The PhD degree is a research degree conferred in recognition of proficiency in research, breadth and soundness of scholarship and a thorough acquaintance with a specific field of knowledge as determined by the faculty. To attain these goals, the curriculum includes the following:
- Graduate College ?core curriculum? courses (GCC courses) provide a common knowledge base in molecular and cell biology for most graduate students in all divisions.
- A core of required biochemistry courses (BCH courses), which provide the basis for the students to pursue their own, specialized biochemistry research programs.
- A variety of elective courses, which provide the students with the flexibility to tailor their course work to their research interests or needs.
- Initiation of research as soon as possible following completion of the Preliminary Examination at the end of the student's first academic year.
During the first year, the student will complete all required biochemistry and graduate core curriculum courses. By the end of the second year, the elective course requirements should be completed. By the end of the spring quarter of their first academic year, before they become doctoral candidates, the students are encouraged to submit three names of potential advisors in order of preference in writing to the Director of Graduate Education, who will present the names to the Chair of the Division for presentation to and final approval by the Graduate Program Committee.
At the end of the summer quarter of the student's first academic year (usually at the beginning of September; the academic year begins with the fall quarter), the student sits for the Preliminary Examination, which is a combination of a written examination, take-home examination and oral examination. By the end of his/her second academic year (i.e., before the fall quarter of the student's third academic year begins) the student is required to submit and defend a written dissertation proposal before the student's Dissertation Advisory Committee. Following this, the successful student continues his/her research work, as approved by the Dissertation Advisory Committee.
When the student's advisor and his/her Dissertation Advisory Committee agree that the student has completed his/her task, which is evaluated at an announced "Permission to Write Meeting," he/she writes a dissertation, which is defended in a public seminar and in a separate executive session with the student's Dissertation Examination Committee. Another requirement is that one or more manuscripts, based on the student's dissertation work, be published, accepted, or submitted for publication in a full-length peer-reviewed journal, with the student listed as first author. To participate in the June commencement ceremony, all requirements for the PhD degree must be met by mid-May.