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Doctoral Program

Research Concentrations:
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Neuroscience

The Ph.D. degree is awarded on the basis of each individual student’s contribution to new scientific knowledge. Students will initially focus on course work to establish a solid foundation in experimental biology. This will be followed by independent, hands-on exploratory research in the laboratory of choice. Students will have ample opportunities to work alongside and collaborate with faculty members.

Who Should Apply?

Students who are eager to develop the necessary skills to conduct independent basic and biomedical research are encouraged to apply. Most of our graduates continue their careers as post-doctoral researchers in academic institutions while others directly enter the industrial workforce.

Program Highlights

  • Competitive stipend with tuition and student fees waived
  • Paid health insurance
  • Low student-to-faculty ratio with personalized training
  • Two years of general and specialized Ph.D.-level course work
  • Intensive research in an area selected by the student and their faculty mentor
  • Research toward dissertation begins within the first year
  • Student training includes preparation and presentation of seminars
  • Each student’s progress is closely monitored by an advisory committee of five faculty

Curriculum Information

The academic program for Ph.D. students features a combination of core, skill, and focus courses that include:

  • Core Courses:
    • Graduate Biochemistry
    • Molecular Biology of the Cell
  • Skill Courses:
    • Experimental Design
    • Scientific Writing and Hypothesis-Driven Research
    • Critical Readings in Cell and Molecular Biology
    • Quantitative Methods
  • Focus Courses:
    • Fundamentals of Neuroscience (Fall 1st year)
    • Neuroanatomy or Cell Culture & Stem Cells (Fall 2nd year)
    • Neurophysiology or Biomolecular Interactions (Spring 1st or 2nd year) 
    • Graduate Genetics or Neuropharmacology & Behavior (Spring 1st or 2nd year)
  • Additional Required Courses:
    • Responsible Conduct in Research Training
    • Laboratory Rotations
    • Advanced Graduate Research
    • Thesis Research/Ph.D.

Research Training

Our faculty has a wide range of research interests including developmental biology, cancer, neuroscience and neurodegenerative diseases, immunology, mitochondrial biology, ribosomal biology, DNA replication and repair, regulation of gene expression, and stem cell biology.

Our research is conducted within a 74,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art Science Center integrated with a medical school campus. Facilities in the Science Center include a transgenic mouse core, next-generation sequencing, mass spectrometry, flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, etc.

Our Ph.D. student scientists learn while performing cutting-edge research on the following timeline:

  • Three laboratory rotations during the first year
  • Responsible Conduct in Research training
  • Thesis mentor selection upon completion of rotations
  • Approval of thesis project by student-selected faculty advisory committee at the end of the first year
  • Generation of preliminary data followed by qualifying exam at the end of the second year
  • Dissertation research with bi-annual written and oral progress reports to your advisory committee
  • Public defense of dissertation and graduation

Doctoral Graduate Student Outcomes

Doctoral Frequently Asked Questions

Q: On average, how many applications will the PhD program receive and how many seats are available?
A: We typically receive about 40-50 applications for 4-8 student positions in the doctoral program.

Q: Does the PhD program provide scholarships and are international students eligible?
A: Yes, the scholarship is the same for all students, as long as the student stays in good academic standing: A competitive stipend, waived tuition, paid health insurance and most student fees are paid.

Q: Can I work at another job while I'm in the PhD program?
A: International PhD students cannot work any other jobs while being on an F-1 Student Visa. However, American students can work another job but it is best to speak with your mentor about any job opportunities you may be seeking. More importantly, it may take you longer to complete your doctorate degree because you will not be putting 100% of your effort into your research.

Q: Once I have applied, how long does the application process take before a decision is made?

A: The application review period begins after December 15th with most decisions being made between January and April. We encourage students to continue to apply, even after the posted deadline. Applications will continue to be reviewed until all available slots are full with the idea that the earlier the student applies, the better the opportunity for them to be considered.

Additional Information

Don't forget to review our Admissions Requirements. You can browse this section for curriculum charts, course catalog and schedules.