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PhDDoctoral School of Biology

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Program description:
The Doctoral School of Biology of Eötvös Loránd University was founded in 2001. It is the largest postgraduate biology program in the country, offering research oriented training in a wide range of areas of modern biology. The main topics include theoretical and evolutionary biology, ethology, ecology, and conservation biology, molecular neurobiology, physiology, human biology, immunology, experimental plant science, cell biology, microbiology, molecular genetics and cell biology, structural biochemistry, taxonomy. The selection of courses covers both theoretical background and lab or field skills and experience. The training emphasizes practical skills: the majority of credits are earned with supervised research work under personal tutoring by leading researchers. Students are involved in collaborative research taking advantage of the collaboration networks within the institute and with international partner institutions. The aim of the training is to fully prepare students for a successful career in the life sciences: either in basic research or in the industry.
The programs are strongly research-oriented: apart from attending specialized courses, the students start their research work well before the end of the first year. At the end of each year the students report about their research progress. Students are expected to publish at least two papers in peer-reviewed internationally renowned journals of their field.

Strength of program
The Institute of Biology employs more than one hundred full or part time professors and teachers who have many years of teaching experience and are well-recognised scientists in their field of work and further distinguished researchers work in close association with the Institute as senior scientists and grant holders. Members of the Institute of Biology have a wide range of international contacts and collaborate with several outstanding research institutes and universities both in and outside Hungary, and regularly invite foreign visitors to do research and/or to give courses.

Entry requirements:
A masters degree in biology or chemistry is a mandatory requirement.

Entrance exam:

Type of entrance exam:

Entrance exam location:

Entrance exam description:
Oral entrance interview with focus on the applicant’s knowledge compared to what might be supposed from the submitted documents on former qualification and the goals and methods of the planned research project. Written supplements and exercises might be demanded in order to measure qualification and language procifiency. Criteria for ranking in the admission procedure shall include: 1. previous university achievements (examinations, comprehensive examinations, qualification of degree), 2. achievements related to previous research work (awards obtained in students’ academic circles, publications in the particular professional area), 3. the feasibility of the research program.”,

Ms Éva Nagy
international coordinator

Preparatory year available:

Specialisation year available:


Leading professor of the program:
Title: Dr
Name: Anna ERDEI
Academic rank: Professor

The Biology Doctoral School consists of the following programs:

1. Ecology, Conservation Biology and Systematics
Leader: Prof. János Podani –
The goal of this program is to launch PhD studies devoted to plant ecology, plant systematics and conservation biology. In particular, we expect students interested in grasslands and forest communities, theory and practice of taxonomy and conservation and restoration ecology. This program is recommended to applicants who have sufficient background in these subjects, at least at the level of MSc, and who are interested in the supraindividual organization of plant life. This program enables students to improve their knowledge in the above subject areas and to complete a PhD thesis within 4 years.

2. Ethology-Behavioral Biology
Leader: Prof. Adam Miklósi –
The goal of this program is to give training in a wide range of behavioral sciences focusing on ethology but also including some knowledge in experimental psychology, cognitive sciences and applied animal behavior. This program is recommended to applicants who wish to gain a deeper knowledge in the behavior sciences and prefer to obtain broad experience. Students with genetic or neuroscience background have the opportunity to work in projects on functional neuro-imagining or behavior genetics. At the moment we are focusing on dog-human interaction, dog aging, comparative cognition, neuroethology of communication in dogs and humans and ethorobotics. This program enables students to familiarize themselves with a wide range of research methods used in the behavior sciences, learn about design and application of ethograms, practice the presentations of research findings, and learn about the behavior of dogs, cats, and minipigs and robots.

3. Immunology
Leader: Prof. Zsuzsa Bajtay –
Anna Erdei –
The goal of this program is to foster discoveries and to provide state-of-the-art training and mentoring to establish academic and industrial research careers in immunology and its related fields. This program is recommended to applicants who are motivated to do scientific research in various fields of basic, applied and clinical immunology, and are familiar with basic knowledge and laboratory skills. During the PhD studies students will carry out research projects using up-to-date methods and will be taught how to plan experiments and critically evaluate and present data obtained. Experimental models range from primary cells, long-term cultured cell lines and various animal models. The program offers comprehensive training and enables students to master methods including cytofluorimetry, confocal microscopy, a wide variety of immunolabeling approaches, ELISA and ELISpot and several molecular biology techniques. Research progress is monitored by semi-annual reporting of the students.

4. Experimental Plant Biology
Leader: Gábor M. Kovács, PhD –
The research topics represented in the Experimental Plant Biology Program are both thematically and methodologically diverse. The program is recommended to applicants who are interested and have a background in the fields of the plant biology, physiology, plant-microbe interaction, mycology or environmental microbiology. In many cases, the PhD research topics are undertaken in cooperation of different national and international bodies. The degree of collaboration and cooperation within the research groups and institutes involved into the Program, as well as the various topics and diverse methodologies, supports professional development and provides an opportunity for students to acquire an enhanced understanding of complex topics through interdisciplinary exposure.

5. Genetics
Leader: Prof. Tibor Vellai –
The goal of this program is to give a comprehensive PhD training program for those interested in different aspects of the discipline genetics. Genetics is a central, integrating part of modern biological sciences. Our program covers the following fields: classical and molecular genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, human and medical genetics, DNA polymorphism, epigenetics, developmental genetics and microbial genetics. The program is particularly suitable for candidates who intend to work on in vivo model systems including bacteria, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, zebrafish, and the thale cress (plant) Arabidopsis thaliana. It also provides the opportunity to learn various in vitro and in situ methods, working on different types of mammalian (in particular human) cell cultures. This program is recommended to applicants who have strong interest and motivation in learning various aspects of genetics. Candidates should have an MSc degree and some experience in techniques at the field of molecular biology, cell biology and genetics. The latter is not essential but advantageous. Although both theoretical (bioinformatics, evolutionary genetics) and experimental projects can be established in the frame of the education, the program is mainly oriented in practical ranges.
This program enables students to take the possibility to learn various theoretical aspects of genetics but also the opportunity to participate in research teamwork. The PhD degree obtained in our program will enable the young postdocs to apply jobs with high success at international laboratories worldwide, having high standards. Applied (e.g. genomics projects) and medical genetics are also in the main focus in our education; job possibilities at fields of in vivo modeling of certain human diseases and the genetic (functional) analysis of candidate genes are particularly among the future possibilities.

6. Molecular Cell and Neurobiology
Leader: Prof. Gábor Juhasz –
The goal of this program is to foster discoveries in Molecular Cell Biology and Neurobiology. Usual experimental models range from long-term cultured human cell lines and various primary cells (including neurons and stem cells) to animal models such as Drosophila, mouse, rat, and even human samples. This program is recommended to applicants who are motivated to address outstanding questions in molecular cell biology and related fields, and plan to pursue a career in research and development. This program enables students to master methods such as confocal and electron microscopy, various immunolabeling approaches, and molecular biology techniques including western blotting, recombinant DNA manipulation, genetic analysis and mutagenesis/transgenesis. Students will also be taught how to design experiments and research directions, critically evaluate data and prepare manuscripts.

7. Neuroscience and Human Biology
Leader: Prof. László Détári –
The goal of the program is to give an opportunity to PhD students to work on exciting research projects in well-equipped laboratories using state-of-the-art in vitro and in vivo research techniques. In addition, students can get insight into various fields of neurosciences and human biology by selecting from a diverse set of courses extending from the level of molecular and cellular neuroscience to behavior and anthropology. This program is recommended to applicants who have a strong commitment to do scientific research in neurophysiology, behavioral, and systems neuroscience and human biology, and got the necessary basic knowledge and laboratory skills during their Master’s program. This program enables students to plan and carry out research projects using up-to-date methods of their field, to critically evaluate data obtained, and share new information with the scientific community in English. The students will acquire knowledge necessary for international scientific career in academia as well as in industry.

8. Structural Biochemistry
Leader: Prof. Mihály Kovács –
The goal of this program is to provide state-of-the-art training and mentoring to establish academic and industrial research careers in the broadly defined area of molecular biology. The program is recommended to applicants with a background in biology, chemistry, medicine or engineering. The program enables students to gain all skills that are crucial for creative and productive research design and execution. The development of an attitude towards independent thinking and career planning is an important goal of the program. The program offers comprehensive training covering key areas of structural and molecular biology, protein science, enzymology and molecular biophysics, bioinformatics, drug design and statistical analysis. Tutoring of students and research progress is aided and monitored by annual reporting and a committee feedback system.

9. Zootaxonomy, Animal Ecology and Hydrobiology
Leader: Prof. János Török –
The goal of this program is to offer training in (a) classical as well as molecular taxonomy, (b) ecological processes of various time and spatial scale focusing on behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology, and © organization and functioning of aquatic communities of running waters and lakes. This program is recommended to applicants who received degree in M.Sc. (in biology), M.D., D.V. or D.D. in which the curriculum included ecology, evolutionary biology, animal systematics and hydrobiology as major subjects. This program enables students to gain a detailed practical experience in the state-of-art methodology that is used in the research project they join in. At the same time, they can get a firm knowledge, through seminars and regular courses about current theoretical issues, as well as methods relevant to a complex approach to problems encountered during their training.

10. Theoretical and Evolutionary Biology
Leader: Prof. Eörs Szathmary –
The goal of this program is to provide high-level postgraduate training in the areas of ecology and evolutionary biology, with a strong emphasis on theoretical and computational approaches. The program benefits from close collaboration with academic research groups, with active research fields and curricula spanning the origin and early evolution of life, the major transitions in evolution, the emergence of cooperation and language, and various problems of theoretical ecology. This program is recommended to applicants with an inclination towards theoretical research (theory, formal and computational modelling), and an interest in the ultimate ‘why’ questions of biology. This program enables students to formulate hypotheses on problems of ecology and evolution, to develop mathematical and computational models for the analysis of biological systems, and to apply models for the validation of formalized hypotheses.

Career opportunities

Biology is the science of the 21st century. Students finishing our doctoral program in biology will have the necessary skills to apply for jobs around the globe. While many of our former students obtain postdoctoral positions throughout the world, a large portion of them gets tenure or tenure track positions at universities or research institutes. Some of our graduates pursue their research career in the non-academic environment of large international research institutions, tied to high-tech development or to the economic or financial world.

Job examples:


Not available for applying at the moment

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States

Not available for applying at the moment

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States