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Graduate Studies with CBio Faculty

Graduate students in the Department of Biological Sciences whose research is relevant to biodiversity science and/or education and whose major advisor is a CBio-Associate qualify as CBio graduate students.


Information about admission to the graduate program in the Department of Biological Sciences, and degree requirements, can be found here.

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Biodiversity Scholars Award: Highly-qualified PhD applicants are eligible for these competitive awards which consist of (1) the title of “Biodiversity Scholar”, (2) a one-time award of $3,000 for the first summer of enrollment, and (3) a $3000 research allowance for use over the first 5 years of PhD studies. 


  • Responsibilities: Biodiversity Scholars are expected to present at the CBio Annual Research Symposium beginning in their 2nd academic year and are expected to be an active part of the CBio community. Continued access to Biodiversity Scholars research funds will require continuous enrollment, good academic standing, and approval of the CBio Director.


  • Eligibility: Applicants to the Department of Biological Sciences PhD program whose research is directly relevant to biodiversity science and/or education are eligible to apply. A CBio faculty member must serve as the major advisor (primary mentor). Biodiversity Scholars remain eligible for the Van Vleet Fellowship and the First Generation PhD Fellowship.


  • How to Apply: Applicants must send a CV (no length restriction), and a cover letter (up to 3 pages single spaced) to These two items are unique to the Biodiversity Scholars Program, and, along with an application to the Department of Biological Sciences PhD program (this should be submitted to the department and not to CBio), constitute the application. The cover letter sent to CBio must explicitly address the following question/prompt: What roles do you see for research and education in addressing the biodiversity crisis? Applicants must identify in their cover letter a CBio faculty member who has agreed to serve as their prospective major advisor. Fall 2022 award applications are due by 5pm on January 28, 2022. Applicants admitted for the Spring semester of 2022 may also apply to be a Biodiversity Scholar, with the same deadline.

  • Criteria for Selection: Applicants will be evaluated based on three criteria: previous research experience and/or educational preparation, cover letter (including response to the above question/prompt), and future potential to contribute to biodiversity research and education. Awards will only be made to exceptionally qualified applicants whose research interest are directly relevant to biodiversity research and education. Notification will be made by email within 4 weeks of the application deadline.


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(PhD) Most CBio graduate students gain valuable teaching experience through their roles as graduate teaching assistants. These positions provide stipend support for most CBio graduate students and allow ample time for research. Most graduate students serve as graduate teaching assistants for the duration of their tenure as students.

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Coursework, Mentorship, & Professional Development

A minimum of 72 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree is required. Students entering the program with a MS degree may be awarded up to 30 hours toward this requirement. Attendance at departmental seminars is mandatory. Becoming a Ph.D. Candidate is a two-step process that is usually completed by the end of the third year. (1) A written and oral presentation of your Research Prospectus, and (2) a written and oral Comprehensive Examination. The student’s Advisory Committee (a minimum of 5 individuals, including the major advisor and 4 others) must approve the topic, prospectus, and the final dissertation. A minimum of one published scientific paper is required, along with a Dissertation Defense and Final Examination. Graduate students are strongly encouraged to attend conferences and meetings relevant to their studies. More information can be found here.


CBio graduate students pursue research on a wide range of topics relevant to biodiversity science and education. These include all 3 subject areas of CBio research:

1. Ecology, Evolution & Organismal Biology

2. Global Change, Education, Agriculture & Urban Environments

3. Genetics, Genomics, & Bioinformatics.

Competitively awarded Research Facilitation Grants, Incentives, and Awards are available to help support/facilitate the research of CBio-Associated graduate students.

(Video) Graduate Studies with The University of Memphis Department of Biological Sciences

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