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Columbia University

Department of Biological Sciences

New York, NY


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Columbia University


Several Fields of Research are Available in the Biological Sciences Doctoral Degree Program from Columbia University

One of the major universities of the world, Columbia was established as King's College in 1754. The Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia offers training leading to Ph.D. degrees in cellular, molecular, developmental, computational, and structural biology as well as genetics, molecular biophysics, and neurobiology. The graduate program provides each student with a solid background in contemporary biology and an in-depth knowledge of one or more of the above areas. The specific nature and scheduling of courses taken during the first two graduate years are determined by the student's consultation with the graduate student adviser, taking into account the student's background and specific research interests. During the first year, all students take an intensive core course that provides a solid background in structural biology, cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, and bioinformatics.

New Biology Graduate Students Gain Important Presentation Skills in Seminar Courses

Beginning in the first year, biology graduate students at Columbia University attend advanced seminar courses, including the preresearch seminar, which is a forum for faculty-student research discussion. Important components of graduate education include the ability to critically analyze the contemporary research literature and to present such analyses effectively through oral and written presentations. Columbia is committed to training students in these areas, and a number of opportunities in the Department of Biological Sciences help students to achieve these goals. Students acquire training in critical and presentation skills through participation in advanced-level seminars and journal clubs, as well as through presentation and defense of original research proposals during the second year of graduate study.

Research Training Begins During the First Year of Biology Graduate Work

Students engage in research training beginning in the first year of their graduate work. They may choose laboratories in the Department of Biological Sciences on Columbia's main Morningside Heights campus or in about twenty-five other laboratories, including many at Columbia's Health Sciences Campus. To inform incoming students of research opportunities, faculty members discuss ongoing research projects with them in the preresearch seminar held in the autumn term of the first year. All students are required to participate in ongoing research in up to three different laboratories during the first year. The choice of a dissertation sponsor is made after consultation between the student and potential faculty advisers, and intensive research begins following the spring term of the student's first year. Each student is assigned a Ph.D. Advisory Committee made up of the student's sponsor and two other faculty members.

A Full Compliment of Laboratory and Research Facilities Is Available to Biology Graduate Students

The Department of Biological Sciences, home to about 110 graduate students and 60 postdoctoral fellows, is located in the Sherman Fairchild Center for the Life Sciences. The building provides nearly 60,000 square feet of laboratory space. There are also extensive shared instrument facilities, including extensive sophisticated microscopy, X-ray diffraction, fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), real-time PCR analysis, mass spectrometry, infrared scanning, phosphorimaging, and microinjection. The department also provides for the housing and care of research animals, including transgenic mice.

Full Tuition Exemption and Generous Stipends Are Offered to All Admitted Students

Columbia's Department of Biological Sciences primarily accepts graduate students with experience in biology, but students with educational backgrounds in other science fields have also been successful. All accepted students receive generous stipends, complete tuition exemption, and medical insurance. Special fellowships with larger stipends are also available to some students. These benefits ensure that students have the time and resources necessary to focus on study and research. Most students live in University-owned, subsidized apartments or dormitories within easy walking distance of the laboratories. In addition, both the Morningside and Health Sciences campuses are easily reached by public transportation from all areas of the city.

A Wealth of Cultural and Recreational Opportunities Are Available in and Around New York City

Columbia University's New York City location provides students with academic and recreational opportunities that are often unavailable elsewhere. The Department of Biological Sciences is located on the beautiful main campus in Morningside Heights, which combines the advantages of an urban setting and a peaceful college-town atmosphere. New York is commonly regarded as the cultural center of the country and offers unrivaled opportunities for attending concerts, operas, plays, and sporting events; for visiting outstanding museums; and for varied, affordable dining. Many excellent beaches, ski slopes, and state and national parks are within reasonable driving distance.

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Degrees & Awards

Degrees Offered

Degree Concentration Sub-concentration
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Earning Your Degree

Evening/weekend programs available? No
Terminal master's degree available? No

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirement
Doctoral Degrees Entrance Exam GRE General Test, GRE Subject Test (recommended)
Comp Exam Required
Thesis Required
Teaching experience



Application Fee - Domestic

Application Deadlines

Type Domestic International Priority date
Fall deadline January 4th Not reported No

Entrance Requirements

Exam Details
Doctoral Degree Exam GRE General Test, GRE Subject Test (recommended)
Doctoral Degree Requirements Letters of recommendation

International Students

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

Tuition & Fees

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Financial Support

Financial award applicants must submit: FAFSA
Application deadlines for financial awards December 1
Types of financial support available Health Care Benefits
Institutionally-sponsored Loans

Location & Contact

Address 1212 Amsterdam Avenue, MC 2402
New York, NY  10027
United States
Contact Sarah Kim Fein
Program Coordinator
Phone: 212-854-2313
Fax: 212-865-8246