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The Experimental Therapeutics Academic Program offers its students two tracks of study — an M.S. and a Ph.D. program. Courses central (and required) to each track are Ethical Dimensions of the Biomedical Sciences and Principles of Therapeutics.

M.S. Program Requirements

Candidates in the M.S. program must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours to include at least one program affiliated course and Thesis for Masters of Science. Additionally, students with a toxicology focus are required to take both Toxicology I and Toxicology II. Similarly, students with a focus on pharmacology, are required to take Medical Pharmacology I. Mechanisms in Cancer Therapeutics is required for those focusing on therapeutics.

Required Program Courses

Program Affiliated Courses

(select at least one course from the following list)

Ph.D. Program Requirements

Ph.D. candidates must fulfill a minimum of 54 credit hours comprising 12 credit hours of Tutorial Research Experience, four GSBS Area Requirement courses, at least two program affiliated courses and a minimum of one year for research to include both Research in Biomedical Sciences and Dissertation for Doctor of Philosophy.

Additionally, students with a toxicology focus are required to take both Toxicology I and Toxicology II. Similarly, students with a focus on pharmacology are required to take Medical Pharmacology I and Cell & Systems Physiology. Mechanisms in Cancer Therapeutics and either Computer Aided Drug Design or Translational Sciences is required for those focusing on experimental therapeutics. Students who plan to focus on translational research are required to take Mechanisms in Cancer Therapeutics and either Translational Sciences or Human Protocol Research. Please see below for further information regarding program requirements.

Required Program Courses

GSBS Area Requirement Courses

(Select four courses from this list – one course per section.)

Section 1 - Quantitative

Section 2 - Molecular

  • Fundamental Biological Principles of Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics (GS02 1014)
  • Molecular Biology of Eukaryotic Cells (GS04 1123)
  • Molecular Basis of Cell Signaling (GS13 1024)

Section3 - Cellular

Section 4 - Systems

Program Affiliated Courses

(Select at least two courses from the following list.)

Research Tutorials 

(12 credit hours – three tutorials at four credit hours each)

The tutorial experience helps students establish an area of research by introducing them to current research conducted by GSBS faculty. Each student works under a minimum of three different tutors during this phase of the curriculum with each research tutorial generally lasting 10 weeks. For three semesters, each student spends one-half of every day in research laboratories. Each student chooses his/her own tutorial laboratories – or may be offered a tutorial by an interested program faculty member willing to supervise the tutorial – and completes three during the first year. If a student has completed the M.S. degree with thesis, post-baccalaureate research experience equivalent to a tutorial rotation or a peer-reviewed publication, the student may petition the GSBS Academic Standards Committee to waive one of the required research tutorials. A student who waives one of the three required tutorials still must identify a mentor.

Research Requirements

A student typically completes three laboratory Tutorial Research Experience (GS00 1514) courses, of his/her own choosing, within the first year of study. Following these tutorials, 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.

Written Comprehensive Examinations

After the sixth semester of study in the Program, each student takes a written comprehensive examination that involves writing off-topic proposals. The candidate’s Examination Committee (consisting of no more than three members of the candidate’s Advisory Committee, plus new faculty) evaluates the proposals to determine acceptability of the student to proceed to the oral candidacy examination. Students may receive an unconditional pass or pass with conditions, ask for re-examination or may not pass at all.

Oral Ph.D. Candidacy Examination

Each GSBS student must petition to take the oral candidacy examination before the end of the second year after admission to the Program in Experimental Therapeutics. This examination is designed to establish the student’s preparation for investigations on a topic that is outside the area of Experimental Therapeutics and consists of an oral presentation of the student’s proposal and a defense of the proposed and related background courses. The candidate’s Examining Committee administers the examination and communicates the results to the Executive Committee of the Experimental Therapeutics Academic Program and the GSBS.

Teaching Experience

Students in the Experimental Therapeutics Academic Program have no formal teaching requirement. However, students may be selected to participate in the GSBS Teaching Assistant Program and assist with certain core courses. The experience will vary from course to course and may include formal classroom teaching. Additional opportunities for teaching may be obtained through arrangement with individual course instructors.


All program students must have a first authored, published or In Press manuscript prior to taking a Ph.D. qualifying examination (defense).

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center