Does only one year of classroom work sound good?

We know students are eager to start doing the research that interests them, so the core curriculum at the Baylor College of Medicine Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is arranged so that you can be finished with all your classes in one year.

Working with students, the GSBS faculty has developed a series of courses that meets the educational needs of specific graduate programs and provides a breadth of knowledge that allows students to incorporate ideas from different research areas - an increasingly critical skill as research becomes more interdisciplinary. These courses are taught by faculty who volunteer their time and therefore bring a high level of commitment to the education process. The courses are taught at the graduate level and cover fundamental aspects of modern biomedical research. Below is a general timeline of progress towards a Ph.D. degree.

Year 1

  • Required and Elective Coursework
  • Laboratory Rotations
  • Choose Mentor

Year 2

  • Complete Qualifying Exam
  • Develop Thesis Project with Mentor
  • Assemble Thesis Advisory Committee
  • Advance to Candidacy
  • Begin Conducting Dissertation Research

Year 3 to Graduation

  • Conduct dissertation research
  • Meet with faculty mentor and thesis advisory committee
  • Attend seminars, department conferences, national and international meetings
  • Publish papers
  • Write and defend Ph.D. thesis


Although the majority of students take most of the GSBS core curriculum courses, individual programs tailor their curriculum to meet the unique requirements of their area of research and the specific needs of each student. More specialized required and elective courses are also offered by most departments and graduate programs. To find out more about the courses offered, please see the current course descriptions.

Choosing a Faculty Mentor

A critical component of each student's first year at GSBS is rotating through a variety of laboratories in order to select the faculty mentor that is best for them. Students have the opportunity to spend eight weeks in three to five different laboratories before making this important decision. Each GSBS graduate program has many faculty members who are conducting fascinating research, so choosing between them will likely be the most difficult part of this process.

Qualifying Exam

The next step toward a Ph.D. is completing a qualifying exam sometime during the second year. Each graduate program designs its own exam, but they all require the student to describe and defend a research proposal.

Dissertation Research

Your dissertation research is when you get to put all that book knowledge into practice in the lab. One of the great things about pursing a Ph.D. is that you get to choose to explore an area of research that really interests you. To help you design and carry out your thesis project is your faculty mentor, who - along with your faculty advisory committee - is there to guide and support you throughout this important phase of training.

Each student completes a dissertation describing the results of their original research. Most students have multiple publications that constitute the core of their dissertation. These papers are frequently published in high-quality, peer-reviewed. The dissertation defense involves a public seminar and oral defense to the faculty advisory committee.