Frequently Asked Questions

In addition to reviewing the information below, we also encourage you to contact current graduate students.

Do you have other questions not answered here? Please send your question to and we will respond as quickly as possible.

How much does a Ph.D. cost?

You do not have to pay to do a PhD. On the contrary! It's a job, for which you will receive a stipend. The Biology department, in conjunction with The Graduate School and external funding entities, will support you at or above the standard departmental stipend level and cover your tuition and fees for six years

For more information, see Financial Aid.

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How selective is the process of being admitted?

The admission process is extremely selective. Usually, there are more than 100 applicants, and fewer than 10% matriculate into the program.  Please see the Enrollment Statistics

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What are the teaching assistant and research assistant opportunities with this department?

Once accepted, teaching assistant and research assistant opportunities are available through the student’s 6th year.

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What is a competitive GPA for applicants?

Duke does not have a cut-off point for UGPA when considering applicants. The Biology Graduate Admissions Committee will examine how your academic background, including the courses you have taken previously and your performance in those courses, and not your GPA or the institutions at which you have previously studied, have prepared you for graduate study. To see the average GPA of previous applicants, see the Duke Graduate School GPA statistics.

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Will it hurt my odds if I don't present my GRE scores?

GREs are not required for the Duke Biology Ph.D. program. Not taking the GRE or choosing not to present your scores will neither advance your case nor hurt your application.

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What are the TOEFL scores you are looking for?

Duke Graduate School Standardized Tests requirements apply

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If I have studied in an English-speaking country prior to applying to Duke, can the TOEFL requirement be waived?

No.  Duke Graduate School Standardized Tests requirements apply

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What career development services are available for graduate students?

In addition to the support provided through faculty advising within the department, the Duke Career Development Center offers assistance and extensive resources for graduate students. These services include counseling during graduate studies, and also professional and career counseling and support for exploration of employment opportunities upon completion of graduate study. The Duke Career Center offers confidential advising services, electronic magazine, and scholarly society links, fellowship and grant links, graduate school and thesis/dissertation guides, networking information, research directories, writing and research online resources, and career and employment resources, among others.

To explore the many services offered through the Duke Career Development Center, you may visit their website at

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What is RCR - Responsible Conduct of Research?

RCR stands for "Responsible Conduct of Research." At Duke, RCR training embodies the full range of ethical responsibilities of those engaged in research and teaching. It encompasses not only the obligation to conduct research and teach with integrity, but also to ensure that the rights and interests of original sources, human subjects, and/or animal subjects are protected. All Ph.D. students in biology are required to attend 12 contact hours of RCR training. Learn more about RCR.

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