Graduate Information


Most of the offices and laboratories of the graduate research and teaching faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences at Auburn University are housed in Funchess Hall and the Rouse Life Sciences Building. The department is also the home unit for both the Donald E. Davis Arboretum and Auburn University's Museum of Natural History. A cooperating marine laboratory, the  Dauphin Island Sea lab, is located on Dauphin Island, AL. The University holds memberships to the Alabama-Mississippi Marine Consortium, which enables students to work at the  Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and to the  Organization for Tropical Studies, which operates the La Selva Field Station in Costa Rica. The department maintains extensive collections of plant and animal specimens for teaching and research. A  herbarium, research greenhouses, and growth chambers are also available. Students have complete access to facilities providing statistical analysis, computer programming, and high-performance computation. The department also maintains an on-campus facility for housing research collections of live plants and animals as well as field study sites.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs)

Many graduate students in the Department of Biological Sciences participate in the departmental teaching program as graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) during their residence. Students granted 'regular-support' GTAs extend for 4 semesters (2 academic years) for Master's and 10 semesters (5 academic years) for Ph.D. students. Students typically assist faculty lecture instructors in laboratories of undergraduate courses. While there is no formal departmental teaching requirement during the graduate program, graduate students are strongly encouraged to participate as GTAs, both to broaden and enhance their academic experience and training and to assist the Department in the central mission of undergraduate education in the biological sciences at Auburn University.

The GTA is considered an integral part of the departmental teaching program. GTAs directly assist the lecture instructor in the classroom or laboratory, and provide necessary expertise in the course not adequately covered by the faculty given the large number of course offerings and associated labs / lab sections. In this sense the GTA serves as a key link between the undergraduate student and faculty instructor, which facilitates the educational experience and training of the undergraduate and graduate student alike. In exchange for their service all GTAs receive a monthly stipend, and those on at least a 25%-time appointment also receive a tuition waiver from the Graduate School.

Responsibilities of Graduate Teaching Assistants

Students with a 33%-time (normal) teaching appointment are expected to work approximately 8 hours of formal instruction time (8 contact hours) per week during the semester, with a normal work load of approximately 13-1/3 hours per week. Work loads for students holding greater or lesser appointments are adjusted proportionately. Beyond formal instruction and personal preparation time for GTA the assignment, duties of GTAs may include, but are not necessarily limited to: 1) attending formal prep sessions given by the faculty instructor or course coordinator; 2) proctoring exams from lab and/or lecture; 3) holding ‘open labs' prior to laboratory exams; 4) grading exams, quizzes and/or other assignments from lab and/or lecture; and 5) compiling complete and accurate records of student grades from laboratory exercises. All GTAs are required to attend formal prep sessions each week, if the latter are given. Specific duties of the GTA should be described in detail by the faculty instructor or lab coordinator at the beginning of the semester.

Graduate Research Assistantships

During their residence many graduate students in the Department actively participate in research programs of individual faculty, as graduate research assistants (GRAs). Support for GRAs typically come from faculty grants and contracts, and data collected by the GRA often can be used in partial fulfillment of the student thesis (M.S.) or dissertation (Ph.D.) requirement. GRA awards are made by the faculty member in need of research assistance rather than by the Department, on an individual and competitive basis. Students are encouraged to contact prospect faculty advisors directly about GRA positions. A limited number of short-term (summer) GRAs also are available from the Department, to assist students during the final (i.e., writing) stages of their program.

Tuition Assistance

In addition to a monthly stipend, GTAs on at least a 25%-time appointment also receive a tuition waiver from the Graduate School, in the form of a Graduate Teaching Fellowship.

COSAM Student Travel Fund

The College of Sciences and Mathematics provides modest support for COSAM graduate students to present their own thesis research at scientific meetings.  Each graduate student can receive at most one COSAM travel award in any three consecutive review periods. Preference is given to previously unfunded students who are nearing graduation, students with strong proven records of productivity as shown through publication or other evidence of strong research scholarship, and students who have attempted to obtain support from other sources, such as the Graduate School or the agency running the meeting. The quality of the graduate faculty advisor letter is closely examined to because it confirms information elsewhere in the application, and further indicates the level of support the advisor has for the student. Applications lacking any part of the packet will not be considered. If it is detected that the application is incomplete, and if the incomplete state of the application is detected before the deadline, we will try to contact the student and/or advisor to appraise them of the situation, but there is no guarantee that we will be able to do so. If the incomplete application is discovered after the deadline, it will not be considered. Thus, it behooves the student to be complete and careful in the application effort. COSAM Graduate Student Travel Fund application website

Campus Resources

General information

DBS Graduate Handbook
Health Insurance
Biology Graduate Student Information
Graduate Faculty