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A synopsis of GMB program requirements is listed here, with links to full descriptions of policies. There are also many optional training activities.


Each student must take at least five scientific courses, including:

  • Core course in genetics and molecular biology:
    • GNET 621:  Principles of Genetics Analysis
    • GNET 631: Advanced Molecular Biology
  • One seminar/journal club course where the primary emphasis is on reading and interpreting research papers. This must be a full-semester course of 2 credit hours or more). Seminar courses outside of GNET are acceptable. See the GNET courses page for examples. Only one such course may count toward the 5-course total.
  • The remaining two courses can come from elective courses in genetics, molecular biology, bioinformatics and computational biology, or another relevant area of science. Any combination of modules totaling 3 credit hours may be combined to count as one elective course.
  • Every student must take at least one module or course with a quantitative, computational, or statistics focus. This may count toward the two electives or may be in addition to the electives (e.g., you may take two 3-credit courses plus one q/c/s module, or you may take a 3-credit q/c/s course that counts as one of the electives, or you may take a 1-credit q/c/s plus a 2-credit module to count as one elective). Examples include:
    • GNET 645: Quantitative Genetics
    • GNET 742: UNIX and Python for Biomedical Scientists
    • GNET 747: Development of New Applications for Next-Generation Sequencing
    • GNET 749: Practical RNA-Seq
    • Any BCB module

Some GMB program requirements involve being registered for additional training courses. These do not count toward the requirement for five scientific courses. Examples include GNET 850 (for TAing), GNET 701-3 (student and faculty talks), GNET 888 (Responsible Conduct of Research), GNET 994 (Dissertation Research), etc.

Please see the GNET courses page for descriptions of GNET courses and a partial listing courses that may be used to meet the seminar course requirement.

Please see the page on certificate programs for information on how to combine requirements with those programs.

Teaching assistantship

Each student must serve as a teaching assistant (TA) for one approved undergraduate or graduate course (or set of modules). Assignments are made by the Director, based on availability and student preferences.  Students register for course credit (GNET 850 – Training in Genetics Teaching) and do not receive payment toward the stipend and tuition. A list of available courses will be available to students and every effort will be made to match students to desired courses.

Students that enter through BBSP and select an advisor in the Department of Biology or Chemistry whose funding is administered by that department are required to TA for a service course (e.g., Biology core courses) to meet the BBSP reinvestment requirement (how those departments contribute financial resources to run BBSP). This TA appointment will meet the GMB TA requirement.

Written exam

Students take a written exam at the end of year 1 or year 2. The goal is to assess each student’s ability to read the scientific literature critically. Any student who does not pass the exam will be given another opportunity to take the written exam one year later. A second failure of the exam results in academic ineligibility to continue in the Ph.D. program.

Please see the Written Exam Policy page for a full description.

Meetings with the dissertation committee

The student assembles a dissertation committee by the end of the 2nd year. The committee will help guide the student through the PhD and, during the preliminary oral exam and final oral exam (defense), assess the student’s mastery of the field and research achievement.

Please see the Dissertation Committee and Meeting Policy page for a full description.

Preliminary oral exam

The oral exam, taken in the 5th semester (i.e., fall of year 3), consists of a written dissertation proposal and an oral defense of the proposal. it serves to assess the student’s knowledge of genetics and molecular biology, familiarity with their research field, ability to define key knowledge or technological gaps, ability to design a research proposal to fill those gaps, and appropriate use of methods to achieve rigor and reproducibility.

Please see the Oral Exam Policy page for a complete description.

Seminar participation

Attendance at the GMB student and faculty seminar series is mandatory during the 2nd and 3rd years of graduate school and encouraged thereafter. Each student in their 3rd year or above presents their research annually in this seminar series. Students participate in the formation of the Friday faculty seminar series by serving on a student committee that invites and hosts faculty from other institutions. These activities help students develop oral communication skills while building community within the Curriculum.

Please see the Seminar Participation Policy page for a complete description.

Retreat participation

One weekend each fall the Department of Genetics, GMB, and BCB co-host a scientific retreat, usually in the mountains or on the coast, in which students, postdocs, and faculty present talks or posters in a conference format. Student participation in the annual retreat is expected throughout the graduate training period. This helps to expose students to the breadth of research in the Curriculum and to make connections between GMB, BCB, and the Department of Genetics.

Publish a first author peer-reviewed research paper

All GMB Curriculum PhD candidates must publish at least one first- or co-first-authored, peer-reviewed research paper. This demonstrates that the student has conducted a body of research that makes a contribution to the field.

Please see the Publication Policy page for a complete description.

Publications by GMB Students

Final oral defense of the written dissertation

The final oral exam (defense) is preceded by a public presentation of the dissertation research, typically lasting 45-50 minutes. The oral defense is then held with the dissertation committee, using a format chosen by the committee.

Please see the Dissertation and Defense Policy page for a complete description.