PhD Degrees

All first-year students participate in three lab rotations of their choosing. Lab rotations give students exposure to diverse research environments and help them select a mentor with whom to do their dissertation research.

To help students select their rotation labs, the college offers the Graduate Student Research Opportunities course during the first three weeks. In this course, representatives from each of the six biomedical sciences programs describe the research interests of their faculty members. A faculty advisor also helps students select their rotation labs.

All first-year students also participate in a core curriculum designed to provide a broad-based education in the basic biomedical sciences and to develop a sense of community and collegiality. The first-year core curriculum courses are:

  • Foundations of Molecular and Cellular Biology, covering fundamental and advanced topics in biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology
  • Principles of Biostatistics, introducing the basic principles of biostatistics for research in the biomedical sciences
  • Journal Club, where students practice analyzing papers and giving oral presentations.

Beginning in January, students take elective courses.

By the end of the spring semester, students begin focusing on research. They have until the end of the first year to select a mentor and become affiliated with their mentor's degree granting program.


First Year | Fall Semester

GS604 Graduate Student Research Opportunities: 0 credits
GS612 Biomedical Sciences Laboratory Rotations (1st rotation): 2 credits
GS616 Foundations of Molecular and Cellular Biology: 4 credits
GS892 Intro to the Presentation and Analysis of Scientific Literature: Journal Club: 1 credit
MPH602-002 Principles of Biostatistics:3 credits

First Year | Spring Semester

GS612 Biomedical Sciences Laboratory Rotations (2nd rotation): 2 credits
GS612 Biomedical Sciences Laboratory Rotations (3rd rotation): 2 credits
In addition, students take at least 5 additional credits of program course requirements and additional advanced electives.

General Timeline for Doctoral StudentsPDF Icon


See our Frequently Asked Questions regarding Research and Lab Rotations, etc.

By the start of the second year, most PhD students have begun work on the research project that will lead to their dissertation. During this year, students take Responsible Conduct of Scientific Research course, which examines the moral and philosophical issues confronting scientists, and continue to take electives based on their research interests as well as courses required by their program.

In Grant Writing, a popular course, students learn to write grant applications under the supervision of a professor.

Students pass a qualifying exam to become candidates for the doctoral degree. This exam is scheduled by the end of the second year.

General Timeline for Doctoral StudentsPDF Icon

See our Frequently Asked Questions regarding Research and Lab Rotations, etc.

The PhD program including research, didactic course work and successful defense of a dissertation is intended to be completed in approximately five years.

Within six months of passing the qualifying exam, students put together a dissertation advisory committee, comprised of three to six faculty members from different departments. The committee meets every six months to review the student's progress, make suggestions and provide direction.

After completing their research projects, students write a dissertation and defend it before a dissertation defense committee.

General Timeline for Doctoral StudentsPDF Icon

See our Frequently Asked Questions regarding Student Life, etc.

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