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Program Curriculum

Lab Rotations

Students complete a minimum of three and a maximum of four research rotations in the laboratories of program faculty during the first 12 months of the program. The rotations provide the student a broad experimental experience and help the student to select a laboratory in which to pursue thesis research.

Candidacy for the PhD

The Preliminary Exam is taken at the end of the first year. The general format of a preliminary examination for the Cell Biology, Stem Cells and Development Graduate Program is a written grant proposal followed by an oral examination by a preliminary examination committee consisting of five faculty members representing different aspects of the research within CSD, such as Development, Cell Biology and Stem Cell Biology.

See CSD handbook for more information.


Year 1

In the Fall semester, our students take the required Core Course. In Spring, our students are required to take our course in Developmental Biology (CSDV 7605) and an elective course. Also during that first year, each of our students performs three, 11 week long, laboratory rotations. At the end of the first year, students take a written preliminary examination covering all course materials (from all Fall and Spring semester courses), and then choose a thesis laboratory in which to do their doctoral work.

Year 2

Second year students register for 5 or more research credits (CSCV 7650) per Fall and Spring semester, as they begin work in their thesis lab. Students are also required to take one Advanced Topics or Elective course in their 2nd year. To be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, students must pass an oral comprehensive examination around the end of their 2nd year in the program (but it must be taken by December of the 3rd year). This exam comprises a public seminar, followed by an oral defense of a written proposal based on the students thesis research.

Year 3 and Beyond

Following a successful comprehensive examination, students register for 5 doctoral thesis research credits, CSDV 8990, per Fall and Spring semesters. Additionally, students are required to take one Advanced Topics or Elective course each year.

PhD Thesis

After passing the Comprehensive Examination, the student enters PhD candidacy. During the following years the students perform research towards a thesis defense. Students must give annual reports on the progress of their thesis research to the CSD faculty in the form of 30-minute seminars, and meet at least annually with their Thesis Committee. The Chairman of the Thesis Committee will meet with the GAC to discuss the student’s progress and will submit a brief written summary of the outcome of each meeting with the student.

Upon completion of a body of original research that constitutes a significant contribution of new knowledge to the field of cell and developmental biology, students will write a PhD thesis containing this information, and defend this document at an oral examination scheduled by the CU-AMC Graduate School. Check with the Graduate School for current deadlines, thesis format requirements and required paperwork prior to writing the thesis and scheduling the defense.

See CSD handbook for more information.

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