BCMB: Cell & Developmental BiologyProgram Requirements
PhD students are admitted to the Cell & Developmental Biology (CDB) program through the BCMB Allied program. Applicants must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Aptitude (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical) Test. The program encourages - but does not require - applicants to take the GRE Advanced Test in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or cell and molecular biology. Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL examination.
All applications must be submitted online; application instructions and the procedure for submitting GRE and TOEFL test scores are available at: Apply Online.
Becoming a Doctoral Candidate
In their first year, BCMB Allied students take the program's core curriculum courses in molecular genetics, biochemistry and structural biology, cell biology and gene structure/function, and logic and critical analysis; they also participate in a graduate research seminar. A course list and course descriptions are available at: Courses.
Lab rotations are an important component of the students' first year as well. Each student completes three laboratory rotations, which help him/her decide on a research focus and select a thesis mentor by the end of the first year.
The choice of a mentor determines the student's program assignment: Biochemistry & Structural Biology, Cell & Developmental Biology, or Molecular Biology. The mentor helps the student select his/her Special Committee, consisting of the mentor and two other faculty members knowledgeable in the student's research field. The committee evaluates the student's research and progress through the rest of his/her WCGS career. Selection of the mentor and the committee typically occurs before the student starts the second year of study.
In spring of the second year, the student takes the Admission to Doctoral Candidacy Examination (ACE), which includes a written component (a research proposal), and an oral examination in which the student defends the proposal and demonstrates general knowledge. Committees made up of program faculty members administer the written and oral ACE. When a student passes the ACE, she/he is a candidate for the PhD degree.
PhD Research and Degree
Within six months of passing the ACE, the student must submit a five-page thesis project description to the Special Committee and meet with the committee for its approval. Thereafter, the student and the committee meet together regularly -- at least annually -- from year two until the student's graduation.
During the second through fourth years, while working in the laboratory, the student must also complete one elective course (two quarters) and participate in in-depth focus groups, which examine topics relevant to the fields of biochemistry, cell biology and molecular biology.
The culmination of the student's successful progression through the program is the final examination (the "defense") and certification by the Special Committee that the thesis represents an official piece of research that satisfies the requirements of the WCGS for the PhD degree.