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Welcome to the Graduate Program in Biology

Graduate studies in Biology at York University are firmly based on cutting-edge research. We have over 60 faculty appointed to our graduate program including many award-winning and internationally recognized researchers.

Biology offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science degree (by research thesis) and the Doctor of Philosophy degree (by research dissertation). We do not offer degrees based solely on course work. Prospective students must obtain a commitment from a faculty supervisor prior to being accepted into the program.

Both the M.Sc. and Ph.D. are designed to give students in-depth knowledge of a specific area of current biology.  This is accomplished primarily by hands-on research on an important problem or question that advances the current frontiers of knowledge and most of our students publish their thesis research in scientific journals.

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For entry into Fall 2023, our application is available October 15-January 15.

Three Key Areas of Research

Cell and Molecular Biology

Physiology and Neuroscience

Ecology and Evolution

Within each research area there is a critical mass for interaction among faculty and students and for sharing of resources and expertise among labs.

Biology graduate students are trained in many areas of professional development including experimental design, statistical analyses, scientific writing, lab/field methodology, critical thinking and public speaking. Graduate students write an annual research progress report, present at the Graduate research seminar series and also organize an annual symposium with external and internal speakers.

About Us

Faculty members in the Department of Biology at York U study every aspect of life, from the shape and function of biologically interesting molecules to the effects of climate change on ecosystems. Our professors are dedicated to advancing research in these areas and mentoring students to investigate life’s complexity and develop careers in the biological sciences.

With 39 tenure-stream faculty and an additional 33 research faculty who are adjunct or cross-appointed to our graduate programs, we are one of largest departments of Biology in the country. Nearly 150 graduate students per year receive a top quality education on-campus in laboratories and at field sites around the world.

Our graduate program is research intensive with low course requirements for M.Sc. and few or no course requirements for most Ph.D. students. Students gain valuable teaching and leadership experience though teaching assistant positions in undergraduate labs. We train our students in high calibre and publishable research. Our graduate students work in world-class labs and their research is funded primarily through their supervisor’s grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Research.

Message from the Director

Welcome to York University and one of the largest Biology departments in Canada. Our size means that graduate students have many research labs and potential supervisors to choose among and a large pool of professors available for research collaborations or student supervisory committees.

Although we are large, our departmental culture is one of friendly collaboration and mutual respect. We foster curiosity and passion for science in all our research programs. Faculty supervisors typically have weekly lab meetings to train their graduate students in critical thinking, communication, leadership, and teamwork. Most Biology graduate courses have small enrollment which allows for extensive discussion and debate, student presentations, and close interaction with faculty.

If you choose to come to York University you will be warmly welcomed by faculty and the student-led Association for Graduate Studies in Biological Sciences. Our graduate program assistant will guide you through the formal requirements of the program including course enrollment, teaching assistant contracts, progress reports, and the many internal and external funding opportunities available to students.

Should you have any questions please feel free to contact me at

Bridget Stutchbury

Graduate Program Director
Department of Biology

profile picture of Bridget Stutchbury.