"What personal qualities are necessary for scientific research? Of course, you should have a thorough introduction to the basic sciences obtained at undergraduate level. Equally important, however, you need a strong sense of intellectual curiosity. You must like to figure out how and why things work. A fascination with ideas is essential: one must think creatively about questions, and at times, consider conflicting answers without becoming discouraged."

GGS PhD Theme Overview


The Genetics and Genomic Sciences training program offers an intensive graduate training experience that will lead to the Ph.D. in four to six years. Click here to see our GGS PhD Theme Training Plan.


Year 1


In the first year, your time will be devoted to course work and exploration of research opportunities. In the first semester you will take a course to refresh your basic knowledge in the fundamentals of biochemistry, and molecular and cell biology. The second semester will be focused entirely on modern concepts of genetics.

You will also perform three rotations to gain practical experience and to become familiar with the research activities of several laboratories. By the summer between the first and the second year, you will select a mentor and a laboratory in which to do your thesis research project.

In the first and subsequent years, you will attend the weekly genetics seminar series in which faculty from outside universities, national laboratories, or UAB will discuss their research. Each semester you will also participate in the GGS journal club. Here you will present for discussion published articles covering the latest research in genetics and genomic sciences. Participants review and critique these articles, thus developing their communication skills.


Year 2

After the first year, a student chooses a thesis advisor and undertakes an original research project under the faculty member's direct guidance. Throughout the period of research, additional guidance is provided by a faculty graduate advisory committee consisting of five to six members, chosen jointly by the student, the advisor, and the director of graduate studies. The committee is assembled for each student, taking into account the student's background and interests.

During the second year, you will also take specialized courses that will aid in your thesis research. At the end of this year, you will attend a course designed to teach you how to write a successful grant proposal. This will prepare you for your qualifying examination which consists of a written proposal and its oral defense. Upon successful completion of the qualifying exam and the necessary advanced coursework, you are accepted to candidacy for the Ph.D.


Year 3 and Beyond

Your major focus after completing the qualifying exam will be your thesis research. In addition to pursuing your research objectives in the laboratory, you will complete your advanced course electives, attend local scientific retreats, national and international meetings in specialized areas of interest, and participate in seminars.

The Ph.D. is awarded upon successful defense of your dissertation, including an oral presentation of your original scientific investigations and a written dissertation which demonstrates your ability to carry out creative and significant research.