Typical Graduate Curriculum

Our core curriculum, elective coursework, teaching experiences, and presentation opportunities are designed to ground students in critical concepts and ideas, and give them tools to undertake independent research addressing critical biological questions. Upon completion of the Ph.D. our students are prepared for several possible scientific careers (see recent graduates page for where some of our students have gone).

A typical graduate program in Molecular Genetics:

Year 1:
Students take a coordinated set of courses designed to prepare them to ask and address fundamental scientific questions using a variety of techniques and model organisms. They also attend Departmental and interdepartmental seminars, and rotate in three labs before choosing one to do their thesis research.

Fall semester:

  • MG5700 (Systems of Genetic Analysis): Introduces students to a variety of tools and model systems used in the Department. Students learn how to address diverse questions in Molecular Biology and genetics using different model organisms.
  • MG5701 (DNA Transactions and Gene Regulation): Introduces students to recent topics in DNA replication, recombination and repair, as well as the regulation of gene expression.
  • MG7600 (First Year Student Orientation):  Meets once per week and addresses questions about how to pick a lab or project, issues of academic integrity and ethics and other critical topics for new students. It also provides a chance to meet and interact with first year graduate students from other biology graduate programs.

Spring Semester:

  • MG5705 (Advances in Cell Biology): Introduces students to current and cutting edge topics in cell biology.
  • MG5715 (Developmental Genetics):  Introduces students to topics in development.
  • Elective: Chosen from a list of approximately  20 courses offered by our Department and others.  Most electives are seminar style courses that cover a broad range of  topics (e.g., post-transcriptional gene expression,  plant biochemistry, virology, the RNA world).  Many students take a coordinated set of electives designed to deepen their exposure to a specific area of interest such as Development, Cell Biology, Plant Biology or Cancer Biology.

Year 2:
Students complete required coursework by taking an elective each semester, attend departmental and interdepartmental seminars, and begin work in their thesis lab. Students also complete their teaching requirement during year 2, typically by serving as teaching assistants in undergraduate courses.  In addition, students typically complete their candidacy exam by the end of the summer semester.

Year 3 to completion:
Students work towards their thesis, and continue to attend Departmental and interdepartmental seminars.  Students present their research in a Department-wide forum every year. The program culminates in a public seminar of the student's thesis work followed by the final oral defense with the thesis committee.