Interested in American Museum of Natural History-Richard Gilder Graduate School? Admissions officers are waiting to hear from you!

Update my info
Your submission to Program in Comparative Biology has been sent.
Update my info
Your submission to Program in Comparative Biology has been sent.
Update my info
Your submission to Program in Comparative Biology has been sent.


The First Doctoral Program Offered at a Museum in the Western Hemisphere

The PhD Program in Comparative Biology is educating the next generation of biologists through an integrated approach focused on the history, evolutionary relationships, and interactions among organisms. The Richard Gilder Graduate School is housed in a refurbished complex in the American Museum of Natural History. Training and research opportunities exist across a wide array of disciplines in comparative biology, incorporating research in systematic and evolutionary biology, comparative genomics, paleontology, conservation biology, computational biology, Earth history, anthropology, and biological diversity. Global fieldwork with AMNH faculty provides exceptional research opportunities for students.

The normal course of study is four years. Students earn 62 credits through coursework, teaching assistantships, and individual dissertation research. As a distinctive strength of the program, students are matched to faculty members' research and laboratories upon admission, and can begin working on their own research as early as their first semester. The novel, flexible, collections-based and, where appropriate, field-based curriculum provides the environment, tools, and experiences to prepare students for careers in research, teaching, and allied professions. The program provides broad exposure to the conceptual bases, language, tools, and methods for studying life, as well as the ability to undertake and complete intensive individual investigations.

As the first doctoral program offered at a museum in the Western hemisphere, students take advantage of the Museum's internationally recognized collections and scientists and legacy of excellence in field discovery and theoretical advances.

World Class Research Facilities

The American Museum of Natural History provides exceptional research facilities for students, with collections of more than 33 million specimens and artifacts and one of the largest natural history libraries in the world, providing access to over 550,000 printed items (many rare or unique) and over 4,500 serial titles, most available online. AMNH is exceptionally well-equipped for research in comparative biology, with three state-of-the-art molecular laboratories in the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, powerful parallel computing facilities, the Ambrose Monell Frozen Tissue Collection, paleontological labs, an imaging and microscopy laboratory, the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, and the Southwestern Research Station. The Museum is an Associate Member of the New York Genome Center. The Gilder Graduate School is also served by significant instructional spaces and laboratories, a dedicated lounge with individual student work stations, and informal spaces located throughout the institution.

Full Tuition Exemption, Generous Stipends, and More

Thanks to generous philanthropic support and foundation and governmental training grants to the institution or individual students, students are fully funded, with tuition, a competitive 12-month stipend, research support, laptop computers/software, textbooks, and health insurance (all presuming satisfactory progress in the program). Students are expected to be highly competitive and apply for foundation-based fellowships, US federal or New York State grants, or international governmental support. This exceptional level of support allows students to focus on research, while receiving training in teaching in both formal academic and informal settings.

Housing and Living in New York City

The Gilder Graduate School has a partnership with International House which ensures the availability of at least two years of housing for students entering the Museum's PhD Program. There are other housing options available nearby, and the School provides housing referral information.

AMNH is located in Manhattan at 79th Street overlooking beautiful Central Park. One of the world's great cities, with excellent public transportation, New York provides a nearly limitless array of cultural and entertainment activities. An unmatched variety of restaurants, museums, theaters, parks, and galleries provides a rich cultural backdrop for a city of 8 million people representing over 200 different nationalities.

The Academic Community

AMNH is a leading research institution that is home to over 200 scientists. Over 45 renowned curatorial faculty members teach in the program and provide individualized, high quality academic advising and mentoring. The graduate student body is diverse and includes students matriculated in the Comparative Biology PhD Program and doctoral students matriculated at AMNH partner universities - Columbia, CUNY, NYU, Stony Brook, and Cornell. The Comparative Biology PhD Program accepts 4 - 5 new students each year. This accelerated four-year program is designed to attract exceptionally motivated and qualified US and international students who have demonstrated proficiency in academics and original research. The Gilder Graduate School community also includes postdoctoral researchers, students in the Master of Arts degree in Teaching Earth Science, and summer interns in two National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates programs.

Student Outcomes

There are many US and international career opportunities for PhD graduates in Comparative Biology, from conventional academic careers to employment by government agencies and the private sector, including postdoctoral research, high school or college faculty appointments, and museum curation. Examples of recent graduate placements include the Royal Ontario Museum, Harvard, Columbia, Stony Brook, Nagoya University (Japan), University of Edinburgh (Scotland), US Geological Survey, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, California Academy of Sciences, and the National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology (at Rutgers).

The Museum and the Graduate School

Since its founding in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History has been dedicated to a joint mission of science and public education, and it provides a unique platform for communicating the results of current research to the public. AMNH received the National Science Board's 2015 Public Service Award, in recognition of scientific teaching, learning, and communication and for training the next generation of scientists. The Gilder Graduate School and its immersive PhD Program in Comparative Biology offers unique opportunities for students to participate in AMNH's research and educational missions as part of their courses of study; students in turn have made substantive contributions to the field through grantsmanship, publications, teaching, and service in scientific organizations.

To Apply

Applicants are encouraged to contact a member of the faculty to discuss research interests prior to applying. The annual application deadline for the Comparative Biology PhD Program is December 15. Application requires submission of: an online application, application cover page, statement of academic purpose, official transcripts from each undergraduate and graduate institution attended, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, TOEFL or IELTS scores (required of non-native English speakers), and a nonrefundable application fee. Onsite applicant interviews may be scheduled in early to mid-February, with notification of admission typically occurring in late February or early March.

Degrees & Awards

Degrees Offered

Degree Concentration Sub-concentration
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirement
Doctoral Degrees Entrance Exam GRE General Test (taken within the past five years); GRE Subject Test (recommended)
Thesis Required
Qualifying examination



Application Fee - Domestic

Application Deadlines

Type Domestic International Priority date
Fall deadline December 15th Not reported No

Entrance Requirements

Exam Details
Doctoral Degree Exam GRE General Test (taken within the past five years); GRE Subject Test (recommended)
Doctoral Degree Requirements BA, BS, or equivalent degree from accredited institution; official transcripts; essay;

International Students

Exam Details
TOEFL: Required TOEFL Paper score: 600
TOEFL IBT score: 100
IELTS: Required IELTS Paper score: 7

Tuition & Fees

Calculator icon

Financial Support

Types of financial support available Health Care Benefits

Location & Contact

Address Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY  10024
United States
Contact Email:
Phone: 212-769-5055
Fax: 212-769-5257

Update my info
Your submission to Program in Comparative Biology has been sent.
Update my info
Your submission to Program in Comparative Biology has been sent.
American Museum of Natural History-Richard Gilder Graduate School
Update my info
Your submission to Program in Comparative Biology has been sent.