Biology - MS, PhD

College of Science

About This Degree

The graduate programs in biology at USU are highly selective, taking a small number of exceptional students each year. Students work with professors on specific research projects where they receive first-hand, active experience doing lab and fieldwork.

Each student’s graduate program is tailored to their individual interests; the student’s graduate committee creates a unique plan of study based on the student’s specific research areas. The faculty in the Department of Biology are experts in a wide variety of topics in biology, such as animal behavior, biogeochemistry, developmental biology, ecology, evolution, insect biology and systematics, neurobiology, microbiology, molecular biology, physiology, plant pathology, plant systematics, signaling, toxicology, vertebrate zoology, virology, and more.


Climate Adaptation Science (Biology MS & PhD):

The Climate Adaptation Science specialization provides students with experiences in actionable science through internship and research experiences. Program includes interdisciplinary research to identify adaptive responses to changing climate extremes and two-part internships with agency, NGO, and industry partners. In a first internship, students contribute to projects and learn the workplace cultures and science needs of the host. The internship experiences inform interdisciplinary climate adaptation research by student teams. In a second internship, students share science results and tools with the host organization and help put that science into action.


At a Glance

College: College of Science

Department: Biology Department

USU Locations:

  • Logan campus

Program Requirements

Career And Outcomes

Career Opportunities

Because biology is such a broad field of research, graduates have diverse career options in all aspects of biology. Some of the options include:

  • Biomedical industry
  • Forestry
  • Researchers for government agencies
  • Research biologists
  • Conservationists
  • Non-government organizations
  • Most PhD graduates pursue positions in academia with universities. Many participate in prestigious post-doctoral programs around the world.

Job Outlook



Anthony Sterenchak

Graduate Programs Coordinator
Office: BNR 117E
Phone: (435) 797-1770

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USU Locations



Admission Requirements

To be accepted to the program, applicants must have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in biology from USU. However, students with degrees in other areas may be accepted, but will have to take prerequisite courses determined by their graduate committee.

To be accepted to the program, it is recommended that applicants first contact a specific faculty member with whom they are interested in working. If the faculty member is accepting graduate students and agrees to work with the student, the student can then apply.

Application Requirements:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee. This fee will be reimbursed to you by the Department of Biology if you are accepted and enroll.
  • Have a 3.0 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
  • Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation

International students have additional admissions requirements.


The Department of Biology considers applications on a year-round basis. Applications received for fall semester by February 15 will be considered for all financial awards available. Applications received after that date will be considered for the limited amount of financial awards available at the time.

Program Requirements

Qualifying Exams:

All PhD students must pass a comprehensive exam, usually taken in their second year. The student’s graduate committee sets the material of the exam, which consists of a written and an oral component.

All master’s students must pass a comprehensive exam with either a written or an oral component, set by their graduate committee. This exam usually takes place when the student has completed a year and a half in the program.

Plan Options

Students can receive the MS by pursuing the following option:

  • In the Plan A option, students complete graduate-level coursework and must write a thesis.

Financial Aid

The College of Science offers the Willard L. Eccles Foundation Science Fellowship. It is an award of $22,000 per year for three years. The graduate programs committee nominates two to three candidates, and one candidate is chosen from the college each year. Selection criteria include: GPA, GRE score, letters of recommendation, and evidence of strong academic and research potential in the discipline.

The USU Diversity Fellowship in Science and Engineering is an award of $22,000 per year for two years plus $500 for travel/equipment. This fellowship is jointly administered by the School of Graduate Studies, the College of Engineering, and the College of Science. Biology candidates are nominated by the graduate programs committee. The award includes an annual stipend, full tuition remission, and a travel/equipment grant. Criteria include: academic research potential, GPA, GRE score, and letters of recommendation.

All PhD students are supported at a minimum with tuition awards, subsidized health insurance, and a monthly stipend for work performed as teaching assistants in instructional activities or research assistants in research groups.

Research Assistantships are available from the grants of major professors. They are awarded by the individual faculty members. Contact faculty members in your area of interest for additional information.

Annual contract teaching assistantships are awarded competitively. All students admitted will be considered for a teaching assistantship. The contracts are for one year and require reapplication each year. Current academic year (nine months) wages are $10,763 for students with a bachelor's degree and $11,275 for students with a master's. In addition to the workshop taught by the School of Graduate Studies, teaching assistants are required to attend the teaching assistant workshop offered by the Biology Department before beginning their initial assignment.

A limited number of summer term teaching assistantships are available. Summer term teaching assistantships are assigned by the coordinator of graduate studies and are approved by the department head. They are awarded based on departmental need, student's preference, and special circumstances. The stipends are $3,588 for students with a bachelor's degree and $3,758 for students with a master's.

A variety of funding opportunities are available on the graduate school website.

Take The Next Step

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