Graduation from the ILS program requires:

  • Completing 64 credits, including core courses, electives and directed research.
  • Maintenance of an overall GPA of 3.0 (“B”) with a grade of “C” in no more than two courses.
  • Successful completion of the comprehensive examination, which consists of a written and an oral component.
  • Completion of a written dissertation and oral defense of the research project.

Transfer and M.S. credits

An unlimited number of completed VCU credits in the Life Sciences can be applied to this degree as long as they have not been previously applied towards another degree. A maximum of six credit hours earned at an institution other than VCU can be transferred into the program if not previously applied toward another degree. A minimum grade of “B” is required for such transfer credits.

Core courses

  • Biological Complexity (LFSC 510, 2 credits)
  • Techniques Course – there are several such courses offered at VCU that can fulfill this requirement (2-3 credits)
  • Integrative Life Sciences Research (LFSC 630, 2 credits)
  • Research Seminar in Integrative Life Sciences (four semesters, 1 credit each)
  • Scientific Integrity (1 credit)
  • Advanced Statistics, mathematics or computational biology – there are multiple options to fulfill this requirement.

Research adviser and committee

Rotations are not required, but are allowed, and the dissertation advisor must be selected prior to the third semester. The Research Advisory Committee is directed by the research adviser and consists of a minimum of five members of the VCU graduate faculty. Individuals who are not graduate faculty members must apply to the dean of the Graduate School for temporary membership. At least two members of the committee should be from departments other than that of the research adviser to foster the interdisciplinary intent of this degree program.

Written and oral examinations

Before admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, a comprehensive written examination and an oral examination must be completed. The Research Advisory Committee will administer both exams. The written exam should be taken upon completion of all didactic course work and will either a) focus on material covered in core and selected elective courses as well as fundamental relevant knowledge and/or b) be comprised of an independently written research proposal. Upon successful completion of the written examination, the oral examination, which includes a defense of the proposed research project and other subject areas deemed appropriate by the committee, will be administered. The written and oral examinations may be repeated only once.

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