American University of Beirut

Department of Biology

Chairperson:Smith, Colin A.
Professors:Bariche, Michel J.; Baydoun, Elias H.;
Gali-Muhtasib, Hala U.; Knio, Khouzama M.; Kreydiyyeh, Sawsan I.; Osta, Mike A.; Saoud, Imad P.; Smith, Colin A.; Talhouk, Rabih S.
Associate Professors:Ghanem, Noel D.; Jaalouk, Diana E.; Kambris, Zakaria S.
Assistant Professors:Sadek, Riyad A.
Lecturers:Rizkallah, Hind D.; Sinno-Saoud, Nada
Instructors:Hajjar, Layane A.M.; Al-Zein, Mohammad S.
Adjunct Faculty:Dohna, Heinrich; Parker, Bruce; Skinner, Margaret

MS in Biology

The Master’s program in Biology aims​ at providing students with a good foundation in biological sciences and training them to conduct scientific investigations. Students are expected to acquire technical skills needed to answer scientific questions through hypothesis-driven research work. This is achieved through engaging them in hands-on activities at the bench and in the field, in addition to analyzing generated and existing biological data. The program also fosters analytical and critical thinking, and trains students on the use of appropriate scientific language and oral and written communication skills necessary for proper dissemination of scientific information.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required of all applicants for graduate work. Requirements for an MS degree in biology consist of a minimum of 21 credit hours in biology courses numbered 300 or above and a 9-credit thesis.

The following courses are core courses and should be taken by all master’s students:

BIOL 310 (3 cr.), BIOL 315 (3 cr.) and BIOL 393 (1 cr.)

Unless otherwise stated, only senior undergraduate biology majors with an average of 3.3 or above can register in biology graduate courses with the consent of the​ instructor.

PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology

Mission Statement

The doctoral program in Cell and Molecular Biology aims to provide the best training to students for their careers as research scientists in Cell and Molecular Biology. It provides students with the opportunity to develop their capacity for scholarly and independent work, critical analytical thinking, and the ability to communicate knowledge and ideas. It is intended to produce scientists who will make significant, original contributions to the biological sciences. The program exposes students to theoretical foundations and practical training in current laboratory techniques. It serves the AUB mission by providing Lebanon and the region with qualified researchers and preparing students for careers in research, teaching, and public service.

Admission Requirements

The PhD program is a five-year program. Admission to the program will be on a competitive basis. To be eligible for admission, applicants should have a good academic record, demonstrate genuine interest in Cell and Molecular Biology research and must:

  • hold a bachelor’s (BS) or master’s (MS) degree in biological sciences or related fields from a recognized institution,
  • present three letters of recommendation from previous tutors or employers,
  • submit scores from the general Graduate Record Examination (GRE). This exam is required of both BS and MS holders,
  • meet Readiness for University Studies in English (RUSE),
  • present a statement of purpose,
  • be interviewed by a select group of department faculty members (who may require the student to give a seminar presentation),
  • and be recommended for admission by the Biology Department.

Program Requirements

The program requirements for BS holders consist of a minimum of 36 credit hours of graduate level coursework and a minimum of 42 credit hours of thesis work. The requirements for MS holders are a minimum of 18 credit hours of graduate level coursework in addition to 30 credit hours of thesis work.

Upon admission into the program, each student will be assisted by the department head who will act as an academic advisor and help the student in the selection of courses. Each student’s course of study is designed individually in light of her/his interests and career goals. All duties of the head are transferred to the thesis advisor once selected.

The program incorporates the existing master’s program and consists of core courses that address basic principles of cell and protein function, gene expression, bioinformatics and biostatistics.

Required Core Courses

All students are required to take the following six core courses and the seminar (plus tutorial if applicable):​

​If these courses have already been taken as part of the master’s program, they may be replaced by others upon departmental approval to complete the 18-credit requirement.

Elective Courses

Elective courses are taken to meet the credit requirements and emphasize the student’s research work and field of specialty. These courses may be chosen from the Biology Department, graduate course offerings or from course offerings of other departments that fall within the student’s field of interest and scope of the program.

Laboratory Rotations

During the first year of study, students may take the laboratory rotation course (BIOL 494), conducting research in two different faculty laboratories within the Biology Department or the university. The department considers exposure to different research environments an essential part of training. Students entering with only a BS must also register for an additional 2- or 3-credit laboratory tutorial in their first year.


Students are required to attend and participate in seminars and journal clubs every term. Academic credit (1 credit) will be received only once during the first year. Subsequent terms will not be credited. Graded: Pass/No Pass (or Fail).

PhD Thesis Committee

Refer to PhD Thesis Committee (page 71).

PhD Qualification Exams Part I and Part II

Refer to PhD Qualification Exam (page 69).

Candidacy and Residency

Refer to General University Academic Information, Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy section that has clearly defined candidacy and residency requirements.

PhD Thesis and Thesis Defense

Refer to PhD Thesis Format and PhD Thesis Defense under General University Academic Information (page 72-73).

Residence Requirements

For Residence Requirements, refer to Residence Requirements (page 61).

Graduation Requirements​

The following is a list of graduation requirements:

  • completion and successful defense of a thesis
  • teaching experience (theory or lab) equivalent to a 3-credit course at minimum
  • yearly presentation, during candidacy, of research progress to the department
  • acceptance or publication of at least two internationally refereed papers or one internationally refereed paper and one internationally refereed abstract or proceeding

In all other respects, the graduation requirements set forth in the catalogue for the PhD program will apply.

Financial Support

The department offers, on a selective basis, substantial support which fully covers tuition and includes a monthly stipend. There are also some funds available to support participation in international conferences; these funds are awarded on a competitive basis. In return, students are expected to help in teaching undergraduate labs, with presentations of introductory courses, and in proctoring and correcting exams.

Course Descriptions

Sample Student Programs of Study​

BS holder working for MS (21 cr.)BS holder working for PhD (36 cr.)
​First termFirst term
​BIOL 315
​3 cr.
​BIOL 315
​3 cr.
BIOL elective3 cr.BIOL 3303 cr.
BIOL 3931 cr.BIOL 4943 cr.
BIOL 391A2 cr.BIOL 4930 cr.
9 cr.9 cr.
​ ​ ​ ​
​Second term
​Second term
BIOL 310​3 cr.
BIOL 310​3 cr.
BIOL elective3 cr.BIOL 3323 cr.
BIOL elective3 cr.BIOL 4912 cr.
BIOL 4931 cr.
9 cr.9 cr.
​ ​ ​ ​
​Third term
​Third term
BIOL elective​3 cr.BIOL 370​3 cr.
BIOL 3223 cr.
BIOL elective3 cr.
BIOL 493A0 cr.
3 cr. 9 cr.
​ ​ ​ ​
​Fourth term ​Fourth term
​BIOL elective
​3 cr.
BIOL elective​3 cr.
BIOL elective​3 cr.
​BIOL 493A​0 cr.
9 cr.

​AUB MS holder working for PhD (18 cr.) ​ ​Non-AUB MS holder working for PhD (22 cr.) ​
​First term
​First term
BIOL 330​3 cr.
BIOL 310​3 cr.
BIOL 3323 cr.BIOL 4931 cr.
BIOL 4943 cr.BIOL 4943 cr.
BIOL 493​0 cr.
9 cr.7 cr.
​ ​ ​ ​
​Second term
​Second term
​BIOL 322​3 cr.
BIOL 315​3 cr.
​BIOL 3703 cr.BIOL 3223 cr.
​BIOL 4931 cr.BIOL 3703 cr.
Elective2 or 3 cr.BIOL 493A0 cr.
9 or 10 cr. 9 cr.
​ ​ ​ ​
​Third term ​Third term
BIOL 330​3 cr.
BIOL 3323 cr.
BIOL 493A0 cr.
6 cr.

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