The majority of students in the Cellular and Structural Biology graduate program are seeking the Ph.D. degree. The program combines coursework, seminars, journal clubs, and mentored research experiences. The Ph.D. degree is awarded when the candidate has demonstrated an ability to conduct original and independent research and is knowledgeable in the general areas of cell and molecular biology and his/her specialization. The student is admitted to candidacy after completing required coursework, passing an oral qualifying exam, and demonstrating proficiency in independent laboratory research. The qualifying examination is based on a grant proposal written by the student and covers general scientific knowledge as well.
The Integrated Multidisciplinary Graduate Program (IMGP)
The discipline-based doctoral programs in Biochemistry, Cellular & Structural Biology, Microbiology & Immunology, Pharmacology, and Physiology have evolved into the Integrated Multidisciplinary Graduate Program (IMGP). The IMGP reflects contemporary, interdisciplinary advanced education and scientific research based on fundamental principles in the biomedical sciences. Prospective students apply to the IMGP rather than to the former individual, discipline-based doctoral programs.
The IMGP is currently composed of eleven multidisciplinary tracks, which address the most significant training areas in biomedicine. These thematic tracks have been aligned with the major research foci of the faculty in the institution. Four of the 11 tracks are in CSB:
Curricula. Students are enrolled "undifferentiated" into the IMGP, that is, without admission into a specific track. All entering students take an interdisciplinary core course in Fundamentals of Biomedical Sciences and participate in laboratory rotations in the first semester. Students may choose to do rotations and their eventual dissertation research in laboratories of over 200 faculty members. In the second semester students select a specific track and a dissertation supervising professor for further training through course work and research. The curriculum is interdisciplinary in nature such that students in a particular track may take courses in other tracks. In the second year, students continue taking track-specific electives and journal clubs, participating in seminars, and engaging in research. Major milestones are the advancement to PhD candidacy exam and formal approval of a dissertation supervising committee. Students register for a minimum of 9 semester credit hours in the Fall and Spring semesters and 6 semester credit hours in the Summer term.
The graduate program in Cellular and Structural Biology offers three specialized Master's degree programs, in Anatomical Sciences, Biotechnology, and Orthodontics. Generally, the biotechnology track is designed for the student who is interested in technical and/or supervisory positions in biotechnology companies, forensic laboratories, or in academic positions that require extensive knowledge of molecular biology. By comparison, the anatomy track is geared towards an individual who is interested in teaching anatomical sciences or in augmenting their research skills for combination with a medical or dental degree. In addition, residents in orthodontics can pursue a specialized M.S. in that area. Both research and academic skills are emphasized. For students in the Master's tracks, an independent thesis and 30 hours of course work are required. However, there is considerable flexibility in the program in order to accommodate the needs and interests of the individual students.