The Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program
The course of study leading to the Ph.D. degree usually requires five years to complete. Each student devotes the full 12 month year to the pursuit of graduate work, with time for holidays and vacation. Students begin lab research training as soon as they enter the program, though a significant amount of time in the first two years is devoted to learning basic concepts through formal course work.
All students take a core of basic courses in pharmacology, toxicology, biochemistry, and molecular biology. If a student has successfully completed an equivalent course at another university, it need not be repeated. In addition to the requirements, students may choose courses based on their own research interests or courses designed to provide specific research skills. Representative areas for such training are computer applications in the biomedical sciences, biostatistics, microscopy techniques, tissue culture methods, molecular biology methods, or molecular modeling procedures.
One component of our training program that students appreciate most is the opportunity to learn the art of presenting lectures in undergraduate classes and formal seminars describing their research projects. Careful mentoring and chances to practice using very practical presentation strategies lead to the development of excellent communication skills and self confidence in our graduates.
The most important part of graduate training is learning how to ask good research questions, design and carry out experiments to answer those questions, and write up the results of the experimental work in a clear and concise manner. For this reason, students begin their lab work as soon as they arrive. Shortly thereafter, each student selects a thesis research project with the advisor's assistance. Once the course work and exams are completed, students devote full time to their research projects and the preparation of papers describing their work.
A list of specific requirements for the Ph.D. taken from the department's Graduate Student Handbook.