PhD in Biological Design

PhD in Biological Design

ASU’s PhD in Biological Design prepares students to effectively apply a specific expertise to large research endeavors as part of an interdisciplinary team. This approach prepares students for careers in academic, governmental or commercial organizations. The program offers an excellent work environment and competitive compensation.

The program is a joint effort by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, The Biodesign Institute, and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. As a result, students work with faculty across disciplines, take courses from a variety of areas, and interact with students from various degree programs. The faculty work across ASU in multiple different disciplines.

The doctor of philosophy in Biological Design is conferred upon evidence of excellence in research resulting in a scholarly dissertation that is a contribution to knowledge. The application process is very competitive and candidates are encouraged to adhere to all priority deadlines.

Application and admission information


Fall semester admission: PhD application priority deadline is December 31. Applications submitted after that deadline will be considered. However, for full consideration for fellowships, applications should be submitted by the deadline.

Spring semester admission: PhD application priority deadline is August 1Please note, typically only a few candidates are admitted for spring (if any).

Research opportunities

The research opportunities within the program address urgent, societally-relevant challenges. Examples include:

  • Faster, more accurate detection and diagnosis of disease
  • Personalized treatments that reduce side-effects
  • Sustainable energy sources

Students in Biological Design will gain insight into innovating new technologies and using them to create new basic knowledge. This new dimension in scientific literacy will not be at the expense of traditional excellence in discipline training, but adds a focus on how to interface disciplines.

Is the Biological Design degree right for you?

ASU also offers separate degrees in biological sciences, physical sciences and engineering. The Biological Design degree is designed to coalesce the training opportunity for PhD students whose goal is to focus heavily on “grand challenge” innovations via multidisciplinary partnerships. If your interest is in working in a team setting on large projects, Biological Design is a great choice.

A new approach

Advances in human and environmental health are increasingly dependent on large, interdisciplinary teams working together. The need for big science requires profound changes in how research is organized and funded and in the way future scientists are educated. The good news is that, through more collaborative science, the PhD students of today have an opportunity to contribute more significantly than ever before to the quality of life on Earth for generations to come.

Arizona State University has taken advantage of an unmatched ability to build a graduate program around this rapidly emerging new trajectory for science. Thanks to our comparatively recent emergence as a research university, we’ve been able to build interdisciplinary programs from the ground up, avoiding the need to deconstruct long standing programs created around traditional academic silos.

How to apply

Applications for the Biological Design PhD program are submitted and processed through the ASU Graduate College. Prior to submitting the online application, candidates should have their Personal Statement and Resume ready to be uploaded into the application as .doc, .rtf, .pdf, or .txt file types. Additionally, candidates should have the names and emails of their recommenders ready to enter into the online application.

Send transcripts and test scores to:

Regular Mail

Graduate College
Admission Services Applicant Processing
Arizona State University
PO Box 871004
Tempe AZ 85287-1004

FedEx, DHL, UPS etc.

FedEx, DHL (any sender who will not send to a P.O. Box)
Arizona State University
Admission Services Applicant Processing
1150 East University Drive Building C, Room 226
Tempe, AZ 85281

Personal statement

This document should reflect your career and educational goals, and should explain why you are interested in pursuing this program. Candidates should describe their prior and current research experience. Your statement should be 1-3 pages.


Your resume should reflect your prior research and employment experience and list honors, awards, memberships held and any publications.

GRE test scores

The institution code for ASU is 4007 and the department code is 0000 or 5199. Subject test scores are also recommended but not required.

Letters of recommendation

Please enter the names and contact information for three recommenders into the online application where requested. Recommendations should be relative to your academic career. Recommenders will receive the request to provide recommendations by automatic email.

For additional Graduate College application requirements, including transcripts, fee and international application requirements, please see the ASU Graduate College.

Financial assistance

Teaching or Research Assistant/Associate (TA/RA) positions are typically reserved for Ph.D. students. Applicants who submit their complete applications by the priority deadline will also be considered for fellowships.

Visit the tuition and paying for college page for financial assistance resources.

Curriculum and program information

View PhD in Biological Design curriculum and program