How do I Earn a Genetics PhD?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2019
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The requirements you have to meet to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in genetics may depend on the school you want to attend. In most cases, however, you'll have to begin working toward this degree by earning a high school diploma. After high school, you may then earn a four-year degree in preparation for entering an advanced-degree program. Depending on the school in question, you may also have to earn a master’s degree in preparation for entry to a genetics PhD program. Once you’ve been accepted to a genetics PhD program, you will usually have to complete the program's required courses, do independent research, take PhD program exams, and prepare a PhD dissertation.

If you want to earn a genetics PhD, you’ll likely start preparing for higher education while you’re in high school. Earning good grades may give you the best chance of securing acceptance to the college of your choice. The classes you choose to take in high school may matter almost as much as the grades you earn, however. You may give yourself a better chance of succeeding in your educational goals by taking advanced classes in science and math. If you choose to leave high school before you graduate, however, you may need to earn a general educational development (GED) diploma to be admitted to college.


After finishing high school or securing a jurisdiction-approved equivalent diploma, you’ll usually need to earn a bachelor’s degree to gain admission to a genetics PhD program. You’ll likely do well to prepare by choosing a science major. For example, you may get good preparation for an advanced science education by earning a bachelor’s degree in biology. You are not limited to this major, however, as other science-related majors may also provide good preparation for this degree. Some schools may consider your PhD program application more favorably if you earn a master’s degree in a related field as well; this is not mandatory, however, and many schools will accept students with bachelor’s degrees instead and build the master's education into the PhD program.

To gain acceptance to a genetics PhD program, you will usually have to complete a PhD program application and submit official copies of your college transcripts to the school of your choice. In most cases, you’ll have to submit a transcript for every higher education institution you’ve attended so far. You may also have to submit the results of standardized scores and recommendation letters. Additionally, you may be required to write a statement of personal goals as part of the PhD program application process.

Each school that offers a genetics PhD program may have a unique set of requirements for earning this degree. Generally, you’ll need to earn a minimum number of credits, as specified by the program, and complete a selection of required courses. You may also have to do research, take comprehensive exams, and complete a PhD dissertation to earn this credential.


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