Ph.D. Requirements


The theme in Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology offers a broad curriculum that can be tailored to meet the research and scientific interest of the student. The coursework and laboratory experiences are meant to prepare you for a career in biomedical sciences. Initially, all GBS students are enrolled in the core curriculum. The core curriculum is designed to introduce you to fundamental principals in biochemistry and metabolism, cell and molecular biology, and genetics. After completion of the GBS core course work, students will begin selecting modules from among the themes within the GBS and must complete a course in applied biostatistics and bioethics. A grade of B or higher is required in all GBS and CMDB courses. Students who fail a course (i.e., make less than a B average) must retake and pass the relevant course in the subsequent year. Students who fail more than two courses during the first year are subject to dismissal from the GBS program.

Concurrently with the first year course work, research rotations will be conducted in three different laboratories of your choosing. These rotations are meant for you to gain practical experience in a variety of the techniques and types of scientific questions being addressed in the different theme areas and to aid you in selecting a research focus and your thesis advisor. Toward the end of the first year, students choose their advisor and select a specific theme in the GBS with which that advisor is associated.

Once accepted into a theme, you will take additional course modules and journal clubs that teach critical assessment of scientific literature. Electives that are outside of your primary theme may also be taken. By the beginning of the third year, you must pass a qualifying examination (oral and written) to determine whether you have gained a sufficiently broad general knowledge to permit successful academic research. To help in this process, your second year will include a course in scientific writing and grantsmanship with a mock grant review session. After successful completion of your exam the proposal will be submitted to a funding agency (if applicable) for possible support.

The Ph.D. is awarded upon successful defense of your dissertation, which includes an oral presentation of original, creative scientific investigations and a written dissertation which is expected to include published manuscripts or manuscripts in preparation. The curriculum of each Ph.D. candidate usually requires five years of training and is individually tailored to the interests and needs of the student by the advisor and a graduate committee chosen by the student.

Because pursuit of the Ph.D. is a full-time activity, all graduate students are supported by monetary stipends and do not have any required teaching duties. The level of activity required does not permit outside jobs or excessive extracurricular activities. Continuous registration and satisfactory academic standing during all terms is required.

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