SAS Banner
SAS Mobile Banner

First Year

Incoming Program students will take the Molecular Biosciences curriculum for the first year. The basic curriculum may be modified on an individual basis for transfer students with advanced standing, who are following a "flexible curriculum" specified by a fellowship program, or who need remedial course work to remedy a deficient background. Such remedial courses will not count in fulfilling degree requirements.

First Year Courses

 The core curriculum spans the entire first year and is designed to expose students to the discovery of fundamental concepts in the molecular biosciences and to reflect the interdisciplinary manner in which major advances in biomedical sciences have been made. The curriculum will provide context for the integration of fundamental topics in molecular and cellular biology, genetics and biochemistry. Courses are designed to give students ample opportunity to delve into the primary literature, develop critical reasoning skills and the ability to identify and experimentally address open questions in molecular biosciences. For more details, click here.


Rotation Schedule:

Students are required to do three laboratory rotations as part of their graduate education: two rotations of 8 weeks each during the Fall semester, and a third during the first 8 weeks of the Spring semester. The laboratory in which the student's research is to be done should generally be chosen at the end of the third rotation. Thesis research will begin at this time.
A fourth rotation may be taken by students who have not found a permanent lab after the first three rotations.
Each rotation counts as 2 course credits towards the PhD, with a maximum of 6 credits allowed. The fourth rotation will not substitute for additional course credits.

Setting up Rotations:

It is the responsibility of the student to talk with faculty to arrange rotations, with the help of members of the Laboratory Rotation Committee. Selection of rotations must be reported to a member of the Lab Rotation Committee, and a lab Rotation Form completed. Generally the choice of the next rotation should be made about two weeks before the present one ends.

A student may not rotate in the same lab twice.

Rotation Reports Required:

A one page summary of the work done in each rotation is to be prepared, and copies submitted to the head of the laboratory in which the work was done, and to the office of the School of Graduate Studies. This summary should include the name of the lab, the dates of the rotation, the objectives of the work, the nature of the student's participation, and the results.

Selection of Research Advisor:

It is intended that a student will select a mentor for his/her thesis research during the course of the lab rotations in the first year. Full time research on the student's project should begin during the summer following completion of the first year, leading up to the propositional/oral exam sometime before the end of the second year.  If the student’s advisor is a member of PIB, the student can chose to enter the PIB program at the beginning of the second year.

Written Qualifying Exam

The Qualifying Examination has two parts with Part I offered at the end of the Molecular Biosciences Core Curriculum. It is a written examination based on a critical evaluation of a selected set of journal articles provided to the students two weeks before the exam. The aim is to test basic knowledge, comprehension of the papers, and experimental design. The questions can be specific as well as wide-ranging.

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