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The mission of the Ph.D. program in Biology in the School of Life Sciences is to train its students to become highly competent professionals in Biology research and its related industries.

The program will strive to provide its student the best education and training for bench skills and technologies through a uniquely designed curriculum. The graduates are expected to have acquired solid basic knowledge in biology, and also a solid grasp of frontier researches and the trend in Biology and Biotechnology in the world. Through the courses and lab trainings, the graduates are expected to have acquired the ability in conducting research independently and the competence in Biotechnology R&D in industries. In addition, the graduates are also expected to command a second foreign language.


1) Microbial Physiology and Biochemistry

This field covers the research on the physiology and metabolism of microbes, as well as structure and function of microbial enzymes. An emphasis is put on microbial enzymes that degrade biomass including cellulose and lignin, as well as biomass degradation mechanisms.

2) Microbial Resources and Environmental Microbiology

This field covers the research on microbial technologies involving the microbial conversion of renewable resources, environmental protection, environmental remediation and clean production for the purpose of a sustainable progress in China.

3) Microbial Genetics and Molecular Biology

This field covers the investigations on microbial genes, structures and functions of genomes, as well as expression and regulation mechanisms that are closely related to industry, agriculture and economy. The reconstruction of metabolic pathways and microbial enzymes by modern molecular biology technology to improve strains and construct transgenic microbes is also included.

4) Microbial Resources and Ecology

This field covers the basic and applied research on model microbes, marine microbes, agricultural microbes, microbes that are involved in environmental protection and industrial microbes that have special applications. The research carried in this field includes the investigation on microbial resources, the investigation on agricultural and marine microbes, the investigation on extremophiles and their enzymes adapted to extreme conditions, the investigation on mechanism of tolerance to unfavored environments, and initial investigations on the abundant unculturable microbes in the eco-system.

5) Applied Microbiology and Fermentation Technology

This field covers the fermentation and application of microbes and their products. In particular, an emphasis is put on the fermentation and production on microbial pharmaceuticals, pesticides and livestock feed additives.

6) Plant Molecular Biology

This field covers the research on the physiological roles and molecular mechanisms of the key functional genes in crops (wheat, maize, sorghum, soybean, alfalfa and et al.,), and consequently by using molecular design and genetic modification to transform and generate high yield and quality, better stress resistance crop cultivars.

7) Plant Genetics

This field covers the basic and applied research on crops such as wheat and maize, aims to investigate the mechanisms in improvement of crop quality, nutrient, stress tolerance with genetic and epigenetic methods, and to get the essential genes and molecular locus for development of modern agriculture.

8) Plant Development Biology

This field uses model plant systems including Arabidopsis, maize, soybean and alfalfa, this field aims to search essential genes and thus to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying for plant root, leaf and whole plant development, and to clarify the fundamental mechanism of these genes in phytohormone regulation of plant development.

9) Plant Cell Biology

This field covers the investigation of plant cellular signaling network in response to abiotic and biotic stresses. The Arabidopsis, wheat and maize are used as model systems for this filed, and the genes, signal pathways and key phytohormones involved in plant drought, salinity, pathogen and nutrition deficiency, and the crosstalk among them is also included.


For full-time Ph.D. students, the regular duration of the program is four years. Early graduation can be granted for students who have fulfilled the requirements of graduation and also have stayed in the program for at least three years. The requirements for graduation please refer to “Requirement for Doctoral Degree”.

All Ph.D. students are expected to complete the course work by the end of second semester and to use the remaining 2-4 years to conduct dissertation research, which includes proposal preparation, experimentation, writing and defense of the dissertation.


1) Design of the curriculum is based on the principle of wide coverage in biology with emphasis on fundamental knowledge. The supervisor and the student’s graduate committee will provide specialized guidance to each student.

2) The supervisor and the graduate committee will guide each Ph.D. student to design a personalized Graduate Training Plan based on the requirement of the graduate program and the needs of the individual student. The designing of the Graduate Training Plan should be completed within one month after entry into this graduate program.


The curriculum for Ph.D. students should generally cover courses for one year. The total credits should be no less than 16, including 14 credits on compulsory courses and 2 credits on Elective courses. A dissertation course includes extracurricular literature reading.

The courses Ph.D. students take include Compulsory and Elective courses. For details please refer to the List of Courses.

1) Compulsory courses, 14 credits

i. China Survey, 2 credits

ii. Chinese Language, 2 credits

iii. Simulated grant application, 3 credits

iv. Compulsory courses on specialized fields, 2 credits

v. Seminars on frontiers of sciences, 5 credits. (Refer to following sections for detail)

Requirement for Seminars on frontiers of sciences:

In the form of seminars, communications and discussions, the Seminars on frontiers of sciences include review presentations by each graduate student and seminars by famous scholars. Each Ph.D. student is required to give at least 5 talks to review progress in their field of study and related fields, or their progress of research. Each Ph.D. student is required to attend at least 15 Seminars on frontiers of sciences during their graduate studies. Each Ph.D. student is required to read at least 5 English journal papers on their field of study each semester.

After fulfilling the above mentioned requirements, Ph.D. students should submit a list of papers that they presented and read, as well as a list of attended seminars signed by the faculty members hosting each seminar. During their examination the supervisor or supervisory team will grade each student based on these lists and make comments. A grade of Pass or Fail will be given to each graduate student. Those who received a Pass grade will be given 5 credits.

Examination on Simulated grant application

The Simulated grant application will be examined on the second semester. Each Ph.D. student should choose a national or international level program (Including the 973 Program, 863 Program, National Natural Science Foundation Program, The National Key Technology R&D Program of China and other national key programs on science and technology), refer to the guidance of application, strictly follow the rules of grant proposals, write in English and submit a complete grant proposal on his/her field of study or field of interest. A simulated defense will be organized by the supervisor for examination, based on which comments will be made and a grade of Pass or Fail will be issued. Those who receive a Pass grade will be given 3 credits.

2) Elective courses

Two credits of elective courses are required.

3) Supplementary courses

One to two key master-level courses in their specific majors should be taken by Ph.D. students that were from a different major or were admitted based on an equivalent education level. The grades will be kept on file but no credits will be given.


A mid-term examination (comprehensive examinations included) will be given to a Ph.D. student. One year after admission, Ph.D. students will be given a Mid-term examination which includes a presentation on dissertation proposal and oral examination. The Mid-term Examination will be held at the beginning of the third semester. The completed courses, research abilities and dissertation proposal will be examined by an Examination Committee that consists of five experts including at least two Ph.D. supervisors and organized by the Degree Sub-Committee

The Ph.D. students that pass Mid-term examinations can initiate their dissertation research. Those failed will have their Ph.D. study terminated, following rules specified by “Regulation on Graduate Student Status Management at Shandong University”.


The time spent on scientific research and dissertation by Ph.D. students should generally be no less than 3 years.

1) Dissertation proposal. The dissertation is the key on the comprehensive evaluation of training qualities and scientific abilities for graduate students. A Ph.D. dissertation proposal must be scientific, innovative and applicable, should be on the frontier of international academics, should be brave to investigate new or unknown domains, and should be of high theoretical or application values to science, technology or social development.

2) Report of dissertation proposal. Following the establishment of the dissertation proposal, the Ph.D. students are expected to write a report on the dissertation proposal within the first year of admission, discussing the purpose, significance, specific aims, anticipated results, research methods, technical routes and requirements to carry out the research. The oral report of the dissertation proposal should be publicly held during the Mid-term Examination, during which the submission of a written literature review with more than 3,000 words is required. Upon review and approval by the guidance team, a work plan should be established under the guidance of the Ph.D. supervisor and research should be initiated.

3) Routine checkups. The Ph.D. dissertation should be independently finished by the Ph.D. student under the guidance of the supervisor or the supervisory team. The progress of the dissertation should be routinely checked to appropriately adjust the research goal and methods to fulfill the requirements for the degree dissertation.

4) Preliminary defense. Three months before the formal dissertation defense, the Ph.D. student should report the level of completion of the dissertation and achievements made during the research to the supervisor or the supervisory team to broadly receive comments, to revise and polish the dissertation.

5) Quality and level of the dissertation. The completed doctoral degree dissertation should be advanced and novel in science or specialized technology, should have led to novel achievements, and should have high theoretical and applied values. The Ph.D. student should summarize the results during scientific research, and publish scientific papers relevant to the dissertation on journals in the specific field. For the minimum requirement of publications please refer to the requirement of novel achievements for doctoral degree dissertation.

6) The doctoral degree dissertation should be written following “The Uniform Requirement of Format for Graduate-level Theses in Shandong University”. The length of the doctoral degree dissertation should be between 30,000 and 100,000 words. The length of the abstract should be above 3,000 words. The dissertation should have reliable data, should be written professionally, should be written in smooth language, and should bear appropriate and reasonable analysis.

7) Three months before the dissertation defense, the Ph.D. students should report to the supervisors or the supervisory teams on the level of completion of the dissertation and the achievements made during the research. If the student passes the review of the supervisor, the supervisory team and anonymous experts in both Shandong University and other institutions, completes the writing of the dissertation, has the required credits, he/she can apply for a dissertation defense. If the student passes the defense, upon approval of the Degree Committee of Shandong University, he/she will be awarded the Ph.D. degree.

8) If a Ph.D. student fails the dissertation defense, he/she should revise the dissertation and add additional content under the supervision of the supervisor and the supervisory team. After the revised dissertation reaches the required level, the Ph.D. student may apply for another defense of the dissertation.


During graduate studies, Ph.D. students can participate in management of scientific research or teaching by providing services to the university as Research Assistants, Teaching Assistants or Management Assistants. A grade will be given by the school, department or institute that the Ph.D. student works in, based on his/her attitude and results of the work. The grade will be documented on file, but no credit will be given.

IX. Publication of research accomplishments as a result of the dissertation is required for graduation of all Ph.D. candidates. For details, please refer to “Information on Clarifying the Minimum Requirement of Novel Accomplishments for Ph.D. Degree Application at Shandong University” (SDU Graduate [2010] No.63).

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