Program Curriculum

Formal Courses

In accordance with The Graduate School, students must complete a total of 18 graded credits prior to taking the General Exam. Three courses (1 lecture course and 2 seminar courses) are required of all students, for a total of 6 credits. The remaining credits can be fulfilled by elective courses covering a wide range of topics, including molecular and cellular biology, molecular structure and design, chemistry, and molecular biophysics. See Courses for more details.

The Biomedical Research Integrity (BRI) Series is a sequence of lectures and workshops offered during Summer Quarter each year. Topics in past series have included mentoring, conflict of interest, authorship, conflict resolution, intellectual property, and digital imaging and publication ethics, to name a few. Students are required to attend one such series of lectures and at least one of the related workshops, either in their first or second year. BRI Website


To gain practical teaching experience, BMSD students will serve as Teaching Assistants for 2 quarters. Teaching is usually in the department of the supervisor, but other suitable assignments are appropriate and allowed. Non-conventional teaching experiences such as course development or outreach teaching are permissible upon petition to the BMSD Steering Committee.


Research Rotations: Students will rotate through three BMSD laboratories during their first year. The opportunity exists, with support from the rotation supervisors grant funds, for students to do an early rotation during Summer quarter. Also, should a student join a lab after only two rotations, the supervisor then assumes the financial responsibility for the student at the beginning of Spring, rather than the beginning of Summer Quarter. Lab rotations are intended to give each student a broad experimental experience, as well as to facilitate in choosing a lab in which to pursue thesis research. All research rotations require the consent of the rotation supervisor.

Thesis research: It is expected that each student will have chosen a thesis supervisor and obtained the consent for placement in that laboratory by the end of the Spring Quarter of their first year.

General Exam

BMSD students must take the General Exam during their third year. Students will follow BMSD guidelines concerning the makeup of the General Exam Committee and the format of the written and oral components of the exam. For more information, see General Exam.

Role of Steering Committee

All required aspects of the BMSD Curriculum (Formal Courses, Teaching or Research) can be waived or altered with the approval of the Steering Committee after consideration of a formal, written application prepared by the student or by the student and the selected thesis supervisor.

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