Biological Sciences Columbia University
FACULTYRESEARCHPh.D. PROGRAMM.A. BIOTECHNOLOGYUNDERGRADUATECOURSES
Ph.D. PROGRAM
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Ph.D. Requirements

Ph.D. Requirements
Introduction

The Ph.D. Program in Biological Sciences can be described in terms of 4 components: course work, qualifying examinations, teaching, and research. For further treatment of this topic consult the Graduate Student Handbook

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Course Work

  • The Core Course in cell and molecular biology (G6001 - G6002 - G6003). Two semesters of this intensive course (in six to seven half-semester modules) cover genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, developmental biology, structural biochemistry, neurobiology, immunology, and computational biology.

  • Pre-research Seminars (G9301): Faculty describe and discuss their current research.

  • Ethics: discussions on the conduct of science. Starting in 2010-2011, Research Ethics is offered in the Fall semester: BIOETHICS K4450 Research Ethics

  • Students must take Statistics (three semesters of college-level math) if it was not taken previously. Students who have not had 3 semesters of college-level math (Statistics and Calculus) are required to make up those undergraduate courses.

  • Attendance at the weekly Departmental colloquium (outside speakers) is required. Seminars are usually held Mondays and Wednesdays at noon in Room 700 Fairchild.

  • Two approved graduate seminar courses. No more than one of the two elective courses may have a grade of "B-" and the average must be "B" or higher. For students entering in 2009 or prior, three graduate courses are required, two are required for those entering with Masters degrees. For a list of elective courses go to pre-approved elective courses.
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Qualifying Exams

  • Qualifying Exam Part I: Successful completion of the Core Course sequence.(G6001, G6002, G6003).

  • Qualifying Exam Part II: a written research proposal describing an intended thesis project (~10 double-spaced pages) followed by an oral defense before a 2-person faculty committee. This exam may take place during the Spring semester of the second year. It must be completed by the end of the Fall semester of the third year. Qualifying Exam Part II Form
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Teaching

Experience in teaching is deemed an important and essential part of Ph.D. training. Two semesters are required for most students. Assignments include leading a recitation section and supervising a laboratory section. Extra credit is given for more demanding assignments. Students are given a short workshop in teaching technique at the start of this training. More information on teaching can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook

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Research

Research constitutes the single most important component of the training program. Laboratory rotations begin in the first semester of the first year. Two or three rotations are strongly encouraged, but not required. A rotation period constitutes either an entire semester (i.e., Fall or Spring Semester) or the Summer term of the first academic year (i.e., mid-May to September). Thus, by the start of the second year, students will have settled into laboratories for their thesis research.
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Student Advisory Committees

Starting in the second year (spring semester) or the fall semester of the third year, each student meets with an advisory committee consisting of their research sponsor plus two other faculty. This committee stays with the student until the completion of the program, the defense of the thesis.
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Time to Degree

First Year

Fall

  • Core I class - BIOL G6001, G6002
  • BIOL W4400 Computational Genomics - Choice 1 of 2 to fulfill core requirement for Genomics for advanced computational bio students.
  • Pre-research seminar - BIOL G9301
  • Rotation 1
  • Bioethics (BIET) K4450 Research Ethics (recommended to complete in the second year)
  • 1st Residence Unit (call #99991)

 

Spring

  • Core II class - Biol G6003 (with G6001, G6002 and Genomics completes Qualifying Exam 1)
  • BIOL W4510 Genomics of Gene Regulation - Choice 2 of 2 to fulfill Core requirement for Genomics for less advanced computational bio students.
  • Rotation 2
  • Elective (1 of 2)
  • 2nd Residence Unit (call #99991)

 

Summer

  • Statistics or Calculus if needed
  • Rotation 3 (if needed) or Research in permanent lab

 

 

Second Year

Fall

  • Elective (2 of 2)
  • Teaching (1 of 2)
  • Research
  • Bioethics (BIET) K4450 Research Ethics (recommended to complete in the second year)
  • 3rd Residence Unit (call #99991)

 

Spring

  • BIOL G6300 Writing for the Biological Sciences
  • Elective (if needed)
  • Teaching (2 of 2, must be completed by the end of the third year)
  • Research
  • 4th Residence Unit (call #99991)
  • Qualifying Exam 2 - link to form - must be completed by December 31 of the Third Year

 

  • Apply for MA degree - link to application
    Students must complete the Masters Degree requirements by the end of the Second Year.

 

Summer

  • Research

 

 

Third Year

Fall

  • Complete Electives (if needed)
  • Research
  • 5th Residence Unit (call #99991)
  • Qualifying Exam 2 - link to form - must be completed by December 31 of the Third Year

 

Spring

  • Complete Electives (if needed)
  • Research
  • 6th and last Residence Unit (call #99991)

 

Summer

  • Research

 

 

Fourth Year

Fall, Spring

  • Research
  • Student Seminars (Fridays 5 pm, Room 700 Fairchild)
  • Extended Residence Unit
  • Annual Committee Meeting - link to form

 

Summer

  • Research

 

 

Fifth Year & beyond

Fall, Spring

  • Research
  • Extended Residence Unit
  • Committee Meeting every 6 months - link to form

 

Summer

  • Research

 

 

Planning for Dissertation Defense 

 

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Departmental Retreat

Every other year, the entire department spends a weekend in the mountains discussing research projects. The past two Mini-Symposium Retreats have taken place at Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center .

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