Academic Programs Catalog

College of Natural Science

Interdepartmental Degree Programs

Graduate Study
Genetics and Genome Sciences - Doctor of Philosophy

The interdepartmental Doctor of Philosophy degree program with a major in genetics and genome sciences is administered by the College of Natural Science. The objectives of the program are (1) to prepare the student for independent research and teaching, (2) to help the student to understand the nature and significance of genetics as a whole and to gain strength in related sciences, such as molecular biology and biochemistry, and (3) to enable the student to keep in the forefront of this continuously changing field.

Students may specialize in one area of genetics and genome sciences, but are required to familiarize themselves with all major areas of the discipline. Students may elect to complete the requirements for a second major, in addition to the requirements for the doctoral degree in genetics and genome sciences.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Natural Science, students must meet the requirements specified below. 


Admission to the Doctor of Philosophy degree program with a major in genetics and genome sciences is through the BioMolecular Science Gateway – First Year (BMS). The BMS does not establish minimum cut-off values from any indices, however, the successful applicant will typically have: a bachelor’s degree (four-year or equivalent) or Master of Science degree that includes course work that demonstrates proficiency in math and science; a grade point average of 3.5 or above; significant research experience (equivalent to a minimum of one full-time summer research experience or four semesters of part-time research experience); and strong letters of reference. The GRE is not required to apply to the BMS. Students admitted through the BMS typically perform three research rotations during their first two semesters before they choose their Ph.D. laboratory, and join the Ph.D. program of their choice during the spring semester of their first year in the BMS.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Genetics and Genome Sciences

The program of study is planned by the student in consultation with the major professor and a guidance committee. Specific courses in genetics, as well as courses in other areas considered relevant to the student's interests and chosen research area, are included in the program.

The student must:

1. Complete one of the following courses:
MMG 833 Microbial Genetics 3
MMG 835 Eukaryotic Molecular Genetics 3
2. Complete both of the following courses:
GEN 810 Theory and Practice of Teaching Genetics 1 to 3
GEN  840 Genetics Writing Skills 1 to 6
3. Complete a minimum of 12 credits of additional graduate course work approved by the student’s guidance committee in genetics, molecular biology, and/or biochemistry, including at least one 3-credit course in genomics, quantitative or computational biology.
4. Complete a minimum of four 1-credit seminar courses approved by the student’s guidance committee and the Genetics and Genome Sciences director.
5. Complete a minimum of 24 credits of GEN 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research.
6. Pass a comprehensive examination that includes a written research proposal, public seminar and oral examination with the student’s guidance committee.
7. Write and defend a research dissertation, which shows original treatment of an important research problem.