Genetics PhD Degree Program Information

Students interested in studying genetics at the doctoral level can earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Genetics. The Ph.D. program offers students the opportunity to explore advanced and complex theories of genetics and practice laboratory research.

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Essential Information

Most programs require that applicants have a master's degree in genetics or another relevant field, but some programs will accept students with bachelor's degrees. Significant prerequisite courses in math and the sciences may be required before beginning the doctoral program.

Applicants should hold a master's degree in genetics or closely related field, such as microbiology. Colleges and universities also consider other factors when evaluating potential degree candidates, such as previous academic success, letters of recommendation, scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and any applicable professional experience.


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PhD in Genetics

Doctoral candidates devote the entirety of studies to the field of genetics. The first part of the Ph.D. program primarily focuses on coursework and preparation for dissertation research. Many programs have laboratory, comprehensive examination and fellowship components, as well as genetics seminars. Students typically conduct original academic research during their final year of study through technical reports and a dissertation. These programs offer students some flexibility in creating a program of study that will meet their needs and goals. Along with laboratory studies and research on the chosen dissertation topic, students attend lectures in their final years discussing the following topics:

  • Genetics and molecular biology
  • Genetics and illness
  • Gene organization
  • Ethics in genetic research
  • Biochemistry

Employment Prospects and Salary Info

Doctoral degrees in genetics allow for ample career choices in a variety of fields in medicine, education and research. Some possible careers paths are:

  • Professor
  • Bioinformatician
  • Doctor
  • Geneticist
  • Food scientist
  • Genealogist

Earning a Ph.D. in Genetics can also prepare individuals for medical science careers. Employment opportunities for medical scientists are projected to increase 8% between 2014 and 2024, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which is an average rate. The median annual wage in this field was $82,240 as of 2015, reports the BLS.

Continuing Education

A doctoral degree is considered the terminal educational degree in the field of genetics. Some graduates may choose to apply to medical school, which can lead to an increase in possible job opportunities.

A Ph.D. in genetics will prepare students for careers working in medical science and other scientific fields in which genetics are important. Students can also pursue careers as postsecondary genetics professors.

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