A PhD in Biology from the University of Oregon begins with first-year research rotations, teaching assistantships, coursework, and exams. To help introduce students to different PIs, research, approaches, and biological subdisciplines, first year students participate in three, 10-week long lab rotations. The rotation process helps students gain a sound basis for choosing an area of research for their dissertation and aids them in finding the lab best suited to their interests, personalities, and capabilities.
In addition to rotations, first year students are required to serve three terms as a Graduate Employee (GE) Teaching Assistant (TA). Three terms of being a TA are required to Advance to Candidacy. PhD students also take courses, including Seminars and Journal Clubs each term. There are very few required courses (the exception is BI 610, Ethics in Life Science) although students must complete a minimum of 81 credits to graduate, which is easily achieved over the five-year average time-to-graduation. Institute and training programs may dictate further course requirements but typically there is abundant flexibility for students to choose courses that are of the greatest interest to them. Quarterly exams round out first year requirements.
Following their first year students will identify a thesis lab and form their Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC).
Outstanding students may be selected for specialized training as part of shared training programs:
- Molecular Biology and Biophysics Training Program
- Genetics Training Program
- Developmental Biology Training Program
Second year students conduct research, meet with members of their DAC, take courses, and complete a Proposal Exam. Once students have successfully passed all required exams (quarterly and proposal), completed rotations and the teaching requirement (three terms each), and maintained a minimum GPA of 3.0, they may Advance to Candidacy. Thereafter, the primary focus for the student is on their dissertation research.
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