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Program Overview

Getting Started

A successful applicant for the Ph.D. Program in Translational Biomedical Science (TBS) receives a letter of acceptance from the Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs. The letter indicates the degree program to which the student has been admitted and the fellowship package offered.

In early summer, the incoming trainee will receive information from the Office for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs (GEPA) pertaining to the annual Graduate Student Orientation Program, which is generally held near the end of August. At Orientation, University policies and procedures are reviewed and detailed information is presented by the University Health Service (UHS), Miner Library, Graduate Student Society (GSS), URBEST, Center for Professional Development (CPD), etc. The Program Coordinator and current TBS trainees will guide new TBS trainees through registration and course selection. Trainees will complete two mandatory training modules: HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and Laboratory Safety Training (LST) within the myPath system. Periodic “refresher” training is required of graduate students for both HIPAA and LST. New trainees will also be required to complete CITI training if they have not done so in the past three years.

Course Requirements

The course requirements for the TBS PhD are designed to be relatively flexible due to the diverse interests of the in this program. It is anticipated that the trainees will develop core competencies and acquire knowledge from UR courses and formal faculty mentors, as well as from their TBS peers. A total of 96 credits must be earned to fulfill the PhD requirements, and 34-37 credit hours of core didactic training typically occurs during the first two years. 28 credits of core curriculum and PhD research are needed at the time of the Qualifying Examination in which a trainee officially qualifies for doctoral candidacy. Course requirements for both the TBS-General focus and TBS-IIMP focus are available below.

For Translational Biomedical Sciences, the core curriculum has been designed to provide fundamental and deep knowledge in the basic, translational, statistics, quantitative, and population science disciplines so that TBS trainees emerge from the training program with the skills to translate this knowledge in a team science environment for a productive research career. The first two years of training can be seen in the TBS Program of Study.

For the specified focus track in TBS, Infection and Immunity: From Molecules to Populations (IIMP), the core curriculum provides a fundamental and deep knowledge based in immunological and infectious disease sciences, in addition to the translational and population sciences, so that IIMP trainees emerge from the training program prepared for a productive academic career at the interface between laboratory and population science. The first two years of training can be seen in the IIMP Program of Study.

All descriptions of required and elective courses can be found in the University of Rochester Course Catalog.

After completion of the program of study, all TBS trainees will register for 16 credit hours each semester (PhD research credits and required student seminar series and journal clubs in the major discipline of study) until all requirements are successfully met for defense of the dissertation.

M.D./Ph.D. Combined Degree Program

Program requirements for the M.D./Ph.D. degrees reflect the fact that most students enter the Ph.D. program after completion of two years of the Medical Curriculum. The trainee can use 30 credit hours from the completion of the first two years of Medical School. The remainder of the coursework and elective credits will be completed in the first year and a half of the TBS program. Once the remaining coursework is completed, and with the approval of their committee, M.D./Ph.D. trainees may hold their Qualifying Examination to officially qualify for doctoral candidacy. As with all TBS students, a total of 96 credits must be earned to fulfill the Ph.D. requirements. M.D./Ph.D. students will not be allowed to reā€enter medical school until their thesis has been written and registered. For more detailed requirements, please see the M.D./Ph.D. Student Handbook. For transfer credits and coursework, please see the M.D./Ph.D. Program of Study and the M.D./Ph.D. Transfer Policy.


There is an extensive program of seminars within the School of Medicine and Dentistry to supplement classroom and laboratory teaching. The IND436 TBS Student Seminar is most pertinent for TBS trainees, and it is expected that all students will register for and attend the seminar unless there is a conflict with formally required classes. If this is the case, the student must discuss the conflict with the Program Director and Coordinator to determine if an alternative plan is necessary. The TBS Student Seminar is held on Wednesday, from 12:00-1:00 pm. In addition, very useful information can be gained from seminars held in departments across the University. It is typical for students to also attend the department-specific seminar where their primary mentor resides. This provides additional opportunities for improving presentation skills, while gaining relevant knowledge specific to their chosen field of study.


As part of their graduate training, all Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. trainees are encouraged to have some type of teaching, mentoring, or workshop-development experience. Examples include laboratory or class teaching experiences, semester-long volunteering at the Rochester Museum and Science Center, developing and leading a workshop, problem-based learning instructor, adjuncting at a Rochester college or university, etc. Teaching usually does not start until the second year, except for advanced students or students with previous teaching experience. In general, students are involved in assisting in one of the courses and/or seminars in their research advisor’s department.