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Subsequent Year Curriculum

Students who join the CMP Graduate Program take a mandatory course entitled Principles of Drug Action and Targeting (3 credits), one of three introductory statistics courses offered on campus (3 credits), as well as four of the six seminar courses offered by the CMP Graduate Program (2 credits each). For a list of course offerings, please click here. Students may take additional relevant courses after consultation with their research advisors. Students participating in the specialized Concentration in Cancer Biology follow a slightly different path, as specified here.

Each student must pass the oral qualifying exam before the end of the second year. Every year thereafter, each student must meet with a research advisory committee to monitor progress toward the PhD degree.

All 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students in the CMP Graduate Program must present their research progress once a year in the Graduate Student Research Seminar (aka Progress Reports, 16:718:685, 0 credit). Students register for this course in the spring but the course meets weekly throughout the academic calendar year.

Numerous additional scientific seminars are presented across the Rutgers and RWJMS campuses.   Current Seminar Schedule

Oral Propositional Exam

The second part of the two-part qualifying exam is taken one year after the written qualifying exam. This exam is based on an oral defense of a written proposal, which is usually based on the student’s planned thesis work.

The process begins when the student provides an abstract of the proposed work to the CMP Graduate Program Director. The examination committee, selected by the Director in consultation with the student, will consist of four faculty members of the CMP Graduate Program, excluding the advisor. In certain circumstances, ad hoc members from outside the program will be permitted. The oral examination should take place within six weeks of forming the examination committee.

The oral exam is based upon a student's written proposal (about 10 pages) that shall take the form of a research grant application (Specific Aims, Background/Significance, Preliminary Results, Experimental Design). The student should consult his/her advisor in preparing proposal but the proposal must be written entirely by the student. While preliminary results are welcome they will neither be essential nor the focus of the exam. The committee and the student’s advisor must receive the proposal at least a week before the exam.

On the exam date, the student will present the written proposal orally. The committee will ask questions related directly or indirectly to the subject matter of the proposal. Students can expect questions on the logical reasoning behind the proposal, the scientific techniques employed, as well as general questions about the practices and principles of biological and pharmacological science.

The student’s performance will be evaluated on a pass/fail basis. A conditional pass may also be awarded. A pass on the exam admits the student to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. An Oral Proposition Candidacy form documenting this exam must be filed with the School of Graduate Studies office.

 Annual Committee Meeting

After passing the oral qualifying exam and becoming a PhD candidate, the student and Research Advisor assemble a Research Advisory Committee. The committee will consist of the Research Advisor, two additional faculty members of the CMP Graduate Program and one outside member from either another program, another university, or from outside academia. Members of the committee should possess expertise closely related to the thesis area.

The Research Advisory Committee meets with the student at least once a year to evaluate research progress towards the Ph.D. degree. An abstract should be presented to the committee in advance of the meeting. Ordinarily the student will describe his/her progress in the form of an oral presentation. It is common for students to combine their Research Advisory Committee meeting with the yearly presentation that he/she must make in the Progress Report seminar series. In this case, the committee meets with the student privately after the public presentation to serve an advisory role on future research and help determine when the requirements are satisfied for the Ph.D. degree. A Research Advisory Committee Meeting form documenting this meeting must be filed with the School of Graduate Studies office.


Contact Us

Division of Life Sciences Graduate Program Office
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Nelson Lab-604 Allison Rd
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Phone: 848.445.9517