A PhD student in a lab coat in the lab.

Biological Sciences

Gain the knowledge and real-world experiences you need to become an expert in the field of  integrative biology or neuroscience.

A Career in Biology is Immensely Rewarding and Exciting

A Ph.D. in biological sciences is the highest degree in biology and offers a general track as well as specializations in integrative biology and neuroscience. You will spend a large portion of your time doing independent and in-depth collaborative research in areas such as aquatic and terrestrial ecology, sustainability, plant and animal physiology, molecular biology, and more.  The Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences is intended for students that are interested in careers in research and/or academia.

Graduates will be well-trained to pursue research and funding in the area of complex biological systems within academic settings. Graduates will also be able to market themselves accurately to prospective employers who seek microbiologists, environmental scientists, natural sciences managers, medical scientists or postsecondary biological science educators.


Degrees & Offerings

Biological Sciences (Ph.D.)

Doctorate
  Vermillion Main Campus

As the highest degree in biology, earning your doctorate in biological sciences prepare you for a lifetime of research and science-based careers. Working with many of our top-notch professors, you are trained to be expert research scientists in your field of choice and trained to teach at the highest levels in postsecondary institutions.

Biological Sciences: Neuroscience (Ph.D.)

Doctorate with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

If studying the relationship between brain and behavior excites you, the neuroscience specialization gives you opportunities to do interdisciplinary research and gain a strong foundation in the core concepts of neuroscience. This specialization includes 15 credit hours of coursework in neuroanatomy, endocrinology, neurobiology, neuropharmacology and medical neurosciences.

Biological Sciences: Integrative Biology (Ph.D.)

Doctorate with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

If you are interested in ecology and environmental sciences, conservation biology, sustainability, or other medicine or health professions, the integrative biology specialization includes 16 credit hours of unique courses such as biostatistics, neurobiology, organismal biology and foundations of ecology and conservation.

Program Details

Graduate

College

Department

Contact

Graduate Admissions

Start Your Application Today

Each program has unique application requirements and deadlines. Be sure and consult the graduate catalog for detailed program information. It will ensure your application and materials are complete and submitted on time. To learn more about the application process, visit how to apply.

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in biology.
Biology academics standing in water holding a net

Biology

Research, explore and experience the study of life from the molecule to large biomes in the Department of Biology.

Overview of the Missouri River

Missouri River Institute

Located along the free-flowing Missouri National Recreational River, the Missouri River Institute explores the natural and cultural resources of the river through its focus on research, education and outreach.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty and staff in the Department of Biology. Our faculty are experts in their field, contributing research and scholarship in amphibian declines, physiological and biomedical systems,  landscape ecology, riparian ecosystems, geospatial analysis, environmental effects on phenotypes, fish ecology, metabolomics and more.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jacob Kerby

Jacob Kerby

Chair, Biology
Bio Image for Faculty Member Christopher Anderson

Christopher Anderson

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Hugh Britten

Hugh Britten

Associate Chair/Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mark Dixon

Mark Dixon

Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Yohaan Fernandes

Yohaan Fernandes

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Cathy Ganschow

Cathy Ganschow

Senior Secretary
Faculty Default

Robert Garner

Laboratory Storekeeper
Bio Image for Faculty Member Ranjeet John

Ranjeet John

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Karen Koster

Karen Koster

Chair, Anthro & Sociology
Bio Image for Faculty Member Andrea Liebl

Andrea Liebl

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Lynn Riley

Lynn Riley

Lecturer
Bio Image for Faculty Member David Swanson

David Swanson

Dir of Research, MO River Inst
Faculty Default

Tristan Soluk

Research Associate
Bio Image for Faculty Member Beate Wone

Beate Wone

Instructor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Bernie Wone

Bernie Wone

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jeff Wesner

Jeff Wesner

Associate Professor
A turtle in an aquarium.

Explore Nature of the Missouri River

Get involved with hands-on research in your own backyard or across the world. Whether you are interested in the ongoing research in backwater restoration, the impact of invasive tree species on floodplain bird nesting or turtle ecology, the Missouri River Institute and USD's unique location to the Missouri River offers vast opportunities for research.
Two students in a conference.

Get Actively Involved in Meaningful Research

The Center for Brain and Behavior Research provides outstanding training of graduate research students and fellow, feeding the pipeline of creative independent scientists in the fields of neuroscience and behavioral science.

Center for Brain and Behavior Research
A student in a greenhouse.

Library & Research at Your Fingertips

A large collection of biological periodicals, government documents and publications are available in the University Libraries. Online journals, database searches, electronic document delivery, and interlibrary loans are also available. Additional research facilities include laboratories, a greenhouse, growth chambers, the South Dakota Herbarium, controlled environment animal quarters, a histology facility, cold rooms, aquarium rooms, an aquatic mesocosm facility, wet and dry collection rooms, molecular biology core facility and a shop.

University Libraries

Surprisingly Affordable

Whether you’ve recently completed your undergraduate degree, or you want to kick your career up a notch, graduate school is the next logical step. The good news is there is funding for both online and on-campus students to get you through your program. 
Resident & WRGP
MN Residents
Non-Resident
Tuition (9 cr.)
3061.35
4398.75
5886.45
Fees (9 cr.)
497.7
497.7
497.7
Books (estimate)
360
360
360

More About Tuition & Fees

This is an estimate tuition rate* per credit hour and other factors such as special fees associated with your program may change the cost of tuition. Tuition rates are subject to change. 

If you are wondering about how to pay for graduate school, there are additional funding options to consider.

Hear from a usd student

Success story Jazmine Yaeger smiling in a lab.
The Ph.D. program offered me opportunities as a graduate student to both teach and do research. For a career in academia, USD provides a useful combination of one-on-one mentoring and research opportunities that will benefit any student's goals.

Jazmine Yaeger

Ph.D., Biological Sciences, Neurosciences '17
Akron, Iowa

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