Flexibility to Meet Your Goals
Enrolling in the BCM Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences opens doors to educational opportunities both within the College and with other outstanding institutions. We encourage students to customize their training to fit their individual career goals. You may choose to gain teaching experience, complete internships, work with young students, take courses at other institutions or take advantage of other opportunities at the College.
"The faculty really cares about me growing and having everything I need as a student in order to succeed in my future career. This is true for technical skills, knowledge, and the soft skills that are in such high demand in any science field. They ask, "What do you want out of your education," and then respond with initiatives that provide what we need. I have no doubt that I will go into my career with everything that I need to succeed." - Kristyn Hoffman, Ph.D. Student
While it remains critical for Ph.D. students to gain deep knowledge of their specific field of specialization, this is no longer sufficient. Today’s research requires that scientists expand their skill sets. To meet this challenge, BCM is redefining curriculum needs across all programs. Students will gain knowledge skills in a variety of areas including human subjects research, ethics, rigor, leadership, mentoring, time management, teamwork and more.
We recently restructured our graduate programs to reflect BCM's focus on interdisciplinary, collaborative research. We are currently evaluating all aspects of the curriculum to enhance our ability to help you develop both core competencies and deep expertise in modern biomedical science. We are also applying innovative curriculum approaches to ensure you master the critical thinking, communications, teamwork and professional skills necessary to succeed within all the potential career paths open to individuals with a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences. Working with the leadership of your program and your mentor, you will have the flexibility to personalize your training to align with your career goals.
Year One Courses
Our core curriculum is designed to ensure that all students have the strong foundational knowledge and skills essential for all biomedical scientists.
The academic year is broken down over five terms. During the first few terms, you will focus on completing courses within the core curriculum. View the current core curriculum. As the year progresses you will delve deeper into your area of interests with courses run by your program.
In your first year, you will also complete laboratory rotations. One of the great things about pursuing a Ph.D. is that you get to choose to explore an area of research that really interests you. Rotations offer you the opportunity to explore multiple areas of research and get to know the faculty members who will ultimately guide and support you as your mentor. The number of required rotations varies by program, with most students spending time in three to five laboratories before selecting their mentor.
You have the option to complete rotations with any graduate school faculty member. If upon completion of your rotations, you select a thesis advisor who is not a faculty member within your program, you may request approval from your program leadership for this person to be your mentor.
"I work in a small lab. Among our small group, there people from all over. My PI is a Korean woman. My labmates are Chinese, Indonesian and Mexican American and I'm from the Philippines. Everyone's opinions are valued. It doesn't matter where you come from or where you are now, all that matters is what you can bring to the table. Even though I'm just a second-year graduate student from the Philippines, even the most famous researchers at Baylor value and respect my opinion." - Carlo Cristobal, Ph.D. Student
You will continue with coursework focused on building the knowledge and skills required for your area of focus. You will work with your program leadership and thesis mentor to identify which courses are needed to round out your education. You will also complete your Qualifying Exam in year two. Each program designs the exams for their students, but they all require you to describe and defend your research proposal. You will work with your mentor to develop your thesis project, assemble your Thesis Advisory Committee and begin conducting your dissertation research.
Individual Development Plans
After successful completion of the Qualifying Exam, you will begin their Individual Development Plan (IDP). The IDP enables you to identify professional goals that match your interests and values for the purpose of identifying and developing the appropriate career-specific skills. The creation and regular review of the IDP encourages discussions between you and your mentor about career goals early in the training process and implements a course of action to achieve these goals. The three interactive steps and the proposed timeline for completion of the IDP are described in “The Baylor College of Medicine IDP Process.”
Year Three to Graduation
The average time to degree for BCM graduate students is six year. In years three through graduation, you will conduct your dissertation research while meeting regularly with your mentor and Thesis Advisory Committee for guidance and assistance in monitoring your progress. You will also attend seminars and conferences at BCM as well as at other institutions of the Texas Medical Center and national and international meetings.
You will complete a dissertation describing the results of your original research. Most students have multiple publications that constitute the core of their dissertation. These papers are frequently published in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals. The dissertation defense involves a public seminar and oral defense to the Thesis Advisory Committee.
Responsible Conduct of Research
Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research is required of all graduate students. The required training complies with the current recommendations of the NIH for instruction in the responsible conduct of research. Upon completion of the requirements, a certificate of attendance will be issued.