How Does BBS Work?

Students apply to, and upon matriculation, affiliate with one of the seven Tracks. It is important to note that regardless of a student’s home Track, all courses, faculty and research opportunities at the university remain available. A typical student's course of study follows the schedule below:

Year 1 - Students will typically take two to four courses per semester and will conduct two to four lab rotations over the course of the year. Each Track has a faculty Director who helps first-year students select courses and find suitable lab rotations. 

Year 2 – Just prior to the start of the second year, students select a thesis adviser in whose lab they will conduct their doctoral research. They also then leave their BBS Track and formally join one of 12 Ph.D.-granting programs:

  • Cell Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Physiology
  • Computational Biology and Bioinformatics
  • Experimental Pathology
  • Genetics
  • Immunobiology
  • Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
  • Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
  • Neurobiology
  • Pharmacology

Students in Year 2 complete the course requirements for the graduate program they have joined, take a qualifying exam, act as teaching assistants in lecture or lab courses, and begin thesis research.

Year 3 and Beyond – Students focus primarily on thesis research, publishing their results, and presenting their work at scientific meetings.

The average time-to-degree is 5.5 years.