Genetics, Molecular & Cellular Biology Curriculum

Students in the Genetics, Molecular & Cellular Biology program (GMCB) will complete required and elective didactic courses and participate in seminars and journal clubs designed to provide a strong knowledge base for their research and a deep understanding of science.

GMCB students will complete three research rotations in Year 1. Typically, they will select their research mentor and begin their dissertation research in May of their first year.

GMCB students take a Qualifying Examination during their second year. After passing the qualifying exam, emphasis will be placed on their dissertation research. When the aims of their proposed research project have been achieved, students will write and defend their PhD dissertation.

Year 1

All students will take courses in the following topics:

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics
  • Scientific Ethics
  • Gene Expression & Signal Transduction
  • Essentials in Biomedical Statistics & Computational Biology

Boston-based students will also take Introduction to Developmental Biology, and JAX students will take Mammalian Genetics. GMCB students will participate in three lab rotations, and a first-year student Journal Club that will align with first-year coursework.

Year 2 and Beyond

Students will take Scientific Grant Writing, as well as an Advanced Topics Course consisting of modular topics and guided reading of the literature.

Students may enroll in elective courses beginning in the fall of their second year and are required to complete a minimum of two elective credits by the end of their third year.

JAX students are required to take Introduction to Bioinformatics using RNA Sequencing, which will count toward their elective requirement. Mammalian Genetics and Introduction to Developmental Biology may be taken as electives if these courses were not taken as part of the first-year required courses.

Electives may include any course offered by any of the GSBS Programs, other Tufts courses, or other Boston area schools, with approval by the Tufts GMCB Program Director. In addition to Advanced Topics, Research Presentations and Seminars, students will conduct their thesis research. GMCB students will conduct their On-Topic Qualifying Exam in the second semester of Year 2.

Qualifying Exam

All GMCB students will complete a Qualifying Exam before the end of the spring semester of Year 2. PhD candidates must pass this examination in order to continue in the GMCB Program. The Qualifying Exam requires the preparation, presentation and defense of an original research proposal, which may be on-topic to their thesis work.

The Qualifying Exam is designed to measure the student’s ability to identify and conduct in-depth literature synthesis on relevant research questions, and to design and defend detailed experimental approaches to address these questions. An oral defense of this proposal is designed to probe the ability of the student to integrate and evaluate the proposed material and experimental approaches.

The Qualifying Examination will be conducted by an Examining Committee that is selected based on each student's topic. The Qualifying Exam Committee will consist of at least two Tufts GMCB Program Faculty and one faculty member outside the GMCB Program. The Thesis Advisor may attend the Qualifying Exam defense, but does not participate in the preparation, presentation or defense.