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Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 60 months
University rank #85 (QS) Houston, TX, United States
Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology (SSPB) is emerging as one of the most important areas of life sciences of the 21st century. While the past several decades have been dubbed the Information Age, the coming era will likely be a Biological Age where organisms are engineered to create technologies that transform agriculture, electronics, energy, information storage, medicine, and manufacturing
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  • The SSPB Graduate Program is designed to provide students with the knowledge and tools that they will need to solve hard research questions and to apply their discoveries to the development of biotechnologies that transform agriculture, electronics, energy, the environment, information storage, medicine, and manufacturing.
  •  Our program was established collaboratively by faculty in Engineering and Natural Sciences who share the belief that breakthrough discoveries in biological research and biotechnology now require problem-solving that integrates experimental biochemical, cellular, and genetics approaches with computational design, simulation, and modelling.
  • The SSPB curriculum is designed to provide students a strong foundation in the life sciences and the skills needed to integrate biological inquiry with rigorous, quantitative mathematics and physics. 

Upon completing the PhD degrees in the field of Systems, Synthetic and Physical Biology, students graduating will:

  • Develop knowledge of the breadth of topics within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines that underlie the foundations of Systems, Synthetic and Physical Biology.
  • Demonstrate the critical thinking skills and ability to integrate knowledge from diverse STEM fields to solve biological problems.
  • Demonstrate the written communication skills required for a thesis describing independent research, published research, and external research proposals.
  • Demonstrate the effective oral and visual communication skills necessary for articulating scientific findings and significance to diverse audiences.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 60 months
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

To provide students the tools that they will need to be world-class investigators, our core curriculum covers three synergistic topics:

  • Synthetic Biology — the “bottom-up” construction of biomolecules and cellular systems and their applications to increasing our understanding of biological processes and enabling new biotechnologies.
  • Systems Biology — the emergence of functional properties in complex biological systems that are not presented by the individual components (genes, transcripts, enzymes, and metabolites).
  • Physical Biology — the development of models that anticipate the properties of natural and synthetic cellular systems by integrating biology with chemistry, physics, mathematics, and computer science.

English Language Requirements

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Get a free IELTS practice test
  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120. Read more about TOEFL iBT ®.

    Schedule TOEFL®
  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL®PBT is administered in a paper format and measures your ability to use and understand English in a classroom setting at the college or university level. It accurately measures how well you can listen, read and write in English while performing academic tasks. Read more about TOEFL®PBT.

    Schedule TOEFL®

Academic Requirements

  • This programme does not recognise GRE® scores.

    The GRE® General Test is a widely administered admissions test that measures the skills needed in today's graduate and business school programs worldwide. The GRE® General Test contains three sections - Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Three scores are reported: a Verbal Reasoning score on a 130 - 170 score scale in one-point increments, a Quantitative Reasoning score on a 130 - 170 score scale in one-point increments, and an Analytical Writing score on a 0 - 6 score scale in half-point increments.

General Requirements

Candidates must submit: 

  • Transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate schools attended

  • At least three letters of recommendation from research mentors, teachers, or advisors

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores - The verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing scores must be reported.
  • International students requiring visas will also require the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
  • A curriculum vitae (CV) can be included and will be reviewed by the admissions committee, but this is not a required component of the application. You can upload your CV in the "Documents" section of the application system in pdf format.
  • The application fee of $85

Tuition Fee

  • International

    46600 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 46600 USD per year and a duration of 60 months.
  • National

    46600 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 46600 USD per year and a duration of 60 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.

Living costs for Houston

  • 1067 - 1950 USD/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


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