Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences

Why study this program?

The Department of Biological Sciences offers programs leading to the degrees of Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy. It strives to develop scholars familiar with literature in their field, capable of identifying new problems and new directions of endeavour in their field, and competent with the methods of data collection and analysis essential to do research. Students will fulfil these objectives through several forums: a supervised research program, coursework, participation in seminar programs, and defending their dissertation.

The Department has research laboratories and instructional facilities for 250–300 graduate students. There are facilities for digital image processing, electron and confocal microscopy, analytical chemistry, molecular biology, fermentation, biotechnology, DNA synthesis and sequencing, cultivation of microbial cells and cells of yeasts, plants, insects and mammals. Facilities include large holding tanks for aquatic animals, and controlled environment rooms including an extensive greenhouse complex. Off-campus facilities include the Devonian Botanic Garden and mycology herbarium, several field stations including the Meanook Biological Research Station and Ellerslie Plant Genetics Station, all near Edmonton, and the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on Vancouver Island. Extensive reference collections are available for research with microfungi, vascular and cryptogamic plants as well as vertebrates and invertebrates, including major collections of fishes, fossil plants and vertebrates, insects and parasites.

There are six areas of specialization within the Department: Ecology; Microbiology and Biotechnology; Molecular Biology and Genetics; Plant Biology; Physiology, Development and Cell Biology; and Systematics and  Evolution. Students either register in one of these areas of specialization for their program or, with permission of the supervisor and approval of the Associate Chair (Graduate Studies), register toward a degree of MSc or PhD  with specialization in Biological Sciences. Declared specialization in one of the six research interest areas can be indicated on a student’s thesis title page, degree diploma, and transcript.

All potential applicants are encouraged to first correspond with academic staff in whose research laboratories they might want to study. Additional information is found at Biological Sciences (see Graduate Studies – For Applicants).

Entrance Requirements

The Department’s minimum admission requirements are a 4-year undergraduate degree with an admission GPA of at least 3.3 on the 4-point scale from the University of Alberta, or an equivalent qualification and standing from a recognized institution. The admission GPA will be calculated on the last 60 units of graded coursework completed, or on the equivalent of the last two years of full-time graded coursework.

Where applicable, applicants must provide proof of English Language Proficiency (see English Language Requirement ). Any one of the following is acceptable:

  • A minimum Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of 100 overall with a score of at least 22 on each of the individual skill areas (internet-based)
  • an equivalent score on an English Language Proficiency test approved by the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies

Applicants must identify a potential supervisor willing to provide supervision.

Applicants must have the minimum guaranteed funding, attained through one or a combination of:

  • Scholarships
  • Teaching assistantships
  • External funding

Applicants are also required to submit the following:

  • A complete Departmental Package (Curriculum Vitae, Financial Support Information, and Research Interest Form). See the Department website for form and format details.
  • Three letters of reference. Academic letters of reference are preferred.


Delivery Mode:
On Campus

Program Type:
Thesis Based

Degree Level:
Master's, Doctoral

Program Requirements

Master’s Programs

Doctoral Programs


Graduate courses can be found in Course Listings under the subject heading Bioinformatics (BIOIN), Biology (BIOL), Botany (BOT), Entomology (ENT), Genetics (GENET), Immunology and Infection (IMIN), Marine Science (MA  SC), Microbiology (MICRB), Paleontology (PALEO), and Zoology (ZOOL).

Tuition and Fees

All students entering the graduate program receive financial support for at least the first two years and four months of a full-time MSc program, and the first five years of a full-time PhD program, at a minimum guaranteed rate. Contact the Department for the current minimum.

For general information, please visit the Tuition and Fees page on the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research site.
Scholarships and Financial Support

The Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research administers over $29 million each year in scholarships, awards, and financial support for graduate students, as well as financial and loan advising. Additional scholarships are also available for specific faculties and programs.

Program-specific inquiries

Please refer to the detailed program information or email

General inquiries

Please check out some of our most frequently asked questions (FAQS) to see if your question has been answered, or contact the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) during our office hours.

Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR)
Killam Centre for Advanced Studies
2-29 Triffo Hall
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E1