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The program of study leading to the PhD degree emphasizes a broad approach to the fundamental principles of genetics, development and molecular biology combined with extensive research training. The program is designed to permit close interaction between graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty, while also encouraging full participation in the larger community of biological scientists at Yale.

The PhD program in Genetics is designed to provide the student with a broad background in general genetics and the opportunity to conduct original research in a specific area of genetics. The Genetics student is expected to acquire a broad understanding of genetics, spanning knowledge of at least three basic areas of genetics, which include molecular, cellular, organismal, and population genetics. Normally this requirement is accomplished through the satisfactory completion of formal courses, many of which cover more than one of these areas. Students are required to pass at least six graduate level courses.

Students enter the Genetic Graduate Program following the completion of their first year of studies within the BBS Program. Students who enter the Genetics Graduate Program normally select a faculty thesis advisor with an appointment in the Department of Genetics. Read more about our research labs here. Advanced graduate study becomes increasingly focused on the successful completion of original research and the preparation of a written dissertation under the direct supervision of a faculty advisor along with the guidance of a thesis committee.

A qualifying examination is given during the second year of study. This examination consists of a period of directed reading with the faculty followed by the submission of two written proposals and an oral examination. Following the completion of course work and the qualifying examination, the student submits a dissertation prospectus (by the end of the sixth term) and is admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree. There is no language requirement.

The completed research is presented in the form of a written dissertation and a formal seminar. Typically four to six years are required in total to complete work for the PhD degree.

Teaching Responsibilities

An important aspect of graduate training in genetics is the acquisition of communication and teaching skills. Students participate in presentation seminars and are asked to serve as teaching assistants during two terms (or the equivalent). Teaching duties normally involve assisting in discussion sections, seminar groups or laboratories, and grading, and do not require more than 10 hours per week. Teaching activities are drawn from a diverse menu of lecture, laboratory, and seminar courses given at the undergraduate, graduate, and medical school level. Students are not expected to teach during their first year.

Additional Responsibilities

Exchange of information with colleagues is an essential component of scientific life. The Genetics Department hosts a Genetics Journal Club as well as a weekly seminar series. Advanced graduate students present the results of their research to members of the Department in a Research in Progress series each year.

The annual departmental retreat consists of a weekend program of informal research talks, poster sessions, and discussions. This provides an outstanding opportunity to keep up-to-date with the diverse research underway in the department and to participate in vigorous scientific discussions. In addition to these intradepartmental activities, there are many additional seminar programs in which outside speakers from the U.S. and abroad present their work to the Yale scientific community. Students have the opportunity to meet with these guests as well as to select and host seminar speakers. Students are also encouraged to travel to scientific meetings and to present their research.

MD/PhD Studies

The breadth of the Program, the flexible nature of its graduate studies, and the increasing recognition of the importance of genetics and development in medicine make this Program ideal for MD/PhD students who wish to pursue a career combining basic and clinical research. Interested students should contact:

Kayla McKay, Registrar, MD/PhD Program
Yale School of Medicine
367 Cedar St.
New Haven, CT 06510-8046
Tel. 203.785.4403


All the resources for genetic and molecular biology research are available at the University. Major items include the Biomedical Computing Unit, nucleotide and peptide synthesis and sequencing, high throughput microarray technology for functional genomic and proteomic analysis, and facilities for electron microscopy, laser scanning, confocal microscopy, and transgenic mouse and hybridoma construction.

Research laboratories are located throughout the Yale University campus. The Departments of Cell Biology, Genetics, Immunobiology, Microbial Pathogenesis, Neurobiology, Pathology and a portion of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry are located in the School of Medicine, while the Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology Department, Computational Biology & Bioinformatics, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and the balance of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry are in the Science Hill area of Yale College.

Research in the biological and biomedical sciences has become increasingly integrated between Yale’s campuses and departments. Research laboratories are located both in the School of Medicine and in the Science Hill area of Yale College. The Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry Department, as well as interdepartmental programs in Neurobiology and Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, have branches in both campuses. The School of Medicine and Science Hill are within walking and bicycling-distance, and a free shuttle bus operates daily to provide transportation between these sites.

Three newly constructed buildings and renovated spaces have added state-of-the-art facilities to the Yale campus. The Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine at the School of Medicine helps bring together both basic and clinical scientists in areas such as molecular genetics, molecular oncology and development, and molecular neurobiology. The new Anlyan Center for Medical Research and Education houses laboratory space, the new Magnetic Resonance Research Center, the Section of Bioimaging sciences, modern teaching facilities and new animal care facilities. The Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Center for Molecular and Structural Biology provides a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility that brings together researchers from throughout the University to study gene expression and protein structure. This four-story structure on Science Hill is linked via bridges to the Sterling Chemistry Laboratory and the Josiah Willard Gibbs Research Laboratory. The Yale Center for Genome Analysis (YCGA) is a state-of-the-art DNA Sequencing Center Launched in 2010 on Yale's West Campus to provide a centralized facility for services, equipment and expertise required for carrying out large-scale sequence analysis studies. Yale has allocated entire building to YCGA with over 7000 sq. ft. of custom-designed laboratory and office space equipped with all modern amenities.

Admission & Financial Aid

Admission to the Department of Genetics graduate program is through an interest-based track, usually the Molecular Cell Biology, Genetics & Development Track (MCGD) in the Combined Program in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS). Appropriate preparation for graduate study in Genetics includes a bachelor’s degree in the natural sciences including course work in biology, chemistry, and mathematics. Almost all successful applicants have undergraduate or postgraduate research experience and have completed courses in genetics, biochemistry, or molecular and cell biology.

Approximately 25 new students enter the Molecular Cell Biology, Genetics and Development Track (MCGD) Track each year. Admission is competitive and is based on evaluation by an admissions committee of academic performance, potential, and letters of recommendation. The top applicants are invited to New Haven at the program's expense for a day of introduction and interviews to assist in the admissions decision.

Students accepted into our graduate program receive a full tuition scholarship including health coverage and a yearly allotment for travel to scientific meetings. All students also receive a stipend for living expenses for the duration of their graduate studies. In most cases, tuition and stipend funds are from predoctoral training grants awarded to Yale by the National Institutes of Health.

Financial aid from international students is extremely competitive and is arranged on an individual basis. International applicants are strongly urged to apply for scholarships or funding from their government or other agencies. Prospective students should submit a completed application form (download application forms), transcripts, graduate records exam scores, and letters of recommendation to the Office of Graduate Admissions by that date. International applicants are also required to submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Applications and further information may be obtained by contacting the Office of Graduate Admissions:

Office of Graduate Admissions
Yale University
PO Box 208323
New Haven, CT 06520-8323