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About the Program

More than 50 faculty members with varied research interests contribute to the activities of the program.

The program is 'home' to first and second year students while they complete lab rotations and foundational courses; at the end of the first year, students choose a permanent thesis lab and advisor, and prepare for the Qualifying exam at the end of year 2. For a complete description of the program requirements, training goals and student support, please see the BGG Student Handbook


Academic Curriculum

Coursework is completed in the first two years of the program. The curriculum consists of courses that provide a comprehensive theoretical background in to genetics, genomics, cell biology and molecular biology. A wide spectrum of advanced elective courses chosen by the student and advisor to augment topics relevant to the individual's research.

Course Program


Examples of Electives
GEN 503/504: Genetics Seminar BIO 426: Developmental Biology
GEN 507: Advanced Genetics & Genomics GEN 506: Stem Cell Biology (alt. years with GEN 508)
IND 431: Foundations in Modern Biology I GEN 508: Genomics and Systems Biology (alt. years with GEN 506)
IND 432: Foundations in Modern Biology II IND 411: Methods in Structural Biology
IND 501: Ethics & Professional Integrity IND 419: Introduction to Quantitative Biology
  IND 443: Eukaryotic Gene Organization & Expression
  IND 447: Signal Transduction
  MBI 456: General Virology
  MBI 473: Immunology
  PTH 507: Cancer Biology


Rotations in the first year of study in three different laboratories introduce the student to the scientific thought and method. The candidates gain experience at the bench, attend research seminars, and practice their communication skills. Furthermore, they familiarize themselves with prospective advisors for their thesis project.

Qualifying Examination

A Qualifying Examination at the beginning of the third year of studies is a means of determining the potential of the student for independent thought, experimental acumen, comprehension of the general field, and potential for exploiting a relevant problem in a scientifically sound manner. The M.S. degree is awarded upon successful completion of this examination.

Teaching Assistantship

A one semester Teaching Assistantship is required. Students complete this requirement in their third or fourth year of study. In addition, students are expected to participate in Science Outreach activities.


At the end of the first year, students choose a permanent advisor and embark on a Ph.D. thesis research program. Students may choose any faculty member in the School of Medicine and Dentistry or a participating faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences as their research advisor. The Ph.D. is awarded based on development of an Independent Thesis Research Project as well as a written dissertation describing the rationale, methodology, results, conclusions and significance of the project.

See the Thesis Defense website for more information

Stipend Ph.D. Students

Doctoral students are provided a fellowship award, which includes an annual stipend, a full tuition scholarship and single coverage health insurance while they are enrolled, and making satisfactory progress toward the Ph.D. degree.

Students are strongly encouraged to apply for support from extramural agencies. Students who receive competitively funded extramural fellowships are eligible to receive an additional $2,000 per year in stipend support for the duration of the award.

A competitive stipend for 2024-2025 of $33,660 per year for 12 month programs or $28,050 per year for 10 month programs. Stipend amounts are reviewed annually and generally increased each year.

Doctoral students who meet the criteria of other sources of assistance may apply for additional aid through the Financial Aid Office.