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beatle to neuron transition


The graduate program in the Department of Biology began soon after the University of Oklahoma was founded, and the first Ph.D. degree awarded by OU was in Biology. The graduate program now has internationally-recognized strengths in ecology/systematics, animal behavior, neurosciences, physiology, and genetics/cell biology. The Department maintains an enrollment of about 50 graduate students.

The goal of our PhD program is to prepare students for successful careers in academic, biomedical, environmental, or government institutions. We take special pride in the quality of our graduate teaching and our record of training successful scientists. Our open and collaborative atmosphere encourages creative and interdisciplinary research. Our research and training facilities for field studies, molecular biology, microscopy, bioinformatics, quantitative biology, and physiology are excellent, and they are further enhanced through integration of the department with the OU Biological Station, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, and the Oklahoma Biological Survey.

You can find more information about the OU Biology graduate program on the links listed to the left. Also, be sure to contact individual faculty members and current graduate students in your area of interest. You will be more than welcome! For faculty core areas, specialties and research connections see also here.

Biology Graduate Programs: Key Elements

Director of Graduate Studies/Graduate Liaison:
Ari Berkowitz (
Phone: (405) 325-3492

Pre-first semester:

First year:

  • Hold a committee meeting by May 1 (required for Ph.D., recommended for M.S.)
  • Fill out an Activities Report form (will be emailed in Spring) and email it to Cheri Painter ( in April
  • Enroll in ≥ 5 credit hours each fall and spring semester (if you are a GTA or GRA)
  • Complete a graduate statistics course (BIOL 4913 or 5923 or equivalent)
  • Limit Independent Study (BIOL 5990) to 12 credit hours total during your program
  • Once you begin enrolling in thesis or dissertation research (BIOL 5980 or 6980), you need to continue enrolling in at least 2 credit hours of this course each fall and spring semester; for this reason, you generally should not enroll in 5980 or 6980 during your first year
  • Summer course enrollment is not required unless you are "actively working on" the thesis or dissertation or will graduate in the summer, in which case you need to enroll in at least 2 credit hours of BIOL 5980 or 6980; Adams summer funding does not require you to enroll in summer credit hours
  • Tuition waivers may take until the third week of the semester to be applied; if they have not been by the end of that week, email to check 
  • Each semester, email Cheri Painter ( as needed to request permission to enroll in courses that require this
  • All Ph.D. students: take your General Exam by the end of your 5th fall or spring semester (fall of the 3rd year if you started in fall), which requires obtaining a reading list from committee members, submitting a dissertation research proposal (not part of the written exam), first passing a written exam, and then passing an oral exam.
  • CBN and Biology Ph.D. students: ≥ 30 credit hours of classroom courses not including statistics
  • EEB students: Advanced Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (BIOL 5453) and Seminar in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (BIOL 5471; aka Ecomunch) twice, also delivering a presentation in Ecomunch twice (not necessarily the same semesters as enrolled)
  • CBN students: Neurobiology (BIOL 5833), Current Topics in Neurobiology (BIOL 5871; aka Neuromunch), and 2-3 lab rotations for Independent Study credit (2-3 credit hours each); present twice at Neuromunch