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How Does BBS Work?

BBS is the gateway to a Ph.D. in the biological and biomedical sciences at Yale. Rather than applying to and entering a Ph.D. program upon admission, students instead apply to and spend their first year within one of 8 interest-based areas called Tracks:

  1. Biochemistry, Quantitative Biology, Biophysics, and Structural Biology (BQBS)
  2. Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (CBB)
  3. Immunology
  4. Microbiology
  5. Molecular Cell Biology, Genetics, and Development (MCGD)
  6. Neuroscience
  7. Plant Molecular Biology (PMB)
  8. Translational Molecular Medicine, Pharmacology, and Physiology (TMMPP)

This Track-based first year training environment enables students to explore and refine their research interests before having to commit to a particular Ph.D discipline. Regardless of a student’s home Track, elective courses, faculty labs, and seminars throughout 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 – Prior to the start of the second year, students select a thesis adviser in whose lab they will conduct their doctoral research. At the beginning of the second year they leave their BBS Track and formally join one of these 12 Ph.D.-granting programs:

Cell Biology / Cellular & Molecular Physiology / Computational Biology & Bioinformatics / Experimental Pathology / Genetics / Immunobiology / Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program / Microbiology / Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry / Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology / Pharmacology / Translational Biomedicine

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 median time-to-degree is 5.7 years, as defined as time to receipt of the diploma. Yale awards diplomas only two times per year, and students complete their graduate training up to 8 months prior to receipt of their diplomas.