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Ph.D. Requirements

The Cancer Biology Program conforms to the general GSBS requirements requiring 54 credit hours minimum to include one credit hour of the Ethical Dimensions of the Biomedical Sciences (GS210051), three Tutorial Research Experiences (GS000514), four required GSBS area requirement courses, and a minimum of one year of registration for research which includes Research in Biomedical Sciences (GS000520) and Dissertation for Doctor of Philosophy (GS000920).

GSBS Required Basic Courses


(Choose 1)

  • GS01 1143 Introduction to Bioinformatics

  • GS03 1102 Current Methods in Molecular Research (2 semesters) [plans to change to a one-semester course taught in the spring term]


  • GS04 1123 Molecular Biology of Eukaryotic Cells


(Choose 1)

  • GS04 1133 Cancer Cell Signaling (Recommended)

  • GS04 1013 Cell Biology

  • or
  • GS04 1093 The Biology of Cancer Metastasis

  • or

  • GS06 1014 Immunology I


(Choose 1)

  • GS04 1063 Cancer Biology

  • GS04 1083 Basic Concepts of Tumor Biology (UT-Science Park, Smithville, TX)

Alternative Courses

In the event that students can demonstrate previous undergraduate academic experience in one or more of the areas, they may petition to substitute one of the following alternative courses to satisfy an area requirement.


  • GS04 1113 Molecular Biology of Cancer


  • GS11 1023 Molecular and Cellular Approaches to Human Genetics
  • GS12 1063 Histology
  • GS12 1134 Introduction to Histology (UT-Science Park, Smithville, TX)
  • GS14 1143 Cellular Neurophysiology

Seminar & Elective Courses

Six (6) credit hours required. Students can take 1 course multiple times with the cumulative time counting towards the 6 hour requirement.

  • GS04 1213 Mechanisms in Cancer Therapeutics
  • GS04 1721 Seminar in Tumor Suppressor Genes
  • GS04 1751 Seminar in Cell Signaling and Regulation
  • GS04 1761 Current Topics in Oncogene Research
  • GS04 1771 Current Topics in Tumor Progression
  • GS04 1811 G&D Scientific Writing [new title] – formerly Current Topics in Genes and Development
  • GS04 1812 Seminars in Molecular Mechanisms of Human Cancer
  • GS04 1821 G&D Oral Scientific Presentations [new title – used to be 2nd semester of Current Topics in Genes and Development]
  • GS21 1611 Topics in Molecular Medicine (MD/PhD students only)

Research Requirements

Students typically complete three laboratory tutorial research experiences (GS00 1514) their first year of study. The choice of tutorial laboratories is determined by each student. Following these, a student chooses a laboratory in which to undertake thesis research. During this time, an Advisory Committee composed of the student's advisor and four additional faculty members will assist the student in directing his or her research.

Candidacy Examination

All GSBS students must petition to take the oral candidacy examination within two years of admission to the Ph.D. degree program. This examination is designed to ascertain both the student's preparation for investigation of a specific research problem, and the extent of knowledge in pertinent and related areas of biomedical science. It is administered by the student's Candidacy Examination Committee, and the results of this examination are communicated to both the Executive Committee of the Cancer Biology Program and the GSBS.

Teaching Experience

There is no formal teaching requirement for students in the Cancer Biology Program. Recently, the GSBS has initiated a Teaching Assistant Program where students are selected to assist in certain core courses. The teaching experience will vary from course to course, but it can include formal classroom teaching. Additional opportunities for teaching may be obtained through arrangement with individual course instructors.

Note: Area courses that are no longer taught:

  • Biomedical Statistics (Quantitative area)
  • Metabolic Biochemistry (Molecular area)

© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center