Skip to Content

Academics:

MD/PhD Degree Requirements

Graduate School Milestones

  • Complete required tutorial rotations (Prior to beginning of GS1)

    All GSBS students are required to complete tutorial research rotations with three different Regular Members of the GSBS faculty prior to selecting a dissertation advisor. Associate members may not serve as the primary mentor for a PhD or MD/PhD student. The normal rotation period is approximately 10 weeks.  With permission from the GSBS Office of Academic Affairs and the tutorial instructor, shorter rotation periods are permitted with a minimum of 5 weeks.     

    Students must register for GS00 1514 Tutorial Research Experience under the GSBS tutorial instructor's name in order to receive credit for each rotation. If additional research credits are needed to attain full time enrollment, the student may also register with the same instructor for GS00 1520 Research in Biomedical Sciences.

    Students must meet with a GSBS Academic Affairs advisor and their MD/PhD program advisor prior to the selection of each tutorial instructor.

    Tutorial rotations should be carried out during the periods listed below:

    • Pre-MS1 -  Students may register at GSBS for a tutorial during summer semester preceding MS1 provided that they complete the onboarding, administrative pre-enrollment process and registration prior to the first day of summer classes.    

    • Summer after MS1- Students may register at GSBS during this period between MS1 and MS2 which will typically allow enough time for one 10 week rotation or two 5 week rotations.

    • Second Summer Session following MS3 – Upon completion of MS3 students who have not yet identified a dissertation advisor and completed all required tutorials may carry out an additional tutorial.  The GSBS Second Summer Session begins in the first week of July and extends to mid-August.

    Rotation Waivers

    Students who have previously completed substantial graduate level research projects or have a published research paper prior to enrollment in the program may request a waiver for a maximum of one required tutorial by contacting their GSBS Academic Affairs advisor.

  • Identify a research advisor (Beginning of GS1)

    Prior to the transition to full-time enrollment at GSBS at the end of MS3 students must complete the STEP2 exams. Students should select a GSBS Dissertation Advisor before the end of summer semester following MS3. The advisor must be a Regular Member of the GSBS faculty. Associate members may not be the primary advisor of a PhD or MD/PhD student.

    The selection of an advisor, should be done in consultation with both an GSBS Academic Affairs advisor and the Director of the MSTP program. Although the MSTP program will financially support all required tutorial rotations, the advisor must assume support of the student’s GRA and research project upon affiliation and transition to GSBS. The advisor is responsible for providing continuous support throughout the student’s dissertation research at GSBS. To formally identify the advisor, the student must provide GSBS with fully completed copies of the Accountable Mentorship Agreement and the GSBS Core Tenets Agreement. Both documents and instructions can be obtained from the GSBS Office of Academic Affairs.  

    Required Forms:

    Accountable Mentorship Agreement- contact Dr. Natalie Sirisaengtaksin

  • Join a GSBS Graduate Program (Beginning of GS1)

    MD/PhD students must choose a primary area of research concentration by associating with one of our PhD Programs. Each program has a specific set of requirements for students that are in addition to the general curriculum requirements. Please visit each individual program page to learn more about their course requirements.

  • Complete GSBS Ethical Dimensions course (End of fall term of GS1)

    Every GSBS student is required to demonstrate knowledge in biomedical ethics by passing a one-credit-hour course entitled The Ethical Dimensions of the Biomedical Sciences. The course, taught by over 12 GSBS faculty, provides students with a framework to recognize, examine, and resolve ethical conflicts in their professional lives. By design, students typically take the Ethical Dimensions of Biomedical Sciences course in their first fall of enrollment in graduate school so they have critical ethical awareness and conflict-resolution tools for the duration of their education.

  • Obtain approval from ASC for Advisory Committee (End of fall term of GS1)

    The Advisory Committee bears the primary responsibility for monitoring the student's progress until all degree requirements are met and assists in:

    • Selection of courses
    • Development of a research project
    • Approval of petitions for Candidacy and Defense

    The student must form an advisory committee of and submit it to the GSBS Academic Standards Committee for approval prior to the end of the first semester of GS1.

    The committee consists of at least five members, including the student's advisor who chairs the committee, chosen to assure representation by faculty competent in the student's major area of research. All MSTP students must form committees that adhere to these guidelines:

    • Must include one MSTP program co-derector or an experienced member of the MSTP committee.
    • Up to two members of the committee may be faculty who are not part of GSBS. They can be from other institutions.
    • One member must be part of the GSBS faculty and have research interests that are outside the student's major discipline.
    • Some programs may require a certain number of program-associated faculty on each student committee. Please visit your program page for further details.

    Required Forms:

    Selection of Advisory Committee

  • Hold first advisory committee meeting (End of fall term of GS1)
    Once your committee is approved, you are expected to hold your first meeting soon after.
    • At least 4 members must be present at the meeting or attend via video/call-in. Students must meet individually with any members that are not present at the meeting.
    • You must provide your committee with a pre-meeting progress update at least 5 days before the meeting
    • During the meeting, the committee will complete part of the committee meeting report and each member will sign, whether they are present or not for the meeting.
    • After the meeting, you will complete the student response to the committee’s recommendations section of the committee meeting report.
    • The committee meeting report, which includes the student's progress update and the student's response to the committee's recommendations, should be submitted to the student, all members of the Advisory Committee and to gsbs.reports@uth.tmc.edu within 10 business days from the date of the meeting. The meeting will be recorded only if a report is received.

    Goals of your first Advisory Committee Meeting – The primary goal of your first meeting is to introduce yourself and describe your plan (rationale, significance, hypothesis, and aims) for your project so that the committee members can actively give you input. If you have preliminary data, it should be presented but should not be the primary focus of the meeting. You are looking for high-level advice from your committee on the planning of the project.

    DO be sure to explain all aspects of your project and ask the committee for their advice on it.

    DON’T start off the meeting by presenting data without first providing a sound rationale for the project and experiments.

  • Hold subsequent Advisory Committee meetings (Every six months)

    Students are expected to hold an advisory committee meeting every 6 months.

    • At least 4 members must be present at the meeting or attend via video/call-in. Students must meet individually with any members that are not present at the meeting.
    • You must provide your committee with a pre-meeting progress update at least 5 days before the meeting
    • During the meeting, the committee will complete part of the committee meeting report and each member will sign, whether they are present or not for the meeting.
    • After the meeting you will complete the student response to the committee’s recommendations section of the committee meeting report.
    • The committee meeting report, which includes the student's progress update and the student's response to the committee's recommendations, should be submitted to the student, all members of the Advisory Committee and to gsbs.reports@uth.tmc.edu within 10 business days from the date of the meeting. The meeting will be recorded only if a report is received.
  • Complete Scientific Writing Course (End of GS1)

    Students may take either Scientific Writing or any Program-specific scientific writing course.

    Currently, the Program-specific courses approved to meet the requirement are:

    • GS03 1111 Scientific Writing for Grant Proposals
    • GS04 1811 G&E Scientific Writing
    • GS07 1092 Topics in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

    Students must satisfy this requirement prior to petitioning for PhD candidacy.

  • Complete Ethics modules (End of GS1)

    Because students complete The Ethical Dimensions of the Biomedical Sciences at the start of their graduate training, students are also required to complete two on-line modules – Data Acquisition and Management and Responsible Authorship and Publication – prior to completing their degree, as a “just-in-time” supplemental review of key ethical issues.

    Instructions for completing these modules are sent to students via email after completion of the ethics course. Once complete, please email the two completion reports showing the final score you made for each module to Bunny Perez in the GSBS Office of Academic Affairs.

  • Complete a quantitative course (End of GS1)

    All MD/PhD students must complete at least one GSBS quantitative course from the list below:

    • GS01 1143 Introduction to Bioinformatics
    • GS14 1612 Biostatistics for Life Scientists
    • GS03 1023 Current Methods in Biochemistry and Cell Biology
    • GS11 1013 Genetics and Human Disease

    Other GSBS courses may fulfill this requirement, but students must obtain the approval from GSBS Academic Affairs before course registration.

  • Complete pre-candidacy course requirements of MD/PhD Program and PhD Program (End of GS1)

    All MD/PhD students must select an area of research concentration by joining one of 9 available GSBS PhD programs.  These programs have specific course requirements in addition to the general GSBS requirements listed above. Before joining a program, students should talk to the PhD Program Director regarding:

    1. Modified requirements that the program may have established for MD/PhD students to eliminate overlap with Medical School courses. Many programs have specific requirements for MD/PhD students posted on their GSBS website.
    2. Possible waivers of program requirements based on the student’s previous coursework. The program director is responsible for approving such waivers. If a waiver is obtained, the student must notify GSBS Academic Affairs by forwarding an email from the director confirming that the waiver was granted. The waiver will be added to the student’s record.
  • Petition for PhD candidacy (End of Fall term of GS2)

    Before submitting the petition, the student must be in good academic standing and have completed the following requirements:

    • Three tutorials
    • Core Course or Program-specific Area Courses
    • Ethical Dimensions of the Biomedical Sciences
    • Two online ethics modules, namely 1) Responsible Authorship and Publication and 2) Data Acquisition and Management  (instructions for completing the modules will be emailed during the spring semester to all students who completed the Ethics course from the previous fall term) 
    • A course that satisfies the GSBS scientific writing requirement
    • MD/PhD program and PhD program-specific pre-candidacy course requirements
  • Take candidacy exam (End of spring term of GS2)

    All MD/PhD students must petition for PhD candidacy by the end of spring semester of GS2. The purpose of the candidacy examination is to test the student's breadth and depth of knowledge in the biomedical sciences. The examination is meant to be an evaluation of the student's ability to construct a hypothesis, to design the means by which to test it, and to critically analyze obtained results.

    Please visit the PhD Candidacy Exam page for more detailed information.

  • Complete all PhD Program-specific requirements (Before return to MS4)
    Students are expected to complete all requirements of the PhD degree prior to their return to Medical School. Return to medical school requires approval by the student’s advisory committee, GSBS Academic Affairs, and the MSTP Program Director.
  • Submit a signed petition to defend dissertation (Before return to MS4)

    All students must submit their Petition for Defense at least two weeks before their defense date. A complete petition includes:

    1. Signed Request for Defense form
    2. Electronic version of your abstract for distribution in GSBS Essential (the abstract should be in MS Word -- not a PDF)

    3. Electronic version of your thesis for an anti-plagiarism check that includes complete thesis/dissertation without the references.

    4. PDF of the draft of your thesis for formatting check – include all pages (i.e., approval page, title page, abstract, acknowledgements, table of contents, figures, figure legends, references, vita, etc.)

    5. PDF of your updated CV. (please include your publications, presentations, awards, etc.)

      Note: Exit forms will be sent to you by Bunny Perez once your defense petition is approved (see list of forms below)

  • Defend dissertation (Before return to MS4)

    Students are expected to complete all requirements of the PhD degree prior to their return to Medical School. Return to medical school requires approval by the student’s advisory committee, GSBS Academic Affairs, and the MSTP Program Director. 

  • Submit a minimum of one first-authored scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal (Before return to MS4)

    All students are required to submit a first author (or “co-first author”) research paper to a peer reviewed journal prior to defense. Students who entered the program in 2014 or after must also have such a paper accepted for publication prior to graduation.

  • Submit final, signed dissertation and complete all appropriate exit paperwork (Before return to MS4)

    Students are expected to complete all requirements of the PhD degree prior to their return to Medical School. Return to medical school requires approval by the student’s advisory committee, GSBS Academic Affairs, and the MSTP Program Director.

    It is recommended that students plan carefully and make every attempt to complete all PhD degree requirements before returning to Medical School. In the event that all experiments and data analysis have been completed but the defense will not be held until after the beginning of the Medical School semester, the student may apply for an exception to the above requirement upon recommendation of the student’s advisory committee. The request will be reviewed by GSBS Academic Affairs who may individually poll advisory committee members. Students should regularly discuss their timeline for MS return with their Advisory Committee members throughout their GSBS training.   

  • Publish a minimum of one first-authored scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal (Before graduation)

    First-author Publication GSBS Minimum Standard for PhD students

    A requirement of the PhD degree is for the student to demonstrate the development of an original and significant body of dissertation research.  The quality, scope and depth of the research necessary to complete a PhD dissertation is determined primarily by the student's Advisory Committee which must approve the dissertation prior to graduation.  As a minimum standard, the GSBS requires all PhD students to produce at least one first-author peer-reviewed research publication based on their dissertation work.  As this is intended only as a minimum standard, the Advisory Committee may require a student to complete more research, including additional first-author publications, as part of the body of work necessary to complete the PhD degree.  

    Please note that the specifics of the GSBS minimum standard differ depending on the year that the student first entered the GSBS:

    • PhD students who entered GSBS prior to the Fall Semester of 2014:

    Must submit one first-author research paper for peer-review and publication prior to defending their dissertation. 

    • PhD students who entered GSBS in the Fall semester of 2014 or after:

    Must submit one first-author research paper for peer-review prior to defending their dissertation and the paper must be accepted for publication before graduation.

    Papers with multiple "first authors" 

    A student who is designated as a co-first-author on a submitted or published paper is considered as the first author for the purposes of meeting the above minimum standards.

    Review articles

    Articles that review the scientific literature, conferences, or the recent findings of others, but do not include original presentations of research carried out by the student, do not meet the above minimum standard even if the article is peer reviewed. 

    Exceptions to the GSBS Minimum Standard Publication Requirement

    In cases where a student has clearly completed an original and significant body of research but unusual delays in the peer review process, or other causes, have prevented the publication of a first-author paper, the student may petition to the Advisory Committee for an exception to the minimum standard.  If the student's Advisory Committee agrees that an exception is warranted, it may recommend this to the GSBS Academic Standards Committee (ASC) for approval.  The Advisory Committee Chair should submit the recommendation in writing  to the GSBS with a rationale for why an exception should be made.  Considerations in making such exceptions will include unusual delays in peer-review, co-authored publications, the originality/quality of the unpublished work, and the best interests of the student.

  • Complete all MD/PhD Program-specific requirements (Before graduation)

    The receipt of the combined MD/PhD degrees requires completion of both components. The MD degree will not be conferred upon MSTP students who have not completed all PhD degree requirements. Timely completion of the PhD is thus required for the on-time entry into a residency program.

  • Complete all degree requirements and remaining exit paperwork (Within 8 years of admission)

    The receipt of the combined MD/PhD degrees requires completion of both components. The MD degree will not be conferred upon MSTP students who have not completed all PhD degree requirements. Timely completion of the PhD is thus required for the on-time entry into a residency program.