Due to the broad nature of the research interests in the department and the diversity of backgrounds of our graduate students, formal course requirements are kept to a minimum and are completed in the first year. Students are encouraged to shape their own graduate education, as they choose the majority of their coursework and the scientific direction for their research. The courses available include those offered by other departments, both in the Medical School and elsewhere on campus. Electives may be chosen from a list of mini-courses whose topics reflect the current interests of faculty and students. Students are required to take at least 6 mini courses; 15 mini courses are currently offered with additional courses being added each quarter.
First-year students also complete three lab rotations, which assist in choosing a lab to complete their thesis research. During the second year students begin their thesis research, act as teaching assistants for two quarters, and take elective courses.
Students form a Supervisory Committee after they choose a lab to conduct their thesis research. This committee is generally formed during the second year of graduate studies and assists the student in identifying possible thesis topics and additional coursework if needed. Students hold annual meetings to discuss their progress and get feedback from their committee.
During the third year students take their general examination. The general exam consists of an oral presentation of the thesis proposal to members of the Supervisory Committee, followed by an oral examination. Success in this examination marks the beginning of the candidacy for the doctoral degree. Thereafter, students focus on their thesis research and take courses based on interest and relevance. The culmination of the program is the submission of a written doctoral thesis and the presentation of this work in a public lecture attended by members of the department and the University
For further information about our courses and requirements see Graduate Student Requirements.