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Degree Requirements and Curriculum

Successful completion of the Ph.D. is fulfilled through coursework, a Ph.D. candidacy exam, laboratory research, and a written thesis with oral defense.

G&D Course Requirements

To be considered a full-time GSBS student, you must register for a minimum of nine credit hours for the Fall and Spring terms and six credit hours for the Summer term.

  • GS04 1203 Experimental Genetics (satisfies GSBS Systems Area Requirement)
  • GS04 1123 Molecular Biology of the Eukaryotic Cell (satisfies GSBS Molecular Area Requirement)
  • One Elective:
    • GS04 1223 Fundamental Mechanisms of Cancer Development
    • GS04 1073 Developmental Biology
  • One Quantitative Course (satisfies GSBS Quantitative Area Requirement):
    • GS01 1145 Introduction to Bioinformatics
    • GS03 1102 Current Methods in Molecular Research
  • GS21 1051 Biomedical Ethics
  • Topics in Genes & Development (2 semesters):
    • GS04 1801 Current Topics in Genes and Development (Fall term-writing and Spring term-oral presentation)

G&D Oral Presentation Requirement

Before graduation, Genes & Development students are required to deliver at least five oral presentations. These talks may be in seminar courses, journal clubs, departmental activities (e.g. retreat talks or bioinformatics workshop presentations), organism interest group meetings, and/or other venues. Rotation talks and regular lab group meetings do not fulfill this requirement. Some recommended seminar courses that can satisfy this requirement include:

  • GS04 1801 Current Topics in Genes and Development (Spring Semester Only)
  • GS04 1731 Seminar in Developmental Biology
  • GS11 1631 Current Topics in Human and Molecular Genetics
  • GS04 1721 Seminar in Tumor Suppressor Genes
  • GS04 1761 Current Topics in Oncogene Research
  • GS04 1771 Current Topics in Tumor Progression
  • GS04 1791 Topics in Programmed Cell Death
  • GS04 1812 Seminar in Molecular Mechanisms of Human Cancer

Other Optional Courses

Students may choose to supplement their coursework with additional classes based on their individual needs and interests. Suggestions include:

  • GS21 1061 Critical Thinking in Science
  • GS01 1062 Introduction to Bioinformatics
  • GS00 1620 Literature Survey
  • GS04 1013 Cell Biology
  • GS04 1782 Topics in Extracellular Matrix
  • GS11 1023 Molecular and Cellular Approaches to Human Genetics
  • GS12 1072 Developmental Anatomy

Suggested Course Timeline





Year 1

Experimental Genetics

Biomedical Ethics

ELECTIVE: Fundamental Mechanisms of Cancer Development
(elective can be taken in Year 2)

Molecular Biology of the Eucaryotic Cell

ELECTIVE: Developmental Biology


Year 2

Current Topics in G&D – Scientific Writing

Introduction to Bioinformatics
(or alternate course to fulfill GSBS Quantitative Area Requirement)

Current Topics in G&D – Oral Scientific PresentationsCritical Thinking in Science


Ph.D. Candidacy Exam

Students must write three one-page “off-topic” abstracts. One abstract will be chosen by the student’s advisory committee to write an NIH style original research proposal. This proposal is then presented and defended in an oral presentation. The candidacy exam is meant to be an evaluation of the student’s ability to construct a hypothesis, to design the means by which to test it, and to critically analyze obtained results.

Prior to taking the exam, all required coursework must be completed, and the advisory committee must recommend that the student is ready to take it. Students must petition for Ph.D. candidacy by the end of the second year following matriculation (i.e. the end of the summer of your second year). The oral exam must be scheduled no later than the end of the first term of the third year of study (i.e. the end of the fall semester of your third year). The deadlines for students who matriculate in the summer term are one term earlier respectively. Detailed exam information and resources are available via the following links:


Laboratory Research

In the first year of graduate studies, students typically complete three laboratory tutorial research experiences (GS00 1514 Tutorial Research Experience). The student then chooses a laboratory and forms an Advisory Committee composed of the student's advisor and four additional faculty members to direct the student in the first phase of their research (GS00 1520 Research in Biomedical Sciences) through the time of petitioning for candidacy. Students advance to Ph.D. candidacy after satisfactorily completing the candidacy exam by the end of the first semester of their third year. After advancing to candidacy, students concentrate on completing their dissertation research (GS00 1920 Dissertation for Doctor of Philosophy).

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