Welcome From the Dean

John J. Flynn

It is my great pleasure to introduce you to the Richard Gilder Graduate School.

Many of you know the American Museum of Natural History from our outstanding exhibitions, cutting edge research, and worldwide expeditions, but a deep commitment to public education and academic training also has been an important part of the Museum’s mission since its founding almost 150 years ago.

The Richard Gilder Graduate School (RGGS), established in 2006, builds on that commitment by offering the first Ph.D. degree-granting program for any museum in the Western Hemisphere, providing students with a rigorous, focused, and interdisciplinary learning environment unlike any other in the nation. Building on a successful pilot program for innovative training of K-12 educators, in 2015 the Museum was authorized to grant Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degrees, also the first such degree program in any Museum. As you navigate our web pages, you will see that RGGS serves as the umbrella for the Museum’s university-level programs, including collaborative doctoral degree programs with partner universities, Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) summer internships, postdoctoral fellowships, and a series of grants programs, in addition to our own Ph.D. and MAT degree programs.

Comparative Biology Ph.D. Program: Even though recent advances in genetics and environmental science have made the interconnectedness of different life forms more apparent than ever, most biology research still focuses on a single species, cell type, or molecular system. At the Richard Gilder Graduate School, we believe that many important scientific questions only can be fully addressed with a comparative approach focusing on interactions among species, within and between biotas, and across time and space.

We constructed and continue to enhance the curriculum to address those important questions, and the unparalleled resources of the American Museum of Natural History allow our students to answer them. By exploring our world-renowned collections, studying with our distinguished faculty, undertaking research in our leading library and laboratories, and participating in globe-spanning expeditions, students at the Gilder School acquire the skills needed to tackle biology’s most vexing problems. In addition to scientific classes, students also get a chance to participate in the Museum’s public education mission through unique training opportunities in exhibitions and K-12 education.

The exceptional support provided for the Richard Gilder Graduate School, from graduate fellowships to a renovated home for the school within our landmark buildings, enables us to serve a talented, diverse, and forward-thinking student body from around the world. These select students, including 15 graduates since the first class arrived in 2008, publish extensively and are highly successful in garnering grants, fellowships, and student awards. Graduates of the Ph.D. program in Comparative Biology leave the school prepared to assume positions as leaders in academia, government, and the private sector. If you have drive, focus, and a passion for biology, then the Richard Gilder Graduate School may be the right Ph.D. program for you.

Please explore this website for details on the entire range of the American Museum’s postsecondary educational opportunities, and feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you have additional questions.

Most sincerely, 


John J. Flynn
Dean, Richard Gilder Graduate School