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Unlike other professional degrees, the PhD is a research degree. The doctoral research should make a significant contribution to the field. To demonstrate this advance, each student is required to publish, as first author or co-first author, at least one peer-reviewed research paper. Having a strong publication record in graduate school is important for almost any future career; employers within and outside of academia use publications as evidence of writing skills and productivity.

It should be noted that while a research publication is necessary, it is not sufficient. A key responsibility of the dissertation committee is to determine whether the body of research contributed by the student, which may include both published and unpublished research, is sufficient to justify awarding of a PhD.


The paper must be published, in press, or formally accepted prior to scheduling a defense. Refer to the Dissertation and Defense Policy for additional details, dates, and scenarios.

Affiliations and Acknowledgements

Students must list their affiliation as “Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology”.  Other affiliations may also be listed. If the student is or was formerly appointed to the Genetics T32 training grant, the Acknowledgements or Funding section must include a statement that the student “was supported in part by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences under award ###.” For students appointed prior to 2020, the award number is 5T32GM007092; for students appointed in 2020 or later, it is 5T32GM135128.

Requests for Exemption

A request for exemption must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies in writing, signed by the student and all members of the dissertation committee. Each request will be considered carefully and ruled upon by the GMB Executive Committee. Request should fall into one of the following categories:

Significant research contributions as a co-author. It is recognized that students that engage in highly collaborative or consortium-based research may make significant contributions that are nonetheless not recognized with first or co-first authorship. If the GMB Executive Committee feels that the research of the student has significantly advanced the field but is not appropriate for separate publication, the request for an exemption should discuss this consortium activity and outline the specific contributions of the student.

Other extenuating circumstances. Request for exemption from the publication requirement can be made for other extenuating circumstances, though these are rarely granted. The request should explain these reasons and should contain an evaluation of the quality and quantity of research performed. If the dissertation committee feels the research is not of sufficient quality or quantity for publication anywhere, the request must explain why the dissertation committee feels the student has nonetheless generated a body of research that warrants awarding a PhD.

Publication expected, but not before graduation deadline. If a manuscript is out for review but a final acceptance may  not be received before a graduation deadline, a student can request completion of paperwork prior to acceptance of the manuscript. The student should submit a letter, co-signed by the advisor(s), that describes the status of the manuscript. These exemptions will be granted only if the GMB Executive Committee is convinced that the paper will be accepted soon. Important:  Please see Dissertation and Defense Policy for important information on your ability to remain a student and receive a stipend after you defend.