Feb 26, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Integrative Biology, Ph.D.

College of Arts and Sciences  
Department: Integrative Biology 


  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Environmental and Ecological Microbiology
  • Physiology and Morphology


The Department of Integrative Biology is committed to train the next generation of graduate students to prepare them for professional success in the biological sciences. Our program of graduate study is designed to foster the development of technical and analytical skills used in existing and emerging fields of discovery. The Department of Integrative Biology emphasizes learning and teaching about the interactions, across all scales, among humans and other diverse organisms in a range of environments. These interactions mediate the resilience of natural biotic systems, and enhance the sustainability of products and processes that are beneficial to ecosystems and consequently to human well-being. Thus, our mission is to create new knowledge and promote learning about ecosystem health and sustainability.

Major Research Areas:  Ecology and Evolution, Environmental and Ecological Microbiology, and Physiology and Morphology.

Admission Information

Must meet University requirements (see Graduate Admissions), as well as requirements for admission to the major, listed below.

  • Bachelor of Science required.
  • It is expected that candidates for the Ph.D. degree will have completed courses equivalent to those required for the B.S. in Biology at U.S.F.
  • GRE is not required.
  • Acceptance by a faculty member in the Department of Integrative Biology is mandatory. Students are expected to contact faculty via email to indicate an interest in the research being conducted in their laboratory. The Department will make every effort to pair potential graduate students with appropriate faculty.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • On Campus or Virtual Interview.
  • Personal Statement

Curriculum Requirements

Total Minimum Hours 90 hours post-bacc

  • Core Courses– 8 Credit Hours
  • Required Courses – 6 Credit Hours
  • Concentrations – 6 Credit Hours Minimum
  • Doctoral Seminar – 1 Credit Hour
  • Dissertation – 24 Credit Hours
  • Remaining hours required – Directed Research/Dissertation – 45 Credit Hours

The graduate student, major professor and Graduate Committee will establish the specific course requirement for each graduate student. Every graduate student must satisfy minimum course requirements. The Graduate Committee consists of four individuals; three must be members of the Integrative Biology Department.

Core Courses (8 Credit Hours)

Required Courses (6 Credit Hours)


An additional six hours of structured coursework is required. The structured courses are listed below for each of the three concentrations. The Major Professor and Graduate Committee may approve courses from outside the Department to satisfy this requirement. Doctoral students typically will take 20-25 semester hours of coursework selected from the lists of courses presented below. The remainder of the required 90 hours is obtained through research credits.

Students select one of the following Concentrations:

Ecology and Evolution (6 Credit Hours Minimum)

A minimum of two courses selected from the list below for a minimum of 6 credit hours. (Other graduate courses may be taken with agreement of graduate committee)

Environmental and Ecological Microbiology (6 Credit Hours Minimum)

A minimum of two courses selected from the list below for a minimum of 6 credit hours. (Other graduate courses may be taken with agreement of graduate committee)

Physiology and Morphology (6 Credit Hours Minimum)

A minimum of two courses selected from the list below for a minimum of 6 credit hours. (Other graduate courses may be taken with agreement of graduate committee)

Qualifying Exam

All students in the Integrative Biology Ph.D. degree must complete a qualifying examination. Successful completion of the preliminary doctoral examination by the end of the 4th semester. The exam consists of two (2) parts:

  1. Dissertation proposal
  2. Qualifying Exam including written and oral components

Admission to Candidacy

The doctoral student is eligible for admission to candidacy after completing structured course requirements, passing the qualifying examination and approval by the supervisory committee. Appropriate forms to document promotion to candidacy must be completed and to the Office of Graduate Studies. Following admission to candidacy, a student must enroll in BSC 7980  when engaged in research, data collection, or writing activities relevant to the doctoral dissertation. Advisors should assign the number of credits in this course in accordance with policy and appropriate to the demands made on faculty, staff, and University facilities, but in no event will the total number of earned dissertation credits be fewer than 24. Students not admitted to candidacy are not eligible to enroll in BSC 7980 .

Doctoral Seminar (1 Credit Hour)

  • Credit Hours: 1
  • All doctoral students must present a public seminar to the IB Department and must be enrolled in BSC 7980 , during the semester in which the seminar is given. The seminar should be a concise summary of the research completed to satisfy the requirements for the Ph.D. The seminar is open to the general public and must be announced two weeks prior to the presentation. Upon completion of the seminar, the general public will be invited to ask questions. At the discretion of the student’s graduate committee, members of the committee may continue to question the graduate student after the general public has departed the seminar room. Each student is expected to defend his/her research to the unanimous satisfaction of the graduate committee. Following the defense, students will make any editorial modifications to the dissertation as recommended by the supervisory committee and submit the dissertation to the Office of Graduate Studies.

Dissertation (24 Credit Hours)

  • Credit Hours: 2-19
  • Submission of a doctoral research proposal must be approved by the Major Professor, Graduate Committee, and Graduate Director. Successful completion of the dissertation proposal, presentation of a dissertation seminar and passing the doctoral examination enables the student to become a doctoral candidate. Submission of an acceptable dissertation, presentation of the doctoral seminar (BSC 7936 ) and successful defense of the dissertation enable the student to obtain the Ph.D. Degree.

Other Requirements

Presentation Requirement:

Two presentations, excluding the doctoral seminar and defense are required. Students are expected to present posters or oral presentations based on their dissertation research at two national/regional professional meetings. The Graduate Committee must approve the presentation.

Publication Requirement:

One research paper must be submitted for publication to a refereed scientific journal by the date of the Doctoral Seminar and Defense. The paper may be sole or coauthored, but it must be based on the dissertation research. The student’s supervisory committee must approve the paper prior to submission. The Graduate Committee must approve the journal to which the paper is submitted.