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The Ph.D. in Biology Program has as its intellectual focus an interdisciplinary synthesis of the biological sciences and related biotechnology. The program draws upon the strengths of faculty in multiple departments and is intended to serve students with interests in conducting research in academia, industry and clinical settings. Graduates of the program at UNC Charlotte should be well versed in quantitative approaches to biology. The interdisciplinary makeup of the program is designed to produce graduates who will be able to integrate the strengths of more than one discipline in solving biological problems.

All students are required to complete a series of core courses related to the interdisciplinary nature of the program (see curriculum). These courses will expose students to current issues in the biological, chemical, physical, and engineering sciences and to the ethical implications of biological and biotechnological research.  Students choose either the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCD) concentration or the Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology (E3B) concentration. The full interdisciplinary curricullum is tailored to each student  with advanced courses in Biological Sciences as well as Bioinformatics and Genomics, Nanoscale Science, Chemistry, Biophysics, Engineering, Geography and Earth Sciences, and Kinesiology.

The cornerstone of the doctoral program is the dissertation research. Each dissertation is expected to be a significant scientific contribution based on independent and original research, resulting in publications in national/international peer-reviewed journals by the time of the dissertation defense.

Ph.D. students may choose to receive the non-thesis M.S. degree while continuing to work toward the doctoral degree provided they have successfully completed the Candidacy Exam and completed at least 30 hours of coursework, including two hours of Tutorial BIOL 6800 culminating in a written assignment developed in consultation with the student’s major advisor.  Obtaining the non-thesis M.S. requires dual enrollment in the Ph.D. and M.S. programs.  Doctoral students can apply for enrollment in the M.S. program after entering the Ph.D. program.

It is expected that the program will provide a teaching assistantship (TA) to students in their first two years and that a student's advisor will obtain research funds for a research assistantship (RA) for subsequent years. Regardless, TA support ($18,000/yr) for eligible Ph.D. student (Teaching and Research Assistantships) will be guaranteed for four years. Awards for additional years will be based upon individual student situations and available funds. Every eligible student also receives a tuition waiver and health insurance.