PhD programs

Life Sciences is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary area of sciences that aligns with priority science and technology needs for the Republic of Kazakhstan. The Ph.D. program can be compared in scope and structure to available programs in internationally leading academic institutions. The Ph.D. in Life Sciences will provide excellent instruction in core and elective subjects and will train modern high-quality life science experts which are in high demand for both existing as well as anticipated industries in Kazakhstan. The program’s research focus in combination with pedagogical training that is in compliance with the Graduate Programs Framework of Nazarbayev University (NU) has the potential to attract regional and international students to the program.

About

 The program is unique in Kazakhstan because of its interdisciplinary focus and integrated research, communications and innovation approach. Starting from the first semester students interact closely with faculty and become members of a research team. Guided by the supervisor who acts also as a research advisor, the student will be immersed in an educational, teaching, innovation and research program to gain expertise and skills to transform biological data into biological information and knowledge, and to facilitate organizational decision-making in technology and data-rich situations. Graduates of the program will be highly qualified life sciences professionals who are expected to enter careers in academia, education or research and development in the private industry or government organizations

Requirements

Applicants applying to the Ph.D in Life sciences are expected to have:

1) an undergraduate degree (Bachelor’s degree or equivalent) and master’s degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline, to be determined by the Admissions Committee (Admission Committee is in charge to decide what discipline is relevant or not).

2) a minimum CGPA of 2.75 out of 4.00 in their highest degree;

3) the required level of English proficiency;

4) two confidential letters of recommendation. One of the two recommendations shall be written by a current or previous employer or research supervisor. The second referee may be chosen at the applicant’s discretion;

5) a statement of purpose not exceeding 1000 words, explaining the motivation to enroll in the Ph.D. in Life sciences program and the tentative choice of the research subject. Applicants are encouraged to contact Faculty members to discuss potential research projects under their supervision;

6) strong reading, analytical and mathematical skills as demonstrated by GRE test (optional). Although an official GRE score is not an essential requirement, an applicant can enhance her/his application with a competitive GRE score;

7) a curriculum vitae (up to two A4 pages);

The absolute minimum requirement for English language proficiency test reports for admission to the Ph.D. Program is: overall IELTS (except IELTS Online) test score of 6.5 (with at least 6.0 in each subscore), or the equivalent TOEFL (except TOEFL Home Edition) score as posted on the ETS website.

The absolute minimum requirement for English language proficiency test report for admission to Zero Year of Graduate Programs is an overall IELTS (except IELTS Online) test score of 5.5, only one subscore out of four can be at least 5.0, other subscores must be at least 5.5 or the equivalent TOEFL (except TOEFL Home Edition) scores as posted on the ETS website.


Applicants to the Program, at the discretion of the Admissions Committee, can be exempted from submitting the language proficiency test report if:

– one of their earlier academic degrees was earned in a country with English as the language of official communication, academic instruction and daily life;

– a Master’s degree or equivalent was earned in a program which was officially taught in English;

– the applicant is a graduate of University.

Application package checklist for the Ph.D in Life sciences program:

1) complete Application form for Ph.D. Program;

2) scanned copy of official degree diplomas/certificates with transcripts (verified);

3) scanned copy of document confirming English as the language of instruction (only for applicants who earned their degree in a program which was taught in English and request an exemption from submitting IELTS (except IELTS Online) or TOEFL (except TOEFL Home Edition));

4) scanned copy of Passport/national ID (international applicants must provide a scanned copy of passport);

5) two confidential letters of recommendation written within the last 12 months (to be provided by referees via University system or in scanned copy);

6) scanned copy of a curriculum vitae (up to two A4 pages);

7) a statement of purpose not exceeding 1000 words, explaining the motivation to enroll on the Ph.D. Program, and the tentative choice of the research subject;

8) scanned copy of official document confirming name change (if applicable);

9) verified score report of valid Academic IELTS (except IELTS Online) or TOEFL (except TOEFL Home Edition) test certificate downloaded from the Test Administrator system and its scanned copy. The last IELTS (except IELTS Online)/TOEFL (except TOEFL Home Edition) certificate submitted to the Personal account will be considered in the admission competition. IELTS (except IELTS Online) or TOEFL (except TOEFL Home Edition) certificate valid (no more than 2 years) as of date of online documents submission. An applicant must indicate the Nazarbayev University as a recipient when registering for the test. In case if the applicant passed the test earlier, he/she can contact the test center and indicate the University as a recipient;

10) verified score report of valid GRE test certificate valid as of date of online documents submission and its scanned copy (optional). An applicant must indicate Nazarbayev University as a recipient when registering for the test. In case the applicant passed the test earlier, he/she can contact the test center and indicate the Nazarbayev University as a recipient.

Duration

4 years

Career and Internship Support


All students will have the opportunity to take part in a 6-12 months research internship at an international host research institution. The host supervisor and supervisory team at NU will maintain communication with the student throughout the student’s stay in order to make efficient use of the host premises and facilities for the benefit of the PhD student.

Students will be encouraged to attend Professional Development Workshops organized by CAC, SSH or the Department.

The students’ supervisor shall advise on research career options and facilitate conference attendance to present research results and enable networking

Program structure

The four-year 240 ECTS credit Ph.D. in Life Sciences is a research-intensive third cycle program designed according to the Bologna requirements. The curriculum of the program consists of three different types of courses:

core pillar courses (36 ECTS),
elective pillar courses (24 ECTS), and
research pillar courses (Thesis Research and Thesis Dissertation) 180 ECTS).

Core pillar courses consist of two disciplinary core courses (12 ECTS), and three department core courses (24 ECTS). These courses are designed to give a solid and wide base of advanced knowledge in technology and data-driven areas of biological sciences that provide the students with the opportunity to acquire the necessary theoretical and methodological knowledge to succeed in their research. These courses are planned for the first year.
A selection of department elective courses (24 ECTS) in Semesters 1 and 2 will permit students to define specialization areas according to future research and professional career goals.
The Research pillar course Thesis Research spans Years 1-2. In Semester 1 student will be given the opportunity as part of BIOL 799 Thesis Research of lab rotations to ensure an optimal fit of advisors’ and students’ research interests. In Semesters 1-2 and Summer Term 1 students develop their Thesis Proposal. Semesters 3-8 and Summer Terms 2-4 are dedicated to the thesis research only.
Courses may be waived for NU graduates and replaced by a Level-8 course (core or elective) selected by the student’s supervisory committee and approved by the corresponding departmental committee.

The list of courses for the Ph.D. in Life Sciences is given below:

Discipline Core Courses (2)
DENG 782 Research Methods & Ethics (6 ECTS)
BIOL 720 Statistical Methods in Life Sciences (6 ECTS)

Department Core Courses (3)
BIOL 750 Structural and Molecular Biology in Health and Disease (8 ECTS)
BIOL 791 Cellular Biophysics (8 ECTS)
BIOL 780 Applied Bioinformatics (8 ECTS)

Department Electives (8)
BIOL 731 Synthetic Biology (8 ECTS)
BIOL 732 Drug Discovery and Design (8 ECTS)
BIOL 735 Hot Topics in Life Sciences (6 ECTS)
BIOL 737 Advanced Optical and Electron Microscopy (8 ECTS)
BIOL 751 Advanced Topics in Cell Structure and Function (8 ECTS)
BIOL 760 Molecular Biology of Prokaryotic Cells (8 ECTS)
BIOL 770 Advanced Biotechnology (8 ECTS)
BIOL 775 Gene Therapy (8 ECTS)

Research Course (2)
BIOL 899 Thesis Research (0 ECTS)
BIOL 800 Doctoral Thesis (180 ECTS)

Learning and teaching methods utilized in the courses will include
lectures,
class discussion,
reflective assignments,
literature review,
research paper writing,
research project,
research poster design, and
oral presentation

Funding

**Ample funding is available for local and international students, with the majority receiving a full scholarship and stipend.**

 To get more details follow the link: https://nu.edu.kz/admissions/scholarships

Funding

**Ample funding is available for local and international students, with the majority receiving a full scholarship and stipend.**

To get more details follow the link: https://nu.edu.kz/admissions/formoffinance

Doctoral students are given the opportunity to work at NU as a Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) or research assistants (RAs).




Important dates
    Application periods for Ph.D. programs:
  • for International applicants: December 5, 2022 – February 28, 2023 inclusive
  • for the citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan: December 5, 2022 – April 18, 2023 inclusive
        The final deadline for submission of IELTS/TOEFL, GRE certificates
      • for International applicants: March 15, 2023 inclusive
      • for the citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan May 3, 2023 inclusive

        The start of orientation week: August 7, 2023

        First day of classes: August 14, 2023

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