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For graduate school admissions

Visit the Office of Graduate Education for info on our many doctoral programs and the graduate education application process at the School of Medicine.

For medical school admissions

Visit the Office of Admission for info on application process, financial aid, and student life.

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During the first year, you will embark on lab rotations with research faculty, participate in coursework with your peers and then select the biomedical PhD program that fits you best. The program begins in July, and you're encouraged to arrive as early as possible so you can complete a research rotation before classes begin.

Research rotations: You'll complete at least three rotations, learning new technique and getting to know the faculty. While you're doing rotations, you'll do everything a student in the lab would do, including attending journal clubs, research seminars and lab meetings. This allows you to evaluate the research and environment that best suits your interests. You’ll have an academic advisor who will help you set up rotations.

Coursework: Most students take our course in cell and molecular biology (CBIO 453 & 455).  This course offers an introduction to modern cell and molecular biology; it provides a strong foundation for research in all of the PhD programs of the BSTP. Students with Masters degrees can place out of this course and take more advanced offerings. Students with strong quantitative skills in physics or math but limited biology exposure may be guided instead to Cell Physiology courses (including PHOL 432, PHOL 456).

Choosing your thesis lab: In the middle of the first year you’ll choose your  thesis advisors and join one of our 11 PhD programs. Your research interests are the primary factor in this choice.


Once you select your advisor, you become a member of a PhD Program and fulfill the specific requirements of that program. All PhD programs have common requirements:

An original thesis: Your research discoveries, as well as a scholarly overview of the field and the intellectual synthesis of your contributions, will be presented in your doctoral dissertation.

Coursework: Each program will recommend required, as well as elective courses, to provide you with a strong background and current knowledge in your chosen discipline.

Examinations: Every Ph.D. program has a qualifying examination whose passage is essential for you to become a Ph.D. candidate. Most programs ask that you prepare a research proposal in the format of a grant application and defend the proposal to a faculty committee. Some programs also require a written comprehensive exam after the first year.

Publications in scientific journals as first author: CWRU biomedical PhD programs require you to publish scientific articles as first author as part of your graduate work so that you learn to describe and communicate your research discoveries to others.

Seminars and journal clubs: Every PhD program requires that students attend seminars with visiting experts in that discipline, as well as journal clubs in which current advances are discussed. Most programs ask that students make at least one journal club-type presentation each year to develop analytic and speaking skills.

Retreats and other program activities: Most programs have specialized retreats, workshops, student-invited speakers, holiday parties, etc. that complete your education in a particular field.