Becoming a scientist is more than just getting a Ph.D. degree--it means learning how to combine a unique way to think about biological problems with knowledge of cutting-edge technology. But what constitutes the best training for you depends on your individual needs. We will help you match your background and goals with your education as you select from among a wide array of courses.

A wide range of courses are available to you during your first year. Small class size facilitates one-on-one interactions with some of the nation’s leading scientists. You will acquire depth and breadth in a number of different areas, combined with a more intensive investigation of topics of particular interest to you.

Your choices for curriculum can be individualized, depending on what you have already had during your undergraduate and/ or master's studies. However, we also want to ensure that you acquire a broad base of knowledge. We achieve this by offering a curriculum that is a mix of required courses, flexible required courses, and elective courses.

Director's Course

The First-Year Director’s Course employs a small, seminar-format, with 10 to 15 students and is taught by the director/co-directors (one to two faculty for each term). This course focuses on learning how to critically evaluate the primary scientific literature, design and interpret experiments, and give lucid presentations.

The goal of the course is to help you develop practical and intellectual skills, very early in your graduate studies, as the result of direct interaction and guidance from a group of highly experienced and successful scientists. The intimate format enables the director and co-directors to learn about your interests at the beginning of your graduate career, and also encourages close working relationships with fellow first-year classmates.

Research Rotations

Research rotations are designed to allow you to sample three to five different laboratories before you chose your mentor. Two months of performing experiments and getting to know the members of the lab provides you with the information you need for choosing a thesis lab. Rotations also provide a valuable education as you learn a variety of skills and techniques, experience different intellectual environments, and meet grad students and postdocs in different labs around the Baylor College of Medicine campus.

How do you find the information you need about what labs to choose for rotations? You will have the opportunity to hear faculty members present a brief overview of their research. These short talks, along with information that each faculty member has on this website, provide insight about specific research programs.

Many of the program's faculty also teach courses. Listening to someone teaching in their area of expertise really gives you an idea of how that person approaches science and thinks about problems.

Finally, our students are a cohesive and interactive group, which means that the more senior students are in close contact with the more junior students. Senior students provide informal advice about labs (science, mentoring, etc.), help with preparation for the qualifying oral exams, and (in one case) also teach salsa dance lessons.

Seminar Course

The Seminar in Cell and Molecular Biology course meets every Monday afternoon, for a formal hour-long seminar presented by a student (3rd- and 4th-year students present for one hour; 2nd-year students present a 30-minute introductory seminar). The question-and-answer period at the conclusion of the formal presentation usually lasts 5 to 10 minutes, with students asking questions that display an amazing degree of intellectual rigor and analysis.

As a result of this course, you will develop seminar skills that rival those of any Ph.D. student in the U.S. More importantly than seminar presentation skills, however, is that you will have the opportunity for dialogue and exchange really brings the inter-disciplinary goals of the program to fruition.  You will clearly follow the research progress of your peers, paying attention to evolving models and developing technologies.