Ph.D. Program

The Department of Biology offers a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Quantitative Biology with research emphasis in a number of areas including: Genome Biology & Genetics, Cell Biology, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, or Microbiology. The doctoral program is designed to train students to apply sophisticated quantitative techniques to solving basic and applied problems in biology. Students in this program will attain substantially greater quantitative skills than in traditional doctoral programs in the biological sciences, providing them with a competitive advantage in business, industry, government, and academia.

The University Catalog contains all UTA admission requirements for the Department of Biology Ph.D. program.

How to Apply

First, read the general instructions for applying to the graduate program and download the checklists available on the Office of Graduate Studies webpage:

International applicants have specific requirements, and a separate admissions checklist, available here: 

Additionally, the Department requests that applicants fill out the following questionnaire as part of the application package: 

Students are accepted into our Ph.D. program as either direct admit or rotation students. 

Direct admit: To qualify as a direct admit, an applicant must secure the backing of a faculty member before applying, mention their faculty support in their letter of intent, and ask that their faculty member reach out to Dr. Mark Pellegrino (

To secure the support of a faculty member before applying, begin by visiting our Biology faculty page: research/faculty, review the research focuses of the labs, and contact individual faculty members to discuss your research interests. Explain how your interests align with their lab and inquire if they would consider having you join their lab as a new Ph.D. candidate.

Rotation program: Applicants would choose this option if they are unsure which area of research interests them. Please indicate your interest in the rotation program in your letter of intent. Applicants admitted into the program will perform three rotations in three separate labs. At the end of the rotation period, applicants are placed in a home lab under the guidance of a Rotation Program Committee. Applicants will select their rotation labs only after being admitted into the Ph.D. program. Please note that applications to the rotation program are only considered for the Fall semester. For more information about the rotation program, please contact the chair of the Rotation Program Committee, Dr. Mark Pellegrino (






Fall (August) admission
(Direct entry and rotation program)

Application deadline (for full consideration; late applicants may be considered). Most students apply and are admitted for this admissions cycle.

December 1

Open house events


Admissions decisions


Spring (January) admission
(Direct entry only)

Application deadline (for full consideration; late applicants may be considered)

September 1

Open house events


Admissions decisions


Questions? Please contact : 


Students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in the Department of Biology must apply to either the “B.S. to Ph.D. track” or the “Ph.D. program”, with the corresponding prerequisites:

B.S. to Ph.D. track: A bachelor's degree in biology, or a bachelor's degree in some other discipline with at least 12 hours of advanced level coursework (junior or senior level courses) in biology. This is the Ph.D. track designed for students with a B.S and without master’s degree, which tends to be the majority of applicants.

Ph.D. program: This track is for students that already have a master's degree in biology, or at least 30 hours of graduate level coursework in biology. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (4.0 scale), as calculated by the Graduate School, is expected. An applicant's GPA in science courses will be taken into consideration. If an applicant has a master's degree, the GPA from their master's degree will also be considered. For applicants with up to 30 hours of graduate coursework but no master's degree, the GPA from those hours will be also be taken into consideration.

GRE: The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is no longer required for admission. 

Application, scores, and transcripts: Your online application will include instructions for uploading transcripts, test scores, and any other required materials. 

International students: Students whose native language is not English must provide a score on the Test of Spoken English (TSE) of at least 45, a minimum score of 23 on the Speaking portion of the TOEFL iBT exam or a minimum score of 7 on the Speaking portion of the IELTS exam. See the following website for complete details:

Letters of recommendation: Three letters of recommendation are required for admission to the program. Ideally one or two letters should come from professors or instructors who can speak to your academic abilities; others may come from employers or other individuals who can comment on your work ethic and potential for graduate study. Letters should be emailed directly from the letter writer to If you have questions regarding letters of recommendation, please email and include your UTA ID #, provided within your online application.

Letter of intent: Please email a Letter of Intent to and include the following information:

  • Your full name and UTA ID #.
  • Indicate that you are seeking the Ph.D. degree in Quantitative Biology
  • Tell us which research track or types of research you are interested in. Examples include: Genome Biology & Genetics, Cell & Developmental Biology, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, or Microbiology
  • Provide names of any specific faculty member(s) that you are interested in working with if you have particular preferences. Note, however, that it is also OK if you are not sure what faculty member you are interested in working with (which is common), in which case, we will use your research interests above to help match you with potential faculty research mentors. We also encourage you to reach out to faculty members directly by email to discuss the potential for research in their lab, and if you have contacted any, please put this information in your letter of intent.
  • How do you decide on which lab to conduct research in for your PhD? - Some students have a clear idea of their research interests, others may not. Both situations are common and our PhD program can account for both types of students, and students can decide on a single lab upfront to conduct research (direct admission) or decide to rotate in multiple labs during their first year, and decide which of these they will do their PhD work in in the second year. Our diverse department enables a broad range of research opportunities.
  • Identify if you wish to be admitted directly to a single faculty member’s laboratory (and identify this faculty member), or indicate that you are interested in potentially rotating in multiple labs (2-3 labs) in the first year to make this decision. If interested in a lab rotation, please also indicate which faculty members’ labs are of interest, and if you have been in contact these faculty. More information about Rotations is provided below.
  • Your Letter of Intent should also include details of your experience, training, any research experience you may have had, and motivations that you believe make you a strong candidate for success in a PhD program. You may also briefly discuss the long-term professional goals that motivate you to work towards a PhD. This is also an appropriate place to clarify details of your academic and work experience to date.

What is the letter of intent used for:

  • The letter of intent is used to help the department link interested candidates with potential research professors/labs, and serves as an opportunity for the applicant to make a personal argument for why they believe they will be successful in conducting a PhD based on their experience and motivations. Your letter will be forwarded to the faculty members you indicate, but you are encouraged to also contact those faculty members directly (e.g., by email) to determine if they are accepting new students. It is therefore useful to also visit the listed faculty pages to find faculty research that you might be interested in and contact those faculty members.

PhD Funding: Ph.D. students are guaranteed 5 years of financial support in the form of Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs), funded by the department, or Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs), funded by grants to individual faculty members. Many students are supported by a mixture of these two assistantships throughout their PhD. All Ph.D. students enrolled full-time and receiving an assistantship also receive reduced-cost in-state tuition regardless of residence, and a major portion of these tuition costs are supported by the assistantships.

Checking the status of your application: You can check your application and admissions status through the MyMav student portal, where you can also review if you have any missing items needed to complete your application.  CHECK YOUR STATUS IN MYMAV. To confirm receipt of letters of recommendation, first check with your recommenders before contacting Please include your UTA ID #, available via MyMav, in any correspondence with the Biology Department.

Lab Rotations

The UTA Biology Department encompasses numerous laboratories that conduct research on a remarkably broad range of topics, and choosing a lab and research topic can be difficult. About half of entering students join a single lab as a direct admission. The other portion of students decide to rotate in multiple labs their first year. If several labs are of interest to you, consider signing up for lab rotations your first semester. Our lab rotation option allows you to experience multiple labs before making a final decision. However, please be sure to reach out to at least two potential rotation faculty to be sure they are able and interested in taking students for rotation. In your letter of intent (see How To Apply above), inform the Biology Department which labs are of interest to you (list up to three labs), and note which faculty have agreed to host you as a lab rotation student if you are accepted.

  • If you decide to enter the PhD program as a rotation student, you can do ½ semester rotations in two host labs to get a sense of the research being conducted prior to making a final decision on which lab you will conduct your PhD research in.  
  • For those students opting for a lab rotation, your letter of intent will be forwarded to the faculty members you indicate, but you should also contact those individuals directly to determine if they are taking new students and have the resources to support your research. During your first semester you will join/rotate through up to three labs in which you are interested and that are currently recruiting students. If no fit is found during your first semester, you have the option of rotating through additional labs in your second semester. Please visit the listed faculty pages to find faculty research that you might be interested in and contact those faculty members to set up a rotation. We feel confident that you will find an exciting and dynamic dissertation lab to join. 


The Biology Graduate Handbook is currently under revision. Up-to-date information regarding the PhD in Biology is available in the UTA Graduate Catalog. Questions regarding the Biology graduate program should be emailed to .