Genetics Curriculum

student working in the lab


Students in the Genetics Program complete required and elective didactic courses and participate in seminars and journal clubs that are designed to provide a strong knowledge base for their research and a deep understanding of genetics. They also complete four research rotations.  Students typically select their research mentor at the end of May of the first year and begin dissertation research.  They also take a qualifying examination in the first summer they are enrolled.  Thereafter, emphasis is placed on dissertation research. When the aims of the research project have been achieved, students write and defend their dissertations.

Course Work

Genetics students complete a series of required courses designed to provide broad and deep knowledge of genetics. Material includes basic genetic analysis, mammalian genetics and approaches to genetic analysis. Students also receive a strong grounding in biochemistry and scientific ethics.  Students also complete elective courses chosen from those offered by the GSBS with guidance in course selection from their advisor and thesis committee.

More information about the curriculum and specific courses can be found in the GSBS Catalog.

Qualifying Exam

All Genetics Program students complete a qualifying exam during the summer of the first year. PhD students must pass this examination to continue in the program.

The exam requires the preparation and defense of an original research proposal that is not related to future dissertation work or to prior research experiences. The exam is designed to measure originality and independence and requires that the student suggest a feasible research project on a biologically significant problem, outline a potential experimental approach to its solution, and discuss the likely data that could be obtained. An oral defense of this proposal is designed to probe the ability of the student to integrate and evaluate material learned in more abstract settings.

Preparation for the examination is directed by an examining committee that is selected based on each student's topic.

Seminar Courses

All Genetics students participate in seminars and journal clubs during their time in our program.