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Graduate Studies Calendar 2014-2015 Program Descriptions Biological Sciences BISI
Biological Sciences - BISI
Contact Information

Location: Biological Sciences Building, Room 186
Program number: 403.220.6623
Fax: 403.289.9311
Email address: 
Web page URL:

1. Degrees and Specializations Offered

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Master of Science (MSc), thesis-based


  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysical Chemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Molecular Microbiology
  • Physiology
  • Structural Biology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions 
  • Energy and Environmental Systems (Interdisciplinary Specialization)*

*See the Calendar section on Interdisciplinary Specializations for further information.

2. Admission Requirements

In addition to Faculties of Graduate Studies and Science requirements, the Department requires:

a) A minimum grade point average of 3.20 on a four-point scale during the last two full years or equivalent.

b) For students required to provide proof of proficiency in English; a TOEFL score of 580 (written test), or 92 (Internet-based test), or an IELTS score of 7.5, or a MELAB score of 82, or a PTE score of 64.

c) A concise statement outlining the applicant’s research interests and reasons for wishing to attend the University of Calgary.

d) Three academic reference letters and the required reference form.

Exceptional students may apply to a PhD program without an MSc recognized by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. In such cases, requirements in addition to those outlined above include: a four-year BSc or equivalent degree from a recognized institution with a minimum GPA of 3.60 (four-point scale) during the last two full years; and a full-year research project with a minimum grade of 3.70.

Transfer from a MSc to a PhD program is allowed for students who have successfully completed all courses required for the MSc degree, and who have demonstrated outstanding research ability and potential to their Supervisory Committee. Normally, evidence of this ability will include, but not be limited to, a grade point average of 3.60 for the courses completed during the MSc program.

3. Application Deadline

Deadlines for submission of complete applications for students with international transcripts:

May 1 for September admission
September 1 for January admission
January 1 for May admission

Deadlines for submission of complete applications for students with Canadian or U.S. transcripts:

June 1 for September admission
October 1 for January admission
March 1 for May admission

4. Advanced Credit

Not applicable.

5. Program/Course Requirements

In addition to Faculties of Graduate Studies and Science requirements, the Department requires:

a) Completion of a minimum of one full-course equivalent for both the Master of Science and doctoral programs. Students transferring from the MSc program to the PhD program will be required to take a minimum of one half course in addition to work already completed. Please note that graduate courses must be chosen in consultation with the supervisor and approved by the Graduate Program Director. Course requirements may include courses offered by other Departments.

b) Completion of the appropriate number of Biology 601 Research Seminar courses in addition to (a) above.

c) Presentation of a Departmental Pre-Defence seminar on the results of the thesis research.

6. Additional Requirements


7. Credit for Undergraduate Courses

At least one-half of a graduate student’s coursework must be at the 600 level or higher.

Only when appropriate to a student’s program may graduate credit be received for courses numbered 500-599, which are considered undergraduate courses. Courses below the 500 level will not be accepted for graduate credit.

8. Time Limit

Expected completion time is two years for the Master of Science degree and four years for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Maximum completion time is four years for the Master of Science degree and six years for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

9. Supervisory Assignments

Applicants normally contact specific faculty members about possible supervision. The Department does not accept students unless at least one faculty member has indicated a willingness to act as supervisor. For both MSc and PhD programs, the supervisor, in consultation with the student, selects a Supervisory Committee consisting of the supervisor and at least two other faculty members whose research experience will be beneficial to the student's graduate program.

10. Required Examinations

Doctoral Candidacy Examinations have a written component followed by an oral component. Doctoral candidates are given three weeks to complete a critical review essay and either a simulated research proposal or a focused essay, as determined by the Examination Committee. All written and oral components of the Candidacy Examination will focus on the student’s field of specialization, as identified previously by the Examination Committee. One week after the submission of the written answers, the oral component will take place.

The oral candidacy exam will be based on the written essays and general research knowledge. Questions on the research proposal will not be included in the oral candidacy examination.

Final Thesis Examinations are required at both the Master of Science and doctoral level. A public “Exit” Seminar preceding the examination is required.

11. Research Proposal Requirements

Both Master of Science and doctoral students must present a written research proposal to their Supervisory Committees no later than twelve months after initial registration in program.

12. Special Registration Information

A request to transfer from the Master of Science program to the doctoral program may be made no later than twenty-four months after initial registration. Students who transfer will be required to take one additional half course, regardless of course work completed before the transfer, and are expected to meet the 36-month deadline for the candidacy examination.

13. Financial Assistance

Financial assistance may be available to qualified students. For information on awards, see the Awards and Financial Assistance section of this Calendar.

Students applying for the Open Scholarship Competition must submit their scholarship applications to the Department of Biological Sciences by the appropriate deadline. Please contact for further information.

14. Other Information


15. Faculty Members/Research Interests

The research interests of current faculty members can be found at