School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies


Biology collage



“When I started my MSc. at Queen’s, all of a sudden I had this new network of friends who were interested in the same biological questions that I was- it was a ton of fun. Looking back now as I near the end of my PhD, I feel incredibly lucky about the opportunities I have had- courses I have taken and taught, the chance to work alongside other world class researchers at the biology station (QUBS), and the always entertaining weekly seminar series. I also feel quite fortunate to have had the support and resources to develop my own research project with field work from across the continent- the only downside was missing out on what happened back home during the field season!”

Rosyln Dakin, PhD candidate

Program Contact

Joanne Surette
Graduate Assistant
Department of Biology
Queen's University
Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6

Phone: 613.533.6138


Program Overview

The Biology Department at Queen’s is one of the largest departments on campus with approximately 120 graduate students supervised by 31 faculty with research opportunities in a range of disciplines including Animal Physiology, Cell & Molecular Biology, Ecology, Evolution & Behaviour, and Plant Sciences. Our faculty are world leaders in several research fields, including many Canada and Queen’s Research Chairs and winners of national and international awards for research and teaching excellence. Visit our departmental website and faculty pages to learn more about the programs and achievements of our research teams.

We offer a broad and challenging program in one of the top Biology departments in the country. We have an impressive range of sophisticated infrastructure for cell biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, ecology, and evolutionary research including: a confocal microscopy suite, DNA sequencing services, aquatic research facilities, and a state-of-the art phytotron. Our field station, comprising more than 3200 hectares of woodland, fields and lakes is a short drive away and has excellent research facilities and living quarters


Our students have the opportunity to work in leading edge laboratory facilities, including the Phytotron for Plant Research, the Microscopy Facility, the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL) and the Queen’s University Biology Station (QUBS), and more. There are plenty of opportunities to collaborate with other departments, including Geology, Psychology, Neuroscience, Biochemistry and Mathematics & Statistics. One-third of our students do field work or research in labs at other universities in Canada or abroad.

Graduate students typically participate in annual regional, national and international conferences. Many labs also engage in field work at sites from as close as our own Biological Research Station (QUBS) to the high arctic, Australia and the Latin American tropics.

Career paths – employment opportunities

Graduates from our program find work in government (Agriculture Canada, Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of the Environment, etc.), academia (teaching, research) and the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries (research, lab techs, etc.).

Degrees Offered/Method of Completion

Degrees Offered

M.Sc.: 2 years

Ph.D.: 4 years

Students who show exceptional promise in their research have the option to transfer to the PhD program after one year.

Method of Completion

M.Sc.: 4 single-term courses with minimum standing of 70% in each, research thesis and defence.

Ph.D.: research thesis and defence (some courses may be required)

Fields of study and Supervisors

We recommend that you contact a professor whom you think might be suitable to supervise the research that interests you. Although it is not strictly necessary, successful applicants tend to contact potential supervisors in advance. To initiate the application process, we suggest you send an e-mail, outlining your interests, skill, and relevant background. The best time to start corresponding with potential supervisors is in November or December of the year before you would like to begin graduate work.

  • Animal Physiology: with an emphasis on an integrative approach to physiological questions, incorporating molecular, cellular and whole animal analyses where appropriate.

Supervisors: Fran Bonier,  Christopher Moyes, Bruce Tufts, Yuxiang Wang, Diane Orihel, Alexander Little.

  • Cell & Molecular Biology: with a focus on eukaryotic organisms and an interest in developmental and biochemical problems

Supervisors:  William G. Bendena, Ian Chin-Sang, Victoria Friesen, Kenton Ko, Christopher, D. Moyes, Laurent Seroude, Adam Chippindale, Wayne A. Snedden, Paul G. Young, Jacqueline Monaghan, Maria Aristizabal, Alexander Little, George diCenzo

  • Ecology, Evolution & Behaviour: encompassing a broad range of research interests spanning molecular ecology, population genetics and phylogenetics, behaviour and the evolution of animal and plant reproductive systems.

Supervisors: Lonnie Aarssen, Shelley E. Arnott, Fran Bonier, Adam Chippindale, Rob Colautti, Brian Cumming, Christopher G. Eckert, Victoria L. Friesen, Paul Grogan, Stephen C. Lougheed, Paul Martin, Robert Montgomerie, Christopher D. Moyes, William Nelson, John Smol, Sarah Yakamowski, Diane Orihel, Jannice Fiedman.

  • Plant Sciences: employing leading edge approaches to answer some of the most pressing questions in plant biology

Supervisors: Lonnie Aarssen, Rob Colautti, Christopher G. Eckert, Kenton Ko, Daniel Lefebvre, Sharon Regan, Wayne Snedden, Jacqueline Monaghan, Jannice Friedman, Sarah Yakamowski, George diCenzo.

  • Environmental Studies: to understand and help develop solutions to challenging environmental problems at both the local and global scales.

    Supervisors: Brian Cumming, Victoria Friesen, Stephen Lougheed, Diane Orihel, John Smol, Yuxiang Wang.

Funding, Academic Prerequisites & Deadline

Funding Information

Master’s: Minimum $24,300 (guaranteed 2 yrs)

Ph.D.: Minimum $24,800 (guaranteed 4 yrs)

Students may also apply for internal awards and external funding including OGS, NSERC, CIHR scholarships, and the Graduate Deans’ Doctoral Field Travel Award. Entering graduate students who win federal government tri-council awards are automatically provided a one time $5,000 (Masters), $10,000 (PhD) top-up award by Queen’s.

Academic Prerequisites

M.Sc. : Upper second class standing (B+ - 75% - 3.3/4.3 GPA) in an Honour’s Bachelor Arts & Sciences program. Some students may need to take additional courses.

Ph.D.: M.Sc. in Biology or direct entry from B.Sc. for exceptional candidates.

Test Requirements

If required, international students TOEFL score of 550 (paper based) or TOEFL iBT minimum scores of: writing (24/30); speaking (22/30); reading (22/30); listening (20/30), for a total of 88/120. Applicants must have the minimum score in each test as well as the minimum overall score.

Key Dates and Deadlines

Application Deadline: March 1 for Canadian Students, February 15th for International Students

Notification of Acceptance: On an ongoing basis as completed applications are processed 

The Department of Biology now offers a combined program of a B.ScH/MSc.

This program will serve to expedite the progress of Biology 537 Honour’s students who carry first-class standing through an MSc degree, typically shortening the MSc program by two academic terms.

Biol 537 students who are interested in the combined B.ScH/MSc program would typically complete up to two graduate courses (3.0 credits each) as electives during their fourth year in addition to any courses required for their UG degree. These grad courses will count towards BOTH their UG degree and their MSc (a strategy known as “laddering”). Only one of these may be a 400/500-level undergrad course (workload to be scaled as grad course). In order to enroll in a grad course as an undergrad you need: (i) approval from each of the following: course instructor, Chair of Undergraduate Studies in Biology, and the School of Graduate Studies, (ii) to hold first-class standing (e.g. B+ average in your previous two years of undergrad). Once enrolled, you need to achieve the academic standing required of grad courses (i.e., min equivalent of B- in each) in order for them to count toward an MSc but simply passing the courses will suffice for them to count toward a B.ScH. You still need to complete all aspects of your BScH in the normal timeframe. Once you have completed your B.ScH and have been accepted into our MSc program, all standard requirements of the MSc degree apply.

How do I enter the combined MSc program

In addition to taking Biol537, you would take one or two graduate courses in Biology (or another department but approved by our Grad Studies Committee) as electives. In order to enroll in graduate courses, you need permission of the instructor, Undergrad Chair, and SGS. Either an Academic Change Form-SGS or a regular undergrad add/drop form can be used to add grad courses as an undergrad.

For more details and answers to FAQs/responses go to the  Biology website.

Learning Outcomes

Grad Maps

View the Grad Maps for this department and all graduate degrees on the Career Services website


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