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MS and PhD degrees

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Graduate Degrees

The OU Department of Biology offers two graduate degrees:

  • Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Biology (Ph.D.)

Students can also apply to simultaneously enter the Department of Biology and either the Cellular and Behavioral Neurobiology or the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Ph.D. program. These students earn their Ph.D. in one of the latter programs with a specialization in Biology.

The requirements for completion of the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Biology are summarized briefly here. A detailed description of these requirements is provided in the Graduate Student Manual.


To obtain the M.S. degree, a student with Full Graduate Standing must complete at least 30 hours of graduate courses beyond the bachelor's degree, must complete a thesis based on original research, and pass a final oral examination and defense of their thesis.

The student, in consultation with their Major Professor, will determine a research area, termed the Specialty Field, that is of prime interest to the student and in which the student wishes to attain a high degree of expertise. The student and Major Professor will also choose at least one Supporting Field that relates to and supplements the field of specialization, such as biochemistry supporting physiology, or microbiology supporting genetics. The final oral examination covers the area of specialization, supporting fields, and the defense of the thesis.


To obtain the Ph.D. degree, a student with Full Graduate Standing must complete at least 90 hours of graduate courses beyond the bachelor's degree, serve as a teaching assistant for a minimum of two semesters, complete a dissertation based on original research, pass the General Examination (consisting of written and an oral portions), and successfully defend the dissertation in a Final Oral Examination.

Prior to taking the General Examination, the student, in consultation with the Major Professor and Advisory Committee, will designate at least one specialty field and two supporting fields in which the student will be examined during the General Examination.

For additional information, individual documents detailing each graduate program are available from the Graduate College and their website. This information is updated yearly and should be referred to for general graduate program requirements.