Curriculum and Requirements

Our PhD requires at least 72 hours of coursework, including hands-on laboratory research throughout the program and a culminating thesis. You are admitted to and spend your first year of study in our interdisciplinary PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences (PPBS).

First Year (PPBS)

Your first year emphasizes interdisciplinary study in the biomedical sciences as well as an opportunity to begin exploring genetics, genomics and bioinformatics. You will learn about a variety of fields, gaining a broad base of experience and knowledge.

You also will work in at least three labs, collaborating with renowned research scientists on cutting-edge research.

This combination of a structured, interdisciplinary curriculum and strong support for your individual interests prepares you to pursue your career goals, whether in academia, industry or government.

Required Courses

You may fulfill some requirements in the second semester of your first year.

Elective and Special Topic Courses

6 credits - at least two 500-600-level courses in science, math or computer science, chosen in consultation with your mentor.

You may also elect other GGB courses or 500-600-level courses in computer science, biostatistics, neuroscience, microbiology and biology, with permission from your adviser and the program.

Thesis Research

Our program is designed to prepare you for your PhD research work and for the continual learning process of a career in science. The process of developing into a productive research scientist occurs largely during the research for your dissertation.

By the end of your second semester, you will choose a research adviser or mentor who will guide you through the dissertation process.

During your third semester, you will work with your mentor to develop an original research proposal. This process provides an opportunity to apply and sharpen the skills you acquired throughout the first year of the program.

Your research culminates in a written thesis dissertation—an original contribution to the scientific literature.

You must then successfully defend your thesis orally before your Thesis Committee.

Presentation of Research

Our PhD candidates participate in various professional and career development experiences, including oral presentation of primary research in public settings.

We offer various forums, including Spring Research Day, Journal Club and GGB 607 Presentation Seminar, to assist you in acquiring critical presentation skills. You also may present your thesis research in a formal seminar.

Journal Club

As with your research proposal and dissertation research presentations, the Journal Club places a strong emphasis on learning and presenting the “why” of genetics, genomics and bioinformatics research and its broader significance.

Through this monthly forum, you will choose a recent, topical paper from the primary research literature, preferably in consultation with your adviser and the program. The subject may or may not be related to your own thesis research.

The broader theme of the paper you choose provides the context for your presentation and discussion. The specific subject of the paper therefore provides a paradigm for a broader question in biomedical science; you will learn to paint this broader picture and to teach an audience about it.