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Paths to Degree

The following is a representative timeline for the Ph.D. Program in Biology. Individual timelines will vary according to research project, student productivity, etc.

Year 1


  • Up to 30 credits earned
  • Course credits include core curriculum + research lab rotations
  • Up to 3 lab rotations during the academic year
  • January workshop in teaching
  • January peer mentoring event
  • Online and in-person course in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)
  • Preparation and journal reading for the First Exam
  • Mentor selection in May
  • First Exam in June

Year 2


  • Up to 30 credits earned
  • Course credits include elective courses + independent research + weekly colloquium
  • Select 3-person advisory committee
  • Conduct preliminary studies for doctoral thesis project
  • Schedule Second Exam (Thesis Proposal defense: written + oral) for Spring
  • Undergraduate teaching: 1-2 lab sections/semester for up to 2 semesters/year (teaching one college course or lab section in each of two semesters is a Program requirement)
  • Apply for Doctoral Student Research Grant (optional)

Year 3


  • Second Exam (if not completed in Spring of Year 2) must be completed by Spring of this year
  • Attend weekly research colloquium
  • Meet with 3-person advisory committee (yearly from now until graduation)
  • Conduct doctoral thesis research
  • Attend national or international conference to present research findings
  • Undergraduate teaching (if requested by mentor)
  • Apply for Doctoral Student Research Grant (optional)

Year 4


  • Meet with 3-person advisory committee
  • Conduct doctoral thesis research
  • Undergraduate teaching (if requested by mentor)
  • Apply for Dissertation Fellowship (optional)

Year 5


  • Conduct doctoral thesis research
  • Undergraduate teaching (if requested by mentor)
  • Prepare research findings for publication
  • Attend national or international conference to present research findings
  • Write thesis and schedule Thesis Defense (Third Exam)