Graduate students in Molecular Biosciences take a core curriculum spanning the entire first year that exposes students to the discovery of fundamental concepts and reflects the interdisciplinary manner in which major advances in biomedical sciences have been made.
In the fall semester, Fundamentals of Molecular Biosciences covers foundational material that is coupled to a course emphasizing experimental methods. In the spring semester, students select six one-credit mini-courses that explore particular topics in depth and offer opportunities to analyze and discuss the literature, give oral or written presentations, engage in group projects and data analysis. Students conduct three 8 to 10-week laboratory rotations to select a thesis lab. Throughout the year, students are exposed to essential skills for communication, managing the literature, bioinformatics tools and establishing an individual development plan, and attend the weekly Graduate Student Research Seminar to become familiar with the research carried out by upper level students. In the spring semester first-year students take a course in the responsible conduct of research.
Following the first year, students in Molecular Biosciences programs have the flexibility to create an individualized curriculum tailored to match their research training needs. With input from their academic and thesis advisors, students select from a variety of one, two and three-credit courses to deepen and complement the knowledge needed to pursue their own thesis project. As one of their course requirements, and in alignment with NIH training goals, all students must take a course in biostatistics, which is done typically during the second year.
Toward the end of the second year, students present a written thesis proposal and are examined by a committee of three faculty. To facilitate their progress, students meet at least annually with a thesis advisory committee consisting of at least three program faculty, who help the advisor in guiding the student’s research project. Most students complete and defend their thesis within 5 to 6 years.