Biological Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Thesis-based program

Program overview

Graduate study in Biological Sciences puts students on the front lines of discovery. Doctoral students design, conduct and analyze original research; they develop rigorous expertise in everything from foundational theory and the study of evolution to cutting-edge research methodologies as they investigate a broad range of biological problems ranging from the molecular level to the biosphere. Degrees are offered in four integrated areas: biochemistry; ecology and evolutionary biology; integrative cell biology; and microbiology. The program takes four to five years, with funding available through sources such as scholarships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and supervisor's research grants.

Completing this program

  • Research Seminar: Related to supervisor interest, and may include biochemistry, cell biology, ecology and evolutionary biology or microbiology.

  • Candidacy: Students will prepare a research proposal or essay, followed by an oral exam in their field of research expertise.

  • Additional Courses: Topics may cover biology of laboratory animals, theory and lab methods, statistical methods, recent advances and Darwin.

  • Thesis: Students will propose, write and successfully defend a research thesis.


  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysical Chemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Biology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Molecular Microbiology
  • Physiology
  • Structural Biology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Energy and Environmental Systems


Professor, biologist, teacher, consultant, scientist (agricultural/forestry breeding, process development, environmental), data analyst, biotechnologist, genetic counsellor, manager (lab, project, clinic, territory, resource), science writer, research technician, bioscience/biotechnology business.

A PhD in biological sciences is usually considered a final degree.

Thesis-based program

Students are required to prepare a thesis and successfully defend in an open oral defense.


Minimum of two courses, with additional seminar courses

Learn more about program requirements in the Academic Calendar

Classroom delivery

Time commitment

Four years full-time; six years maximum


A supervisor is required, and must agree to oversee the student's research before admission will be granted

Fees and funding

See the Graduate Calendar for information on fees and fee regulations, and for information on awards and financial assistance.

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Biological Sciences

  1. Arshad Ayyaz

    Arshad Ayyaz

    Accepting Inquiries
    Single Cell Genomics, Tissue Regeneration, Cancer, Molecular Biology
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    Robert Barclay

    Behavioural and physiological ecology, conservation biology
  3. Placeholder Profile Image

    John EA Bertram

    Accepting Inquiries
    Dynamics of locomotion
  4. Tamara Bodnar

    Tamara Bodnar

    Seeking Students
    Microbiome , Inflammation and neurodegeneration, Prenatal alcohol exposure/Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), Germ-free models, Indigenous community partnerships (health focus)
  5. Gordon Chua

    Gordon Chua

    Accepting Inquiries
    Eukaryotic Gene Expression and Regulation
  6. Antoine Dufour

    Antoine Dufour

    Proteomics, proteases, systems biology, inflammation, immunity
  7. Peter Dunfield

    Peter Dunfield

    Accepting Inquiries
    Microbial Ecology / Environmental Microbiology, Biotechnology
  8. Peter Facchini

    Peter Facchini

    Accepting Inquiries
    Plant Metabolic Biochemistry
  9. Constance Finney

    Constance Finney

    Accepting Inquiries
    Infectious Disease Immunology
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    Jeremy Fox

    Accepting Inquiries

Admission requirements


A minimum of 3.2 GPA on a 4.0 point system, over the past two years of full-time study (a minimum of 10 full-course equivalents or 60 units) of the undergraduate degree.

Minimum education

Completion of a Master of Science program recognized by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Exceptional students may apply to a PhD program without a Master of Science recognized by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Work samples



A concise statement outlining the applicant's research interests and reasons for wishing to attend the University of Calgary

Reference letters

Three academic reference letters along with the required reference form.

Test scores


English language proficiency

An applicant whose primary language is not English may fulfill the English language proficiency requirement in one of the following ways:


For admission on September 1

  • Canadian and permanent resident (students with Canadian or U.S. transcripts)- apply by June 1 
  • International (students with international transcripts)- apply by May 1 

For admission on January 1

  • Canadian and permanent resident (students with Canadian or U.S. transcripts)- apply by Oct. 1 
  • International (students with international transcripts)- apply by Sept. 1

For admission on May 1

  • Canadian and permanent resident (students with Canadian or U.S. transcripts)- apply by March 1 
  • International (students with international transcripts)- apply by Jan. 1

If you're not a Canadian or permanent resident, or if you have international credentials, make sure to learn about international requirements

Learn more about this program

Department of Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences Building 186
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, ABT2N 1N4

Contact the Graduate Program Administrator

Visit the departmental website

Faculty of Science

University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4

Visit the Faculty of Science website