PhD Core Curriculum

The first two years of study include the core curriculum listed below.

  • Lab Rotations: In conjunction with course work in the first year, students rotate in 6 week blocks through three of the Program’s participating research laboratories of the student’s choice. This allows students to become more familiar with BMS research and faculty. For more information, see Rules Governing Laboratory Rotations and Grading Criteria.
  • Dissertation Advisor and Departmental Track: Students should choose a Dissertation Advisor by the end of the second semester, but must choose one by the end of the third semester. Students may choose to further specify their study by choosing an Area of Research Emphasis (a Departmental Track). Choosing a mentor within an area of research emphasis may add further requirements above and beyond the requirements set out by the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.

First Year (27 credit hours)

FALL SEMESTER – 13 credits:

  • Advanced Cell Biology (BMSP-6070) – 3 credits
  • Biochemistry (GBCH-601) – 4 credits
  • Seminar (BMSP-7150) – 1 credit
  • Research Methods (BMSP-7120) – 4 credits (2 credits for seminar, 2 for first rotation)
  • Workshop (BMSP 7100) – 1 credit

SPRING SEMESTER – 14 credits:

  • Biostatistics (GBCH-7250) – 2 credits
  • Human Molecular Genetics (EPID 8810) – 3 credits
  • Systems Biology (BMSP-7770) – 3 credits
  • Seminar (BMSP- 7150) – 1 credit
  • Research Methods (BMSP- 7130) – 4 credits (2 each for 2nd and 3rd rotations)
  • Workshop (BMSP 7110) – 1 credit

Ideally, the student should choose a dissertation advisor at the end of the Spring semester


  • Student MUST register for BMSP 9990 every summer to maintain full-time status. Failure to do so WILL RESULT IN A SUBSTANTIAL FINE- NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • All students are expected to either begin their dissertation research or perform more research rotations during the Summer.

Second Year

(Total for Fall + Spring must equal at least 21 credit hours)


  • Seminar (BMSP- 7150) – 1 credit
  • Workshop (BMSP-7100) – 1 credit
  • Independent Study (BMSP 7990) – 1-6 credit hours
  • Electives (to be chosen in consultation with dissertation advisor)

Total must be > 9 credit hours


  • Seminar (BMSP-7150) – 1 credit
  • Workshop (option of either BMSP- 7110) or another mentor focused workshop course) – 1 credit
  • Independent Study (BMSP-7990) – 1-6 credit hours
  • Responsible Conduct of Research (MIIM 7400) – 2 credit hours
  • Electives (to be chosen in consultation with dissertation advisor)

Total must be > 9 credit hours

Coursework in the 2nd year must include at least 6 credit hours of lecture-based course work (Electives) and 11 credit hours of Independent Study (Research). All students must register for 9 credit hours each semester to maintain full-time status, tuition scholarship and fellowship awards.


  • A minimum of 48 credit hours of coursework and independent study is required.
    • Where necessary, a department may require additional hours of coursework.
  • All formal course work is to be completed within the first two years.
  • Students may take Independent Study (BMSP-7990 or equivalent) for 1-6 credits per semester for a maximum of 12 credits total during the first two years.
    • The remaining hours of coursework are selected from the elective curriculum by the student in consultation with the dissertation advisor.
  • Students wishing any deviation from the core curriculum must submit their request in writing to the BMS Steering Committee for approval.
  • Students ordinarily must complete the requirements for the Ph.D. degree within seven years from the date of matriculation in the program.
    • Only in unusual cases, with the approval of the department chair and Assistant Dean, will credit be approved for courses taken more than six years before first registration for graduate work.

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