Graduation Requirements

  • An original thesis: Research discoveries, a scholarly overview of the field, and the intellectual synthesis of your contributions, will be presented in the doctoral dissertation.
  • Coursework: Each program will recommend required, as well as elective courses, to provide a strong background in the chosen discipline.
  • Examinations: Every PhD program has a qualifying examination whose passage is essential for you to become a PhD 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.

Program Timeline

Year 1 Milestones
Program Begins Coursework
  • 8 Semester Courses
  • Rotations
  • Decision of Year 1: Selection of Thesis Advisor & Specific PhD programs (picking your lab)
Year 2 Milestones
Qualifying Exam
  • Program-specific Coursework
  • Research
Years 3-4 Milestones
You’re a Candidate! 
  • Research 
  • Publish Articles 
  • Apply for Fellowships
  • Plan your Career
Years 4+ Milestone
  • Get your PhD!