College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences


The University of Maryland recently reorganized its biology graduate programs. The Biology Graduate Program (BIOL) is no longer accepting applicants as an independent program. Please explore the concentration areas within the new Biological Sciences (BISI) graduate program.

Overview and Philosophy

For students enrolled in Biology Graduate program (before 2010)

The Biology Graduate degree programs, both Master’s and Ph.D., emphasize individualized training of graduate students. The broad research interests of the faculty have resulted in the graduate program’s avoiding the general tendency toward uniformity and specialization in favor of helping the student excel in his/her chosen research direction. Thus, there is no required set of core courses but rather a course plan that is tailor-made for the student. This plan is allowed to evolve as the interests of the student and direction of the research change. The focus of the student’s advisory committee is to help the student establish a research direction and to achieve a level of research productivity that propels the student toward the goal of becoming a leading scientist. By the time the student earns his/her degree, (s)he should have made an impact in the research field.

The Doctoral Program

Most students enroll directly in the Ph.D. program, bypassing the Master’s degree. For those seeking a career as independent investigators, this is the best path. The Doctoral program prepares students to become leading researchers who determine their own research direction. Typically, this program requires a 5- to 6-year commitment, although students have earned the degree in as little as 3.5 years. It all depends on the rate of progress of the research.

The Master’s Program

This program usually serves students who are looking for research experience leading to a variety of careers such as: working in a technical capacity, teaching, government positions, business administration, etc. If a student in this program decides to go into a research career, it is quite easy to switch to a Doctoral program. Likewise, a student in the Doctoral program may switch to a Master’s program. The availability of a Master’s program is another example of the flexibility of the Biology Graduate Program.