Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science in Biology

Program Overview

The Ph.D. program provides a comprehensive background in biological science with a focus on regulation in biological systems ranging from the molecular to the ecosystem level. The program is offered jointly by CSU and The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Besides course work, a comprehensive exam, and teaching experience, the degree requires a written dissertation based on original scientific research of sufficient quality for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

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Admission Requirements

Prerequisites: Applicants must have completed a minimum of one semester of statistics or calculus, one semester of organic chemistry, one semester of physics, and have a strong background in biology that is essentially equivalent to the Cleveland State undergraduate core curriculum. Applicants must submit transcripts from all undergraduate and any previous graduate study.

Minimum G.P.A: 3.3 in Under Graduation and 3.5 in Graduation.

GRE Requirement: Required

Letters Of Recommendation: Required two letters of recommendation and a statement of personal career goals and research interests must be submitted.

TOEFL Requirement: Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English-language proficiency by submitting official scores for the TOEFL, the Michigan Test, or an equivalent examination, unless they hold a degree from a U.S. institution.

Faculty Research 

Departmental facilities include a large animal-care facility, cold rooms, darkrooms, fluorescent and light microscopes, environmental chambers, a greenhouse, and an assortment of computers with Internet access. The department also utilizes the newly established DNA Sequencing Facility and space in field stations in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and in Belize. Most CCF faculty are located in the new Research and Education Building of The Lerner Research Institute, with its state-of-the art facilities, including a vivarium and core facilities for biotechnology, transgenic mice, flow cytometry, microscopy, protein sequencing, and hybridoma work.

Career Information

The biology graduate faculty includes members of the CSU faculty and staff members of The Lerner Research Institute of the Cleveland Clinic. Because of this cooperation, a wide range of specialization is available. Students completing graduate degrees in biology are employed in research and teaching positions in private industry, hospitals, governmental agencies, environmental action groups, and colleges and universities. Contact the Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences Department at 216-687-2440 or email for specific information.

Graduate Assistantships/Fellowships

Full-time graduate students pursuing thesis or dissertation research may be supported through teaching assistantships or fellowships by the department for a period that, as a rule, should not exceed three years for the M.S. or five years for the Ph.D. Full-time teaching assistants are expected to work 20 hours per week and must enroll as full-time students (currently 9 credit hours, including research credits). Research assistantships may be available from the research grants of individual faculty. A limited number of tuition waivers, which carry a service requirement of 10 hours of work per week, can be awarded to students with superior credentials as funds are available. Requests for Assistantships should be indicated on the CSU application form or by letter to the BGES Graduate Program Director.

Awards are competitive based on all application materials. Initial decisions are usually made based on completed applications on hand in April for Fall Semester and, as available, in November for Spring Semester. Required minimums for GPA, GRE and TOEFL scores are higher than those used for admission to the program. Current annual stipend levels for teaching assistantships are $14,500 for M.S. students and $21,000 for the Ph.D. students; these also are the minimum levels for research assistantships. A special Cellular and Molecular Medicine research assistantship may be available for qualified applicants.

Degree Completion Requirements

All M.S. and Ph.D. students are required to enroll in Graduate Orientation and to attend Departmental Seminars. Before registering for courses, all newly admitted students must meet with the BGES Graduate Program Director. Students must also comply with all Graduate College requirements and procedures.

Minimum GPAs exist for particular degree options as described below. A student receiving one grade of F or two grades of less than B is subject to review by the Graduate Committee; dismissal from the Biology graduate program may be recommended. Complete, current program requirements and any changes are described in the Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

  1. Selection of a Major Advisor and an Advisory Committee. The Major Advisor typically is the primary supervisor and source of support for the student's dissertation research. Together, the Major Advisor and Advisory Committee supervise the student's plan of study and research proposal, monitor the student's progress, certify that requirements have been met in a timely fashion, and process all petitions, progress reports, and other communications with the Graduate Committee.
  2. Completion of a minimum of 90 credit hours--with a minimum grade-point average of 3.0--distributed as follows:
    2.1. Total course work and research
    Courses (minimum) 32
    Research (minimum) 40
    Additional Courses or Research 18
    Total Minimum 90 hours
    2.2. Required Courses: Each Ph.D. student must complete BIO 704 (Biochemistry), BIO 700 and 702 (Orientation), BIO 784 (Writing & Editing Grant Proposals), and BIO 740 (Biostatistics) or an equivalent graduate-level statistics course, for example, PSY511.
    2.3. Seminars: Each Ph.D. student must complete at least four seminar courses (BIO 888).
    2.4. Course Work Summary :
    BIO 700 & 702, Orientation 2
    BIO 704, Biological Chemistry 3
    BIO 740, Biostatistics 3
    BIO 784, Writing & Editing Grant Proposals 1
    BIO 884, Departmental Research Seminar (2 times; no more than 3 times for credit) 2
    BIO 888, Seminar (4 times) 4
    Additional 700-800 level courses 19
    Total Minimum Required 32
    2.6. Remaining Courses: Each Ph.D. student formulates an individual program of study in consultation with the Major Advisor and the Advisory Committee. This includes areas of course work concentration as well as remaining elective courses to fulfill degree requirements described above.
    2.7. Research: The student's individual research project should be of sufficient quality to be published in a refereed scientific journal.
  3. Satisfactory fulfillment of a teaching requirement consisting of two one-hour lectures under the supervision of a professor in (preferably) one introductory and one advanced course.
  4. Satisfactory performance in the Doctoral Candidacy Examination. This oral examination takes as its point of departure an original research grant proposal written by the student in the general area of the student's research. [Models for the grant proposal are the NIH NRSA or NSF or American Heart Association regular postdoctoral proposal. Accordingly, the description of proposed research should be 10-15 pages in length, and the research should be hypothesis-driven.] The intent of the examination is to provide a fair appraisal of the student's knowledge and understanding of the areas relevant to the proposed research and cognate areas indicated by the student's course work and plan of study. Additional study or course work may be required as a result of this examination. Two unsuccessful attempts to pass this examination shall result in a recommendation for dismissal from the program. Satisfactory completion of this examination admits the student to candidacy for the Ph.D.
  5. Completion of at least one year (i.e., three consecutive terms) in residence as a full-time student (as defined by the university) after admission to candidacy. Degree candidates must be continuously enrolled for a minimum of one credit hour of BIO 895 from the time they are accepted as a Ph.D. candidate until graduation.
  6. Presentation of the results of the dissertation at a departmental seminar.
  7. Defense of the dissertation before a faculty committee.
  8. Submission of the approved dissertation together with an article based on the dissertation, in a format suitable for submission to a refereed scientific journal.


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Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences Department
College of Science and Health Professions, Cleveland State University
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Update: 20 May, 2015