Ph.D. Program

The minimum curriculum for Ph.D. students consists of six Graduate Core Courses, two additional Biology-approved Graduate Elective Courses, and participation in the Research and Scholarship Integrity Program. Three lab rotations, each ending with a required data talk, occur during the first year. These rotations allow students the opportunity to explore important questions in the department's existing areas of research and to identify a particular lab environment suitable for a student's thesis research. All First Year Ph.D. students are required to fulfill two semesters of a Teaching Assistantship. Full-time students are expected to participate in Data Club and to attend all department seminars during their time in the program.

Course Registration is subject to oversight and approval by the Graduate Program Director and the student's Ph.D. adviser (when applicable). Throughout their program students have access to graduate advisers as well as a series of advising committees, depending on where in their academic time-line they are.


Ph.D. Committees

There are several committees that advise and guide Ph.D. students through the Biology Graduate Program. While the committees have different names to reflect their different functions, there is usually a substantial continuum of faculty membership. The role of the committees in each year are described below.

Candidacy Examination Committee

During the second year, a Ph.D Candidacy Examination Committee made up of three faculty, two chosen by the Department, one by the student, administers the candidacy examination.

Thesis Advisory Committee

The Thesis Advisory Committee consists of three or more faculty members (the student's PI and at least two other faculty members) who advise each student during their third year in conducting her/his thesis research. The chair of the committee will be selected at the first meeting and is someone other than the student's direct PI. Students must have their first meeting before the end of the academic third year, as well as annual meetings until their defense.

Ph.D. Defense Committee

In years four and five, the Ph.D. Defense Committee is composed of five faculty, the Thesis Advisory Committee plus two more internal or external faculty members, before whom the Ph.D. candidate must defend her/his thesis in public and private sessions. The student's Thesis Adviser will serve as the Chair of the Committee. This committee needs to be submitted to the Dean’s Office via this form.