Ph.D. Requirements

The physiology Ph.D. program combines exposure to the fundamentals of the discipline through courses in the first two years with focused research and scholarship in a student’s area of particular interest. To be awarded a Ph.D. degree in physiology, a student must successfully complete:

  • Required Courses -- The first-year curriculum includes courses in systems and endocrine physiology, supplemented with courses in metabolism, cellular and molecular biology, immunology, and a course on bioethics. The second-year curriculum includes graduate seminars in physiology and courses in biostatistics and professional development.
  • Qualifying Examination -- Given at the end of the first year, the qualifying exam comprises a written paper that tests a student’s ability to analyze the primary literature in physiology and an oral exam that tests a student’s knowledge of physiology gained over the first year.
  • Competency in English -- The Graduate School requires that students demonstrate proficiency in written and oral English.
  • Comprehensive Examination -- The comprehensive exam is usually taken before the start of the third year; it consists of the student's thesis proposal and an oral defense.
  • Research Project -- An original investigation under the supervision of a physiology program faculty advisor leading to a written dissertation.
  • Thesis Defense -- A public presentation of a student's thesis research and oral examination by a student’s doctoral committee.

The time from admission to thesis defense is generally five years. Students must maintain a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher in academic courses to be retained in the program and to continue to receive financial support.