Graduate Program:

The First Year

The first year of study begins by building a foundation of course work in genetics, cell biology and molecular biology while also providing specialized courses covering all aspects of developmental biology. Course work is complemented by lab rotations designed to expose trainees to the breadth of approaches represented in our program, and to help them choose the right lab for their dissertation project.

Graduate students in the Biological Sciences Division are required to take nine graded courses for the Ph.D. program.
DRSB students take:
1 course in genetics, cell biology and molecular biology
3 courses in developmental biology
1 elective, which may be a reading course approved by the curriculum committee
2 rotations (three are encouraged)

For courses in genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology click here.
For courses in developmental biology click here.

In addition to the course requirements, students are required to attend the “Introduction to Research” course (also referred to as "Allstars"), to learn about ongoing research and preview potential mentors. All first year students in the Biological Sciences Division are also required to attend a scientific ethics course.

Students undertake short research projects in at least two different laboratories before beginning their dissertation research. Three rotations are encouraged. Rotations can be performed at any time during the first academic year. Rotations generally coincide with the ten-week academic quarter, although it is possible in Summer to perform two rotations, each of 5-7 weeks.

In September, at the end of their first year in the program, students take the Preliminary Exam as a first step towards candidacy for their Ph.D. This is an oral exam with a committee of three faculty members, during which students present answers to questions given to them two weeks in advance.


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