offered by Biology for first year students and in a course in research ethics. Successful defense of a written thesis is required, with the M.S. thesis based primarily on independent laboratory research and the M.A. thesis based primarily on independent research.
Master of Arts in Conservation Biology
Students in Environmental and Biological Conservation (EBC) in the Biology Department are expected to have advanced undergraduate or graduate experience in ecology, evolution, and genetics. The core requirements for this degree include one course in Ecology, one course in Evolution, and a 3rd course in either subject. In addition, a course in Conservation Methods and a seminar in Environmental and Conservation Biology are required. Additional conservation-oriented classes may be taken with approval from the EBC Advisory Committee to meet the requirement of 16 total credits of graduate coursework. In addition to the above coursework, 12 credits of independent study, on an approved topic related to Conservation Biology, must be taken for a total of 30 credits. First year students are also required to successfully complete special courses offered by Biology for first year students and in a course in research ethics. Successful defense of a written thesis is required, with the M.A. thesis based primarily on independent research.
Mountain Lake Biological Station
Additional graduate courses are offered during the summer session at the Mountain Lake Biological Station. There is also a Mountain Lake Master’s Degree Program. Further information may be obtained from the Director, Mountain Lake Biological Station, Department of Biology, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400327, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4327, http://www.mlbs.virginia.edu/ or from the Director of the Summer Session, Dell Building 1, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400161, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4161.