The Department of Biological Sciences offers programs leading to the degrees of Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy. It strives to develop scholars familiar with literature in their field, capable of identifying new problems and new directions of endeavour in their field, and competent with the methods of data collection and analysis essential to do research. Students will fulfil these objectives through several forums: a supervised research program, coursework, participation in seminar programs, and defending their dissertation.
The Department has research laboratories and instructional facilities for 250–300 graduate students. There are facilities for digital image processing, electron and confocal microscopy, analytical chemistry, molecular biology, fermentation, biotechnology, DNA synthesis and sequencing, cultivation of microbial cells and cells of yeasts, plants, insects and mammals. Facilities include large holding tanks for aquatic animals, and controlled environment rooms including an extensive greenhouse complex. Off-campus facilities include the Devonian Botanic Garden and mycology herbarium, several field stations including the Meanook Biological Research Station and Ellerslie Plant Genetics Station, all near Edmonton, and the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on Vancouver Island. Extensive reference collections are available for research with microfungi, vascular and cryptogamic plants as well as vertebrates and invertebrates, including major collections of fishes, fossil plants and vertebrates, insects and parasites.
There are six research interest groups (RIG) within the Department: Ecology; Microbiology and Biotechnology; Molecular Biology and Genetics; Physiology, Cell and Developmental Biology; Plant Biology; and Systematics and Evolution. Students either register in one of these areas of specialization for their program or, with permission of the supervisor and approval of the Associate Chair (Graduate Studies), register toward a degree of MSc or PhD with specialization in Biological Sciences. Declared specialization in one of the six research interest areas can be indicated on a student's thesis title page, degree diploma, and transcript.
Potential applicants, especially PhD students, are encouraged to first correspond with academic staff in whose research laboratories they might want to study. Additional information is found at www.biology.ualberta.ca (see links to – Graduate Program – Prospective Students).
The Department's minimum admission requirements are a four-year undergraduate degree, or its academic equivalent, from a recognized university, and a grade point average of at least 3.3 in the last two years of undergraduate study. A minimum Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of 100 (internet-based) or equivalent is required, where applicable (see English Language Requirement ).
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general and subject tests are preferred, but are not required.
All students entering the graduate program receive financial support for at least the first two years and four months of a full-time MSc program, and the first five years of a full-time PhD program, at the minimum rate of $22,790 per year.
The sources of financial support for graduate students include: 1) Scholarships from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, Province of Alberta, University of Alberta; 2) Graduate Teaching and Research Assistantships; 3) University of Alberta General Awards; 4) other external agencies; 5) supervisor's research funds.
International students whose first language is not English and who wish to receive a Graduate Teaching Assistantship normally require a minimum TOEFL score of 630 (paper-based) or 109 (internet-based) with a minimum score of 26 on the speaking component.