Graduate Studies in Biological Sciences

Degree Programs

The Department of Biological Sciences offers research-oriented M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biochemistry. Qualified students usually enter the Ph.D. program without first earning a M.S. degree. Requirements for the Ph.D. include appropriate coursework designed to provide broad but intensive training in biochemistry, experience in presentation of seminars, and successful completion of qualifying and general examinations. The Ph.D. also requires formulation and execution of original research, as demonstrated by production of research publications and a dissertation. The M.S. requires a thesis and a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate work, 24 hours of which must be in coursework. At least one-half of the minimum required credit in the M.S. program must be in courses at or above the 7000 level.

The Biological Sciences degree programs are designed to be flexible in order to meet the many of needs of students in the sub-disciplines of modern biology. This flexibility allows designing a program of courses that will benefit the student and his or her research needs.

Program Overview

The Biological Sciences degrees may be undertaken in any of the three Divisions within our Department: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (BMB); Cellular, Developmental, & Integrative Biology (CDIB); and Systematics, Ecology, & Evolution (SEE). Over 60 faculty have a wide range of research interests. The 130 graduate students in the department receive funding from a combination of departmental teaching assistantships, fellowships, and external research support.


The Department of Biological Sciences is primarily housed in the Life Sciences Building that recently was expanded by a major addition, and Choppin Hall, which also houses the Department of Chemistry. The laboratories are designed for conducting modern research in diverse fields including biochemistry and molecular biology; cell, organismal and integrative physiology; ecology, systematics, and evolutionary biology; plant biology; microbiology and molecular genetics. Several large facilities with technical help and state-of-art instrumentation facilitate research at LSU and include laboratories for Functional Genomics (DNA sequencers, real time PCR, Scan Array and Microarray equipment), NMR analysis and mass spectrometry (Kratos high-resolution, Finnigen tandem, and Bio-Ion Plasma Desorption time-of-flight mass spectrometers), and confocal, light, and electron microscopy (in the Shared Instrumentation Facility). Common instruments and facilities include tissue culture facilities, media preparation facilities, darkrooms, walk-in cold rooms, plant-growth chambers, animal facilities, and aquatic facilities. Research support comes from the Louisiana State University Gene Probes and Expression Systems Laboratory, the Protein Facility, and the Macromolecular Computing Analysis Facility. The personnel of the Department of Experimental Statistics are available to help design experiments and analyze data, especially in ecological studies.

The recent addition of a Beowulf cluster provides a computer system that will run at 2.1 TeraFlops, or 2.1 trillion floating-point operations per second. This would rank it among the six or seven fastest computers in the world, and second among academic institutions worldwide. An initiative in Biological Computing is a part of this new investment by the State of Louisiana.

Students and faculty also have access to the research collections of the Museum of Natural Science (with more than 350,000 specimens) and the LSU Herbarium (home to many specimens of land plants, lichens, and fungi) as well as many of the research facilities of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station and Louisiana Sea Grant. Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) provides support for marine/estuarine research and maintains two research vessels for offshore research and numerous smaller boats for inshore sampling. Field research by department members is conducted in numerous tropical, subtropical, temperate and high-latitude locations. Biological Sciences faculty collaborate with scientists throughout LSU including the Departments of Animal Science, Chemistry, Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology, Oceanography and Coastal Science, the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, the Audubon Sugar Institute, the Institute for Environmental Studies, Civil and Environmental and Chemical Engineering, and the School of Veterinary Medicine, as well as universities and research centers throughout the nation and world.


For more information, please contact the Office of Graduate Studies, Department of Biological Sciences. We may be reached directly at (225)578-1556 or, or by mail at: Graduate Studies, Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803.


Applications for graduate study are accepted at any time, but they are evaluated only after all supporting documents and credentials have been received. Applications should be initiated at least 7-9 months prior to anticipated entry. For Fall admission, we recommend applications be submitted by the end of the preceding year. By the time of admission, applicants should have earned a minimum of a baccalaureate degree with training in the areas our own undergraduates receive. These include courses in general and advanced biology (including genetics and biochemistry), inorganic and organic chemistry, calculus, introductory physics, and physical chemistry. Qualified students lacking one or two of these areas may remedy the deficiencies after admission. Applicants must score at least 100 (iBT) or equivalent on the TOEFL (for international students who have not received a degree from an English-based institution) to be considered for admission.  We no longer require a GRE score.

An overall GPA of at least 3.00 ("A" = 4.0) is required.

To apply, submit to the Graduate School (114 David Boyd Hall, LSU Baton Rouge, LA 70805): 

  • An application to the Graduate School. Electronic submission has been implemented and is recommended. Details on how to apply also are found at that site. You also may apply by submitting a completed "Application for Admission" form (available from the Department).
  • A non-refundable fee of $50.00 (U.S.) and $70.00 (nonimmigrant) and can be paid in the form of a check, money order or credit card payable to Louisiana State University.
  • If you are a non-exempt foreign applicant and would like more information, please visit the LSU Graduate School's International Admissions page. Your official TOEFL or GRE score will need to be sent to the Graduate School.
  • Official transcripts from the registrar of each college or university you previously or currently attend.

We have two submission deadlines: September 28 (for Spring admission) or January 3rd (for Fall admission).

Financial Assistance

Teaching Assistantships are available from the Department. Research Assistantships are available from grant support to individual faculty members. All awards are competitive. Assistantships provide 9-month stipends of $23,000, which can be covered by departmental funds for up to five years. Professors can sometimes supplement this with research funds.