Degree Requirements and Curriculum

All GSBS PhD students, regardless of program affiliation, begin their first year by taking the GSBS “core course” which is a comprehensive introduction to modern biomedical science, from molecular biology to cell biology to organ physiology.  This course bonds students to their peers and provides a solid factual and conceptual grounding for graduate school.

The G&D Program curriculum is designed to build on this core of fundamental knowledge, enhance critical thinking, and build the written and oral communications skills required to be a successful scientist. To encourage critical thinking, our courses are designed to emphasize fundamental principles of biological systems/regulation rather than the rote acquisition of facts. The courses are supplemented by three laboratory rotations in the first year, participation in research seminars, journal clubs and G&D annual retreats, and a dissertation research project. The rotations expose students to a variety of experimental approaches and laboratory environments and aid in selection of a PhD advisor. After satisfactorily completing a written and oral candidacy exam, students advance to candidacy and complete their dissertation research. Time to graduation is generally five to six years.

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.

If you have any questions about course requirements, please contact Dr. Michael Galko, G&D Program Director at

G&D course requirements for students who enter GSBS in Summer 2015 and thereafter:  Click HERE

G&D course requirements for students who entered GSBS in 2014   
•      GS04 1203 Experimental Genetics
•      GS01 1145 Introduction to Bioinformatics
•      GS04 1811 G&D Scientific Writing
•      GS04 1821 G&D Oral Scientific Presentations
•      One Elective: 
            o   GS04 1223 Fundamental Mechanisms of Cancer Development OR
            o   GS04 1073 Developmental Biology
•      GS21 1017 Foundations of Biomedical Research
•      GS21 1051 Ethical Dimensions of Biomedical Sciences


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, First Friday Student Seminars), organism interest group meetings, and/or other venues. The G&D Oral Presentations class counts as one of the five. Rotation talks and regular lab group meetings do not fulfill this requirement.


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).