Ph.D. Program

The curriculum for Ph.D. students consists of four required courses in the first year, and one required writing course in the second year.

First Year

FallContemporary Biological Questions and Critical Analysis
Experimental Methods and Design in Biology
Graduate Research Experience I
Graduate Research Experience II>
SpringContemporary Biological Questions and Critical Analysis
Molecular and Cellular Control Mechanisms
Graduate Research Experience III

Second Year

SpringBIOL6180 Scientific Proposal Writing

*Two approved graduate electives are required. Course Registration is subject to oversight and approval by the Graduate Program Director and the student's Ph.D. adviser (when applicable)

Graduate Research Experiences (lab 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. Each lab rotation ends with a Data Talk. First Year Ph.D. students are required to fulfill two semesters of a Teaching Assistantship. Graduate 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. This committee needs to be submitted to the Dean’s Office via the committee form.