Plan of Study

Overview of the Program

The following summary pertains to most incoming Ph.D. students, regardless of the route through which they enter the program. Exceptions are occasionally made to reflect previous educational experiences (e.g., a prior M.S. degree). Note that combined M.D./Ph.D. students must meet all of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree; requirements for the M.D. degree are described on the MSTP website.

The First Year

Course work, rotations in at least three laboratories, and participation in seminars, journal clubs, and research meetings are the major activities of first year students. During the Fall term, most students take a core course in Cell and Molecular Biology (IBMS 453/455) that is offered jointly for all participating Biomedical Sciences Training Program departments. Laboratory rotations begin in early July and the choice of a thesis advisor is usually made by the end of December (see below for more details on Choosing an Advisor). During the Spring term, students take the Genetics core course, Advanced Eukaryotic Genetics (GENE 500/504). This core course is designed to acquaint students with fundamental principles and methodologies used in modern genetic research. The focus is on similarities and differences between different model organisms used in genetics research. During the Spring term and continuing into the Summer, students begin formulating a doctoral research proposal.

The Second Year and Beyond

During the second year, students participate in a Proposal Writing Workshop (GENE 511) and take other advanced elective courses. The academic background and interest of the student largely determines his/her course schedule. The remaining elective credits can be satisfied by choosing from the courses offered by departmental faculty or participating training faculty from other departments (see List of Courses below). At the end of the second academic year, students must pass an oral proposal defense in order to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. An outline of the typical course of study is shown below.