All enrolled students must attend at least 80% of the department’s seminars; these include journal club, PiN, and Epicenter talks. 

Year 1 Choose a lab. Complete required coursework for whichever umbrella program you are entering through. Apply for the NSF GRFP pre-doctoral fellowship. Complete MG 250: “Responsible Conduct of Research”, which is required for all trainees in the School of Medicine as well as anyone funded by an NIH grant.

Year 2 Convene your committee for its first meeting; this will be a relatively informal “meet & greet” session where you introduce yourself, your background, your goals, and what you’ve been working on in the lab. They will probably ask a lot of questions and give you good ideas for additional experiments. Then, in a separate meeting several months later, complete the Second Year Exam (aka pre-advancement). Your committee only needs to have three members at this point: two from A&N (one of whom must be primary appointment) and one from another department or institution. Pre-advancement is intended to accelerate the timeline to advancement and, thus, to defense; it is more a test of scientific focus than of knowledge per se.

Year 3 Advance to candidacy: write a research proposal in the style of an NRSA (F31). While you’re at it, submit it to NIH! (why not) Set a date to present it to your committee, which should now comprise 5 members, the majority of whom must be from A&N. Two weeks prior to the meeting, send them your proposal. Prepare a roughly hour-long talk describing your work in the lab and what you propose to do for your dissertation project. After your talk, you will be asked to step out of the room while your committee evaluates you. They will then invite you back inside to receive their feedback. Receive it gracefully, then collect everyone’s signatures and deliver your advancement documents to Grad Division. Note that you will also need signatures from the department Chair (currently Christine Gall) and the SOM Associate Dean of Graduate Studies (currently Klemens Hertel). Congratulations! You are now officially a PhD Candidate.

Year 4 Convene your committee every 6 months to touch base and assemble your dissertation.

Year 5+ Convene your committee every 6 months. Prepare to defend your dissertation!