NYMC > Graduate School of Basic Medical Sciences (GSBMS) > GSBMS Academics > Degrees & Programs > Doctor of Philosophy > Cell Biology > Program overview

Program Overview

Doctor of Philosophy

Specific Program Requirements (Hegis Code 0417)

Students may enter the Ph.D. program in one of three ways: (1) via our Integrated Ph.D. Program (IPP), which does not require a declaration of a major until the second year of study, (2) with advanced standing following the completion of one of the Graduate School’s Master’s programs, or (3) highly motivated and talented students from NYMC’s School of Medicine may be admitted to the dual-degree M.D./Ph.D. program.

An average grade of “B” (GPA = 3.00 or better) must be maintained in the required courses. Students choose either Neuroscience (BMSM 1410) or Histology-Cell Biology CBAM 1420) based on their research interests. Elective courses are also selected based upon the student’s interests, in consultation with the Graduate Program Director and research sponsor. To gain teaching experience, students must assist in teaching for one semester in one of the department’s medical school courses (CBAM 8310, 8320, or 8330). To become familiar with on-going research projects, students must attend “Work in Progress” seminars given by faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. Participation in weekly Journal Club (CBAM 8010) and Research Seminar (CBAM 8020) sessions is also required in all years of residence. Research Techniques (CBAM 9200) is taken each semester after completing all first-year research rotations (BMSM 9110 or CBAM 9110) until candidacy is achieved. Once candidacy is achieved, students enroll each semester for doctoral dissertation research (CBAM 9900).

Entry through the Integrated Ph.D. Program or with Advanced Standing

The course requirements for students entering through the Integrated Ph.D. program or with Advanced Standing are the same. Advanced Standing students will add to the courses taken as an NYMC Master's student to complete their Ph.D. degree requirements.

During their first year, students with advanced standing undertake at least two research rotations (CBAM 9110) in different laboratories in order to gain an appreciation of different areas and strategies of investigation and to determine a suitable dissertation advisor. The number of rotations may be reduced based on the student’s prior laboratory experience.

Entry as an M.D./Ph.D. 

The M.D./Ph.D. program overview can be found in the M.D./Ph.D. section of our website.

Qualifying Examination

Following completion of the required core courses, laboratory rotations and the teaching requirement, students take the Qualifying Examination. Usually, these requirements are completed by the end of the second year of the program, by which time the student has chosen a sponsor.

The Qualifying Examination consists of two parts. Part I (Preliminary Exam) consists of essay questions on topics related to the student's projected research interests. In Part II, which usually occurs 6-8 weeks following the successful completion of Part I, the student prepares a research proposal in grant application format on a topic different from the projected thesis research and presents the topic in a seminar to members of the examining committee and the department. The examining committee is made up of three to four members of the Cell Biology and Anatomy faculty and one faculty member from another program.


The student is eligible to enter doctoral candidacy after successful completion of both parts of the Qualifying Exam, the accumulation of at least 32 didactic credits including all the core and other required courses, and the recommendation of the program faculty. M.D./Ph.D. students are eligible for candidacy under the same conditions except that the credit requirement consists only of the required core graduate courses.

Dissertation Committee

The dissertation committee consists of at least five individuals including the student’s sponsor, at least three members of the Cell Biology and Anatomy faculty, a faculty member from another program, and a member from another academic institution. The Committee is chaired by a member other than the student’s sponsor.