For the didactic phase of graduate training, you will participate in a set of core courses developed as a joint graduate school effort during the first three terms. Through these courses, you will obtain a broad, coherent background in basic aspects of genetics, molecular biology, bioinformatics, biochemistry, and cell biology. This material is supplemented with journal clubs and more advanced courses in molecular and classical genetics and modern applications, including genomics and gene therapy during the later terms.

View a typical schedule for our students.

You may also take relevant elective courses offered by other programs at Baylor College of Medicine, Rice UniversityThe University of Texas Health Science Center-Houston, or the University of Houston at any time during your graduate school tenure.

Research Rotations

During the first year, you will participate in a minimum of three laboratory rotations. Through these rotations, you will obtain valuable hands-on experience in laboratory techniques and become acquainted with a variety of research topics before selecting a major thesis advisor. 

Bioinformatics, Genomics and Systems Biology Track credit: BCM-MGL

Bioinformatics, Genomics and Systems Biology Track

If you are interested in focusing your graduate training on bioinformatics, genomics, and/or systems biology, consider the BiGSB (pronounced 'BigsBee') track. You may join the track during the first week of your first year in the program.  To indicate interest in participating in the BiGSB Track, apply to the Genetics & Genomics Graduate Program and indicate your interest in BiGSB in the personal statement on the Graduate School application. The main difference with the BiGSB track is that there are fewer required courses so that you are able to customize your coursework to your specific needs and interests.

Qualifying Exam

Once you select the topic for your thesis, you will be evaluated on the basis of your academic performance and by completion of the Qualifying Examination. The format of this examination is the definition of a novel research problem and the development of a proposal to address the stated question and hypothesis. The significance, feasibility, and the relationship of the proposal to the literature are important criteria for evaluation.

The Qualifying Examination determines, in part, your eligibility for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. The examination is designed to test your basic knowledge of molecular biology and genetics, as well as assess creativity and rationality of research design.


You will have the opportunity to both listen to and present many presentations during your education. Program seminars include:

Whole Exome Sign Out Conference

Baylor College of Medicine is the only academic institution to offer Clinical Whole Exome Sequencing. You will have the unique opportunity to attend Whole Exome Sign Out Conferences, held monthly on campus. There you will witness the tremendous impact next-generation sequencing technology has had on the evaluation of Mendelian disorders.

Through Whole Exome Sign Out Conferences, you will learn how WES data are interpreted for clinical significance. You will experience firsthand the ongoing collaboration between the genomic scientists, clinical laboratory scientists and clinicians. You will learn how new advances in next-generation sequencing, interpretation and gene annotation are implemented in clinical testing.

Educational videos from some of these conferences are available.

Graduate Student Research Seminars

In this seminar series senior students (second year and up) present their own research to an audience of students and faculty to develop their presentation skills. You will present your own work approximately once each year in a revolving schedule. Following each presentation, constructive advice from faculty and students is provided about improving presentation skills and about producing effective presentation materials. The aim of this course is to give you the experience necessary to perform highly successful presentations outside of the college in national scientific meetings.

Journal Club

In the journal club, you will study current literature, practice critical analysis of the literature and refine presentation techniques. First-year students present papers from the current literature and all students join in the discussion of the paper presented.