The objective of the graduate program is to train the students to carry out advanced and high-technology research in areas. The program covers molecular biology applications such as molecular genetics, ecological and evolutionary genetics, biochemistry, microbiology, cancer biology, plant sciences, molecular biophysics, biomaterials, molecular pharmacology and toxicology, biomedical techniques, biotechnology, neurophysiology, and ecology.

Course List

Compulsory Courses
Course Code Course Name METU Credit Contact (h/w) Laboratory (h/w) ECTS Credit
BIOL558 Bioethics and Research Methods 0 0 0 10.0
GENE600 Ph.D. Thesis 0 0 0 130.0
GENE601 Seminars in Molecular Biology and Genetics I 0 0 2 10.0

h/w: hours per week

7 elective course(s) approved by the Department of Biology.

Total minimum credit: 21

The Qualification Exam includes a written project proposal followed by an oral defense, which is graded as the written and oral examinations, respectively. The exam is designed to assess the Ph.D. candidate's ability to come up with an independent hypothesis-derived research question. The Qualification Exam is conducted in English in its entirety. The exam is held twice a year, in May and November.


  • March/Sept Students submit the names of potential jury members (5 member names from ODTÜ, 4 from outside ODTÜ), the title and an abstract for their proposal to the qualification exam committee by email (
  • March/Sept The committee evaluates the abstract and decides on the final jury composition, and informs the student (within 2 days).
  • April/October 4 weeks later, the student submits her/his project proposal (please see below for guidelines on how to prepare the proposal) by email to the qualification exam committee ( The proposal is sent to the jury members (3 from ODTÜ, 2 from outside ODTÜ) within 2 days.
  • May/November The jury members submit their evaluations with a grade out of 100.
  • May/November The qualification exam committee informs the student about the outcome. If the student passes the written project proposal (minimum average of 70/100), the student can take the oral exam. The oral exam is held in the last week of May or November.

Qualifying Exam (QE) Project Proposal Topic

The QE involves the preparation and assessment of an original research project proposal by the student that is independent of the Ph.D. topic. The student should submit one short descriptive title and an abstract (maximum word limit of 400 words) along with his/her current or expected PhD thesis topic.

The advisor must write a signed declaration, and s/he has not and will not play any role in the design and writing of the proposal. Both student and advisor must also write a signed declaration that the proposed topic has no overlap with the PhD research topic, as well as ongoing or completed grants from the lab. This rule aims to ensure that the QE proposal does not overlap with existing proposals. In the event that the qualification exam committee detects such an overlap, the student will be asked to re-take the exam in the next round with a fresh proposal.


The evaluation will include a critical assessment of the written project proposal and oral exam. The overall purpose is to evaluate the student's analytical thinking skills, including abilities in forming testable hypotheses, developing realistic experimental strategies, identifying the risks, and suggesting plans to mitigate the risks.

Written Project Proposal Evaluation

Evaluation of the written project proposal is as follows:

  • Background and Literature Review - 25 points
  • Scientific and Technological Excellence - 20 points
  • Methodology - 30 points
  • Work-Time Schedule - 5 points
  • Risk Management - 10 points
  • Overall quality - 10 points
  • Total - 100 points

The mean of the grades by the five (5) QEC members will be calculated as the written examination grade. Any submission that receives an average grade of <70/100 will be considered as a failure, and the student will not be invited for the oral examination.

Oral Examination

The oral examination will include questions to evaluate the student's theoretical background and analytical skills in the field. The student may also be expected to defend her/his project proposal and demonstrate that the ideas and content were originally developed by herself/himself.

The jury will independently grade the oral examination. If the mean grade is <70/100, the student will fail. If a student fails only the oral examination, he/she may choose to submit the same project proposal for the next round of the exam.

Project Proposal Rules

Draft a project proposal of a maximum of 10 pages (Arial, 11pt, 1.5 spacing). This page limit excludes work time schedules and a list of references. These sections are submitted separately. The project proposal will assume a duration of three (3) years.

1. Abstract of the Project

This section is a scientifically oriented executive summary of the project. It will describe the following aspects in separate paragraphs with brief and informative statements [maximum 400 words].

  1. A brief introduction to the topic
  2. Aim of the project and its importance/originality
  3. Theoretical approach and guideline of the methodology used,
  4. Expected contributions to the field.

Keywords: Up to 10 keywords.

2. Background and Literature Review

This section will describe the current state of the art and ongoing developments in fields relevant to the project, including personal previous work if applicable. This section also includes an assessment of future research needs that encompass a literature review about the related scientific and technological field and the assessment of how the project will contribute to those areas [maximum three (3) pages].

3. Scientific and Technological Excellence

This section will state methodological/conceptual/theoretical contributions to the related scientific and technological areas. It will explain the quality of the project (sound concept, quality of objectives, methodology) and its innovative potential [maximum one (1) page].

4. Methodology

This section will include a description of the approach and research design in relation to the project objectives and research questions. It is advised that this section is presented as work packages and explains clearly the quality and effectiveness of the scientific and technological methodology and research techniques (including data collection techniques, tools, and data analysis methods) with references to the literature [maximum four (4) pages].

5. Risk Management

This section will describe the risks that can affect the success of the project negatively and clearly describe the alternative plan(s) (Plan-B) that will be implemented in case of encountering such obstacles [maximum one (1) page].

Qualification Committee Members

  • Prof. Ayşe Gül Gözen
  • Assoc. Prof. Çağdaş Devrim Son
  • Prof. Mehmet Somel
  • Prof. Mesut Muyan
  • Prof. Sreeparna Banerjee

The following rules for the formation of thesis defense committees were accepted by the University Graduate Committee.

Ph.D. Examination committee composition

  1. Thesis defense examination committees consist of 5 members. The members include the thesis supervisor and two “thesis advisory committee” members, one of whom must be from another university. For the remaining two, one of the members must be from another university.

All the members must hold academic positions (at least instructor position with Ph.D. degree)

  1. The co-supervisors could attend the thesis advisory committee meetings, and defense examinations as observers only but cannot participate in decision-making.