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Ph.D. in Applied Biology

Full time Duration: 5 years

The Ph.D. Program in Applied Biology at UMass Lowell trains outstanding students to contribute to the wide array of life science research needs.

The program integrates foundational areas of biology (e.g., Biochemistry, Cell & Molecular Biology, Genetics, Developmental Biology, Evolutionary Biology) with focused interdisciplinary biological research and preparation for career advancement.

The program combines fundamental and rigorous training in the pursuit of new knowledge regarding the mechanisms of biological processes coupled with the skills needed to apply this knowledge in the workforce. In addition to traditional academic careers in research and education at colleges and universities and academic research hospitals and institutes, our graduates are also prepared for non-academic careers.

To provide students an area of focus within the broad field of biology, the Applied Biology program includes four options. 

  • Biomedical Science 
  • Developmental & Evolutionary Biology 
  • Quantitative Biology & Biophysics 
  • Cellular & Molecular Biology 

Students select their option anytime during their first two years in the program. Each option contains a list of approved advanced option graduate courses. Students are required to complete at least four advanced courses in their option and two courses outside of their option.

For more information on the curriculum including course listings and degree pathways, visit the Graduate Catalog.

Specific aspects of admission to the Applied Biology Program are described below. These policies are in addition to all the standard requirements for graduate admission described by UMass Lowell Graduate Admissions office.

Faculty Sponsorship - All applicants must identify and communicate with at least one potential faculty advisor prior to submitting an application to the Applied Biology PhD program. Acceptance to the program relies on advisor sponsorship. Therefore communication with potential faculty sponsors is expected. Students will have the opportunity to select a different permanent advisor during year 1, but it is anticipated that one of the predetermined potential advisors will serve as the permanent dissertation advisor. 

Exams - All applicants must take the general Graduate Record Exam and earn a minimum score of 300, achieving at least 150 on both quantitative and verbal portions. Foreign applicants from countries where English is not an official language must also take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam and earn a minimum score of 90. 

Personal Statement - A personal statement must be submitted that describes the student’s educational background, research experience, and career goals. The student must identify at least one potential faculty advisor in the statement. Particular attention will be given to students who have research experience and display a commitment to pursuing excellence in science. Letters of Recommendation - Three letters of recommendation from professional sources must be submitted at the time of application. Sources may include academic professionals or supervisors/colleagues from a current or previous employer. 

Application Deadline - February 15, applications received after 2/15 will be considered depending on RA/TA availability.

See the UMass Lowell online Graduate Catalog for additional requirements of the program.

Visit the Graduate Admissions website for more information about the application process.

To facilitate research and academic achievement, the Department of Biological Sciences offers at least two years of teaching assistant support for Applied Biology students. Support includes tuition, fees, and a stipend for living expenses. 

In subsequent years support funding can be supplied by the department, training programs and faculty research grants. Applied Biology is a multi-department program. Additional grants, scholarships, or research support opportunities may be available through individual departments/programs. Applicants are strongly encouraged to have established contact with potential research mentors before applying.


Cost Per Credit: $842.21*


Cost Per Credit: $1,496.66*

*These estimated graduate charges are for the 2019-2020 academic year. These prices are subject to change by vote of the UMass Board of Trustees.


For more information on tuition and financing, visit Costs & Aid for Graduate Programs.

Why Study Applied Biology at UMass Lowell?

Visiting grad student researcher from Spain working with molecular biologist Jack Lepine

Experiential Learning

Students have the opportunity to experience laboratory rotations and engage in journal clubs and research seminars. Students also work closely with a faculty advisor in the development of an individual research development plan that will be tailored to serve specific research and professional goals. Learn more about research topics

Darwin's bark spider web

Cutting-edge Research

Assoc. Prof. Jessica Garb and a team of researchers including UMass Lowell students are examining the molecular composition, biomechanical properties and evolution of an exceptional type of silk produced by an arachnid species known as Darwin’s bark spider. Read more

Prof. Jessica Fish and student in the lab

Outstanding Faculty

Asst. Prof. Jennifer L. Fish is spearheading a project to understand the molecular mechanisms responsible in patients who have mutations in the gene called SATB2and how these mutations in SATB2 cause defects, specifically in the growth of the lower jaw. Read more