Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Biology


The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Molecular Biology is offered through a cooperative program of the Federation of North Texas Area Universities that includes Texas Woman’s University and the University of North Texas. Within this degree option, courses are available on a variety of topics in molecular biology and neurobiology.

The Federation doctoral program provides opportunities for formal course work, seminars, independent study, participation in regional and national conferences, and dissertation research. The program also includes Federation-sponsored seminars featuring outstanding nationally and internationally recognized educators.  

Graduate students enrolled at either UNT or TWU may take courses at both universities, thus benefiting from the combined faculties of each school. Students graduating from a Federation program will be granted a Ph.D. from the university through which they entered the program.

Students in the Ph.D. program at TWU complete the required coursework, a written proposal (the prospectus) outlining their research plans, and then conduct original research under the guidance of a faculty mentor and an advisory committee.  The results of the research are prepared as a written dissertation and presented in a public seminar.  The student must pass an oral examination (dissertation defense) administered by the advisory committee following the public seminar in order to earn the doctoral degree.  Students who complete this program are well-prepared for careers in academia, industry, or the government sector. 

Marketable Skills

Defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's 60x30 Strategic Plan as, "Those skills valued by employers that can be applied in a variety of work settings, including interpersonal, cognitive, and applied skills areas. These skills can be either primary or complementary to a major and are acquired by students through education, including curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities."

  1. Demonstrate critical thinking by using logic and reasoning to interpret scientific results, evaluate primary literature, and identify alternative explanations for given results.
  2. Conceive, design, and perform properly controlled experiments for testing a hypothesis using modern scientific instruments and methods.
  3. ​Work collaboratively as part of a team to perform, analyze, and present scientific results and research outcomes.
  4. ​Demonstrate leadership on scientific projects and the ability to supervise others in coordinated group efforts.  
  5. Understand research regulations and comply with all laboratory safety guidelines.


All students must meet the University requirements as outlined in the Admission to the TWU Graduate School section of the catalog.

This academic program may have additional admission criteria that must also be completed as outlined on the program's website.

Degree Requirements

Total Semester Credit Hours Required

A minimum of 90 semester credit hours including those at the master’s level and 6 semester credit hours for dissertation.

To be fulfilled by every Ph.D. student as early as possible in the program
BIOL 6513Molecular Biology3
BIOL 6334Advanced Cell Biology4
BIOL 6734Advanced Genetics4
CHEM 5613Advanced Biochemistry I3
BIOL 5611Readings in Biology (taken 3 times)3
BIOL 5681Seminar (taken 3 times)3
Research Tools 16-8
Research Tools 26
To complete the program6-18
Dissertation (may take twice)
Dissertation (may take 4 times)

Research Tools

Students much show proficiency in two Research Tools and may select from categories such as Research Methods, Scientific Communication, or Statistics.  Other options, such as Bioinformatics, Business, or Grant writing, may be available with approval from the Graduate Advisor and advisory committee. 

Research Methods
Plasmids as Vectors for Recombinant DNA
Viruses as Vectors for Recombinant DNA
Scientific Communication
Advanced Scientific Communication
Seminar (Oral Communication)
Readings in Biology (Primary Literature, Written and Oral Communication)
Independent Study (Written Communication)
Biological Research
Statistical Methods I
Statistical Methods II


In addition to the required courses, students may choose elective courses which may include, but are not limited to:

BIOL 5033Advanced Science in the Secondary Classroom3
BIOL 5293Advanced Scientific Communication3
BIOL 5333Advanced Pathophysiology3
BIOL 5503Research Methods3
BIOL 5611Readings in Biology1
BIOL 5613Readings in Biology3
BIOL 5801Biological Research1
BIOL 5803Biological Research3
BIOL 5881Biological Research1
BIOL 5883Biological Research3
BIOL 5901Special Topics (*)1
BIOL 5903Special Topics (*)3
BIOL 5911Independent Study1
BIOL 5913Independent Study3
BIOL 5973Professional Paper3
BIOL 6843Health Care Genetics3
BIOL 6821Research in Molecular Biology1
BIOL 6823Research in Molecular Biology3
BIOL 6831Research in Molecular Biology1
BIOL 6833Research in Molecular Biology3
BIOL 6911Independent Study1
BIOL 6913Independent Study3
CHEM 5623Advanced Biochemistry II3

*Special Topics courses cover emerging issues or specialized content not represented in the main curriculum.  Past special topics have included:  Bioinformatics, Cancer Biology, Electron Microscopy, Genetics, Genome Editing, Immunology, Neuroscience, and Signal Transduction.


6 to 18 dissertation hours

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination consists of two parts: a written research proposal (the Prospectus); and an oral examination covering the contents of the proposal as well as general knowledge in the fields of molecular biology.  The student must complete all required coursework and research tools prior to the Qualifying examination.  The student’s advisory committee administers the examination.

Final Examination

A public seminar in which the student shares the research results followed by an oral examination by the advisory committee are required.