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Biological Design, PhD

Biological Design, PhD

Academic Programs / Graduate Degrees / Biological Design, PhD

Biology, Biotechnology, Medicine, Nanotechnology, design, genomics

Program Description
Degree Awarded: PHD  Biological Design

The PhD program in biological design seeks to develop a new type of scientist by training students in core disciplines related to biomedicine and biotechnology while simultaneously preparing them to participate successfully in the interdisciplinary research teams of the future.

The research emphasis is on projects that are use-inspired, contributing directly to solutions for important societal challenges. This is a highly mentored program of personalized study that provides significant interaction with the large and vibrant local research community.

There are four key distinguishing features of the curriculum: a personalized plan of study that allows students to explore the disciplinary and interdisciplinary areas of greatest interest; encouragement to choose dissertation research projects that are use-focused, contribute to solving a large-scale challenge and promise rich transdisciplinary experiences; opportunities to participate in a proseminar format to encourage broad research interactions and discuss problems and challenges in biological design research; and three 10-week laboratory rotations during the first year of study. Rotations can be in any ASU laboratory that is centered largely on biological research.

At a Glance
Degree Requirements

84 credit hours, a written comprehensive exam, an oral comprehensive exam, a prospectus and a dissertation

Required Core (3 credit hours)
BDE 702 Fundamentals of Biological Design II (3)

Other Requirements (2 credit hours)
BDE 598 Special Topics: Biological Design Seminar (1)
BDE 791 Seminar: Biological Design Proseminar (1)

Electives and Research (67 credit hours)

Culminating Experience (12 credit hours)
BDE 799 Dissertation (12)

Additional Curriculum Information
Other requirements courses may be substituted with approval of the academic unit.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. GRE scores
  4. three letters of recommendation
  5. personal statement
  6. resume
  7. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of current residency.

For GRE test scores, the institution code for ASU is 4007 and the departmental code is 0000. Subject test scores are also recommended but not required.

Three letters of recommendation relative to the candidate's academic career are required. The personal statement should reflect the candidate's career and educational goals and should explain why the candidate is interested in pursuing this degree. The resume should include prior research and employment experience, honors, awards, memberships held, publications, etc.

For additional admission requirements, including transcripts, fees and international application requirements, students should see the Graduate Admission Services website.

Application Deadlines
Session A/CIn Person 12/15Priority
Session A/CIn Person 07/15Priority
Career Opportunities

Graduates are trained at the intersection of biological sciences, physical sciences and technology through innovation, design and production. They find career opportunities in health care, biotechnology, pharmaceutical discovery, biomanufacturing, security, environmental and food agribusinesses.

Career examples include:

  • biochemists and biophysicists
  • clinical scientists
  • environmental engineers
  • health and safety engineers
  • medical scientists and engineers
  • microbiologists
Contact Information

What are Accelerated Programs?
Accelerated Programs allow students the opportunity to expedite the completion of their degree.

3 year programs

These programs allow students to fast-track their studies after admission and earn a bachelor’s degree in three years or fewer while participating in the same high-quality educational experience of a 4-year option. Students should talk to their academic advisor to get started.

4+1 year programs

These programs allow students to accelerate their studies by combining undergraduate with graduate coursework, which may allow them to earn a bachelor’s and a master's degree in as few as five years (for some programs).

Each program has requirements students must meet to be eligible for consideration. Acceptance to the graduate program requires a separate application. During their junior year, eligible students are advised by their academic departments to apply.
What are Concurrent Programs?
Students pursuing concurrent degrees earn two distinct degrees and receive two diplomas. ASU offers students two ways to earn concurrent degrees: by choosing a predetermined combination or creating their own combination. Predetermined combinations have a single admissions application and one easy to follow major map. To add a concurrent degree to your existing degree, work with your academic advisor. Either way, concurrent degrees allow students to pursue their own personal or professional interests.
What are Joint Programs?
Joint programs, or jointly conferred degrees, are offered by more than one college and provide opportunities for students to take advantage of the academic strengths of two academic units. Upon graduation, students are awarded one degree and one diploma conferred by two colleges.

What constitutes a New Program?
ASU adds new programs to Degree Search frequently. Come back often and look for the “New Programs” option.
What are Online Programs?
ASU Online offers programs in an entirely online format with multiple enrollment sessions throughout the year. See for more information.
What is WRGP (Western Regional Graduate Program)?
The Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP) provides a reduced tuition rate to non-resident graduate students who qualify. Visit the WRGP/WICHE webpage for more information:

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