Education and Training: PhD in Biomedical Science Programs

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Doctoral training in biomedical sciences has many facets, including coursework, laboratory rotations, and dissertation research. Candidates select a thesis mentor and advisor and have opportunities to present their research.

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Your doctoral training in biomedical sciences has many facets, including coursework, laboratory rotations, and dissertation research. You will have to select a thesis mentor and advisor and have opportunities to present your research.

Along the way, you'll gain professional development skills that are essential as you proceed through your career. Here, you can learn about funding mechanisms and see the timeline for some milestones in the life of a graduate student.

Getting Started

Coursework for Prospective PhD Candidates
You can expect one to two years of coursework when you begin your graduate studies. This will likely consist of some core coursework and some elective courses, based on your area of your scientific interest. There may be additional specialized courses.

Laboratory Rotations
Laboratory rotations allow you to spend time in and experience different laboratory settings, and research projects. The number and requirement for laboratory rotations will vary from school to school as will the length of the rotations. Laboratory rotations are often concurrent with coursework, which means it is important to work on time management skills. 

Selecting Your Mentor
Pre-doctoral training entails both formal education in a specific discipline and an apprenticeship in which the graduate student trains under the supervision of one or more faculty members.

Funding Your Graduate Education
Doctoral programs in the biomedical sciences generally provide: a stipend that covers your living expenses; tuition and fees fellowship opportunities; health insurance, and; support to attend scientific meetings.

During Your Training

Dissertation Research
Your thesis project should be designed to contribute new knowledge to the field. It is important to begin discussing your thesis/dissertation research direction with your mentor as early as possible. Here, "mentor" refers to your primary research advisor or dissertation sponsor, and "advisor" refers to the additional faculty members who make up your thesis/dissertation committee. (see alsoSelecting Your Mentor)
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Professional Development
Biomedical sciences Ph.D. programs are designed to train the future biomedical research workforce. Dissertation research during graduate studies is an opportunity to contribute new knowledge to the field and to make exciting new discoveries, while preparing you for an independent career.
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Presenting Your Research
Working toward a Ph.D. in the biomedical sciences provides training for your future as a scientist. In addition to developing research skills, you will learn to communicate your science to others, both orally and in writing. Most graduate programs provide guidance about how to present a seminar and write a research paper. 
More About Presenting Your Research


There are several milestones during your graduate education that must be met at varous stages of your research training, as indicated by the asterisks in the illustration. These include specific requirements for advancement to the second year of graduate study, a qualifying exam for admission to Ph.D. degree candidacy after about two years, a "pre-defense" meeting as you approach graduation, and a final defense of your Ph.D. research.
More About Milestones

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Tools for PhD Applicants

Helpful tools for those applying to medical PhD programs.

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Prospective PhD Applicants

Upcoming short presentations will describe features of PhD training, alumni careers, and detailed logistics of the application process.

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Getting into a PhD Program in the Biosciences

Learn about PhD Programs from program leaders.

Financing Your Graduate Education

Graduate schools in the biomedical sciences will generally provide a comprehensive funding package to their students.

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PhD Programs by School

PhD Programs by School

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Postdoctoral Programs by School

List of Postdoctoral Programs by School

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Postbaccalaureate Programs

Postbaccalaureate programs begin after an undergraduate degree and are designed to support the transition to professional school.

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