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About the University of Calgary
Graduate Studies Calendar 2017-2018 Program Descriptions Biological Sciences BISI
Biological Sciences - BISI
Contact Information

Location: Biological Sciences Building, Room 186
Program numbers: 403.220.6623 and 403.220.7790
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 600 (paper-based), or 105 (Internet-based test), or an IELTS score of 7.5, or a MELAB score of 86, or a PTE score of 75.

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 6 units (1.0 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 3 units (0.5 full-course equivalent) 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 must contact faculty members directly regarding supervision of their graduate program, prior to submitting an application. 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

In addition to the Faculty of Graduate Studies requirements, the Department requires:


Doctoral students must pass oral and written Field of Study examinations. For complete details of the examination format and other candidacy requirements, see

Thesis examination

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

Scheduling of the Examination
All members of the Supervisory Committee must have reviewed the student’s research, including a relevant written sample of the materials related to the thesis, before an examination can be scheduled.

Composition of the Committee
The Internal Examiner must be external to the home program.

11. Research Proposal Requirements

Master of Science students must present a written research proposal to their supervisory committee no later than six months after initial registration in program.

Doctoral students must complete a written thesis proposal no later than twelve months after initial registration in the program. The proposal will be evaluated in a supervisory committee meeting. See for further information about the proposal requirements and evaluation process.

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 3 units (0.5 full-course equivalent), 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