Biological Sciences

Doctor of Arts in Biology

The best way to foster appreciation
of longterm values is to foster acquisition
of longterm knowledge.
-paraphrased from Aristotle

The Doctor of Arts (D.A.) is a terminal degree that produces graduates who are both excellent instructors and knowledgeable biologists. Scholars who graduate with a D.A. in Biology are exceptionally prepared to design and teach a variety of Biology courses at the College level and have practiced doing so throughout the course of the program.

D.A. Graduates in Biology have a better than 95% success rate at attaining faculty positions at colleges and universities throughout the country.

History of the Doctor of Arts Degree

The Doctor of Arts degree was established as a terminal degree in response to pressure to emphasize college and university teaching as an integral part of the attainment of an advanced degree. It was intended to develop the skills of people interested in teaching at the undergraduate level.

The first D. A. program was established at Carnegie-Mellon University in the Fall of 1967. The Committee on Graduate Studies of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States both sanctioned the D.A. in 1970. The Carnegie Foundation subsequently funded it, providing seed money to 10 Universities, including Idaho State, to institutionalize the degree.

Since 1972 - 1973, Idaho State University has granted over 70 Doctor of Arts degrees to students in the Department of Biological Sciences.

More about the Doctor of Arts Degree: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctor_of_Arts

"A history of the doctor of arts tradition in American higher education"
Education, Summer 2003, by White, Stephen R,McBeth, Mark K

Back to top

Frequently asked questions

How does the D.A. differ from the Ph.D.?
D.A. programs require broader study in the disclipine, more awareness of interdisciplinary relationships, and, not least, theoretical and practical preparation in pedagogy. Such requirements reflect an awareness of what the undergraduate teacher will be doing.
Does D.A. training ignore research?
No. Like the Ph.D., the D.A. requires that the recipient be well qualified in research techniques; but with a different emphasis. D.A. recipients regard themselves not as researchers primarily - but as teachers. Their research capability is a means of informing both the content and method of their teaching. Additionally, all students entering the program are required to have completed a Master's degree which included a thesis of original biological research.
Is the D.A. comparable to an Ed.D.?
No. While it is true that D.A. programs include a pedagogy component and invite continual reflection on teaching, they differ from the Ed.D. in the greater emphasis on the discipline to be taught and awareness of its interdisciplinary relationships.
Is a D.A. degree appropriate for teaching in two-year as well as four year colleges?
Yes. The degree is highly individualized, and the manner in which you fulfill the degree requirements can be tailored to your career goals. D.A.'s currently hold positions at both types of institutions.
How long will it take to earn my D.A. degree?
This, of course, depends on individual academic preparation, experience, and effort. Exceptionally able and motivated students with fellowship support may complete requirements in as little as two to three years of full-time study beyond the Masters degree level, though three to four years is more typical. Intermittent residence will, of course, lengthen the time needed to complete degree requirements.
Is financial assistance available?
Yes. The department is currently allotted 8 D.A. fellowships. These are awarded on competitive basis, and are renewed dependent on satisfactory progress in the degree program. Students granted these fellowships receive a yearly stipend of $12,164, renewed for up to four years, in addition to being granted tuition and graduate fee waivers. These fellowships require no teaching and allow students to pursue study full time. Should candidates wish to broaden their teaching experience beyond the required internship, they may negotiate to teach one course each semester for additional compensation. Students offered a position without support are also eligible to teach for compensation. They may also compete for fellowship support should a fellowship be vacated.

Back to top

Requirements for admission

All candidates for the program must have at least a 3.0 GPA for the last two years of undergraduate work, scores in the 35th percentile or higher on the verbal and quantitative sections of a Graduate Record Exam (GRE) that is no more than 5 years old, a score for the GRE subject area test in Biology (required) and is expected to have completed a Master's degree prior to entrance into the program. If a student enters the program without having completed the Master's level research paper in biology or a related science she/he must complete this requirement in addition to the D.A. degree requirements.

Back to top

Contact information

Dr. Rosemary Smith is currently coordinating the D.A. program in Biology.

Back to top

Current DA Students

Back to top

DA students from past 10 years, with current positions

Idaho State University Graduate Studies

Back to top


  • Idaho State University • 921 South 8th Avenue • Pocatello, Idaho, USA 83209
  • About ISU
  • Contact ISU