Academic Programs

Research in the Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering (BESE) Division is focused on the molecular and cellular mechanisms through which organisms sense, adapt and respond to the environment, and the development of innovative technologies. BIO-NEST: from bench to innovation, describes focal areas of basic and applied research in Biotechnology, Neuroscience, Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology, supported by cutting-edge Technologies.

At the more applied level, research projects in the Division and affiliated Research Centers aim to address global scientific challenges with respect to food and water availability, human impact on environmental systems, and how novel technologies can be utilized to characterize and monitor stress-induced changes in living organisms.

BESE offers programs in Bioscience, Environmental Science and Engineering, Marine Science and Plant Science. In all programs students are offered modules consisting of lectures, seminars, and laboratory classes, and are expected to conduct independent research. BESE boasts state-of-the-art facilities and resources, including some of the most advanced equipment in the world for genomics, proteomics, imaging/characterization, nanofabrication, and capability to explore global marine environments.

For the full Course List and Syllabi of our Academic Programs please click here


The Bioscience (B) program plays a key role in addressing many of the global challenges being addressed by KAUST, with a general emphasis on what we term Adaptive Biology, or the study of the mechanisms that allow organisms to adapt to their environment.

The Bioscience curriculum provides a strong introduction to the fundamentals of cellular mechanisms and biotechnologies. The program comprises two tracks: Cell and Molecular Biology and Biomolecular Engineering.

The Environmental Science and Engineering (EnSE) program focuses directly on many of KAUST’s research challenges. There is worldwide concern with the availability of clean water, and Environmental Engineering examines methods to purify and reuse water, as well as to reduce contamination of existing reserves. 

This program comprises three tracks: Water Quality, Chemistry, and Treatment; Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology; and Environmental Hydrology and Fluid Mechanics. Students entering the program enroll in a set of core courses and then take specialty courses in one of the three major tracks.

Marine Science

The Marine Science (MarS) program focuses on the specific environment of KAUST: the Red Sea, one of the most complex and diverse ecosystems in the world, making KAUST a marine science field lab. The Red Sea is not only economically important for fisheries and tourism, but crucial for coastal protection as well. It is an extremely fragile ecosystem endangered by human exploitation, pollution and climate change. 

The program includes one track Marine Biology and Conservation. There is an intentional focus on the local Red Sea system, both as a primary study system and as a system with which general concepts from other marine systems can be compared.

Plant Science

The Plant Sciences Program (PS) aims to develop an integrated understanding of how plants can grow under extreme environmental conditions. The program addresses the fundamental plant biology at the molecular and physiological level, as well as their interactions with other organisms and adaptation to unfavorable environmental conditions. 

The curriculum provides a strong introduction with courses on the fundamentals of plant molecular science. Students entering the program enroll in a set of core courses and then take elective courses from within the program or from other BESE programs.


The BESE Division offers KAUST students the opportunity to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in its program areas.

The Graduate Program Guide provides detailed information about degree requirements. It is available in each program's section on this website.