Saint Louis University

Programs of Study

The Integrated and Applied Sciences program offers a research-intensive Ph.D. degree with emphasis in specific concentrations given by the appointment of the primary mentor. These concentrations are:

(i) Chemistry: Analysis and Physical Characterization; Synthesis and Materials (Department of Chemistry)

(ii) Biology: Bioinformatics, Integrated Geospatial Biology (Department of Biology)

(iii) Physics: Nanomaterials and Condensed Matter (Department of Physics)

(iv) Environmental Sciences & GIS (Center for Environmental Science/Center for Sustainability/Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences)

(v) Sustainability Science (Center for Sustainability) 

The majority of the coursework will be in the discipline-specific department or center, although students are required to take courses in other departments as well as courses specific to the Integrated and Applied Sciences program. Details on the specific degree requirements can be found in the full IAS Handbook.

The distribution of courses in the various IAS areas is determined by the student in consultation with their primary research mentor with a minimum total of 30 credit hours of instructional coursework required. Some portion of these units may be fulfilled from an appropriate Masters program taken at SLU. A total of 42 credit hours are required for completion of the Ph.D. with the remaining 12 credit hours coming from dissertation credits. 

Assuming successful completion of oral and written comprehensive exams, students should complete the Ph.D. program in 4 to 5 years. Students entering the program with an appropriate Masters degree may complete the program in 2 to 3 years (pending approval of Advanced Standing), again assuming successful completion of oral and written comprehensive exams.

I. Participating Departmental Core Courses (9-12 Credit Hours)

Students choose a core department (typically where the primary research mentor is housed). Lecture or laboratory-based 5000 and 6000 level courses are taken in the core department. 4000 level courses may be taken in accordance with Graduate Program rules.

II. Interdisciplinary Credits (18-21 Credit Hours)

Courses are selected from outside of the core department, in addition to Interdisciplinary Seminar and Current Topics courses as described below.

  • Courses from a department outside of the core department (6 credit hours). These may be taken from:
    • Chemistry
    • Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Mathematics and Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Biomedical Sciences
    • Center for Sustainability
  • Interdisciplinary Seminar (4 credit hours)
  • Current Topics in Interdisciplinary Research (8 credit hours)
  • Interdisciplinary Research (0-3 credit hours)

A seminar course, IAS 6010 Interdisciplinary Seminar (1-2 credit hours per semester), is taken for at least 4 semesters. Additionally, students are required to take Current Topics in Interdisciplinary Research, IAS 6030, where students investigate and discuss current scientific literature across the various disciplines. Both courses feature lectures and discussion across disciplinary boundaries. Students are also encouraged to become actively engaged in interdisciplinary research outside their particular field of specialization, especially as it relates to their own primary research project.

III. Dissertation Credits (12 Credit Hours)

The Dissertation Committee consists of the primary research mentor, a secondary research mentor from a department outside the student’s core department, and 1-3 other members of the Graduate Faculty (depending at what stage of candidacy the student is at). While the primary mentor serves as the main director for their graduate student’s research project, the secondary mentor also plays an important role in the direction and research advising of the student. The secondary mentor meets with the primary mentor and graduate student to collaborate on experimental design and planning as well as subsequent implementation.

Typical Degree Timeline:

Year Date/Semester Curricular Activity Curricular Activity Progress


Coursework + preliminary research
Coursework + research

Student consults (and/or works) with primary mentor and secondary mentor is selected.
Coursework + research
Coursework + research
Coursework + research
Student takes Comprehensive Written Exam (focus on knowledge in required field(s))
3 Fall, Spring, & Summer Dissertation research (IAS 6990) and Seminar/Current Topics courses (IAS 6010/6030) - Fall, Spring only. Student takes pre-candidacy Dissertation Oral Proposal Exam (focus on proposed dissertation research objectives). Student advances to Ph.D. Candidacy.
4 Fall, Spring, & Summer Dissertation research (IAS 6990) and Seminar/Current Topics courses (IAS 6010/6030) - Fall, Spring only. Student defends dissertation.
Higher purpose. Greater good.
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