Course Requirements

Minimum Residency Requirements

A Ph.D. student must be enrolled in a graduate program of research, coursework and related academic activities for at least one continuous academic year.

Students holding Graduate Assistantships can meet this requirement by completing at least six (6) credits in each of three (3) consecutive semesters, exclusive of summer sessions. In special cases, a portion of a student’s program may be spent away from the University. A student who wishes to earn off-campus residence credit must obtain written approval from his/her advisor, the Biological Sciences Graduate Program Director and the Graduate School.

Minimum Course Requirements

Beyond the bachelor’s degree, students must earn a minimum of 54 graduate credits. If a student enters the Program with any graduate-level coursework, up to 27 credits can apply toward the 54 credits required (24 if the graduate-level credits are from UW-Milwaukee). The student’s Ph.D. Advisory Committee must approve the transfer credits and a Doctoral Transfer Credit Approval Form must be submitted to the Graduate Program Director by the end of the student’s first year. The form can be obtained from the Graduate Program Assistant.

  • 30 (of 54) credits must be earned in Biological Sciences
  • 27 (of 54) credits must be earned in formal courses and seminars (i.e., not research, colloquium, or independent study)
    • Note: the Bio Sci 934, 935 and 936 “Research Advances” seminars DO NOT count as graduate credit
  • 4 (of 30) credits must be in Colloquium
  • 9 (of 54) credits must fulfill your secondary area of concentration (see below).

Secondary Area of Concentration

By the end of the first year, the student (in consultation with his/her advisor) shall select courses and seminars in a secondary area of concentration consisting of a minimum of 9 credits. This information must be recorded on the Annual Progress Report, signed by the student and the Ph.D. Advisory Committee. The secondary area of concentration is typically an area of biology other than the student’s primary area of interest.


Continuation in the Ph.D. program is at the discretion of the Graduate School, the departmental Graduate Committee and the major professor. A 3.0 (4.0 basis) average or better is required in all work taken as a graduate student. Students receiving a grade of less than a “B” in Biological Sciences coursework or an overall GPA < 3.0 will receive a letter of warning from the Graduate Program Director. Grades of D or F are unsatisfactory and do not count in meeting degree requirements. Poor performance will result in the student’s dismissal from the Biological Sciences Graduate Program