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Cell and Molecular Biology Ph.D. Program

 

Program Characteristics and Curriculum

The UTSA CMB Ph.D. program has been in place since 2003 and has graduated more than 45 students with Ph.D. degrees. Most of these graduates have progressed into postdoctoral research positions at prestigious universities or research facilities. UTSA CMB Ph.D. students typically publish 2-3 original, first-author papers describing their dissertation research, and these articles have appeared in top-ranked journals in all fields of cell and molecular biology. The UTSA CMB Ph.D. program spans a wide range of faculty research interests which provide extensive and varied opportunities for student training. Descriptions of research interests of individual CMB Ph.D. program faculty can be found here.

The UTSA CMB Ph.D. program of study includes required core courses including Principles of Cell Biology, Principles of Molecular Biology, Principles in Chemical Biology, and Principles of Scientific Writing. In addition, students experience a minimum of one semester of teaching (as a teaching assistant) for which they receive academic credit for Teaching in the Life Sciences. Three electives provide students an opportunity to take additional lecture courses in their specific areas of interest, and participation in a colloquium each semester affords students yet another opportunity to learn more about their subfield of interest as well as providing experience in oral presentations. Doctoral Research and Doctoral Dissertation credit is given for effort directed toward completion of the student’s dissertation research project.

Curriculum

The curriculum is highly structured to facilitate efficient matriculation during a student’s tenure in the program. The order of courses is shown below. This structured format ensures that students progress in an efficient and timely manner. The program is designed on the basis of a five-year schedule; however, some CMB Ph.D. students have completed the curriculum in as few as four years.

The qualifying exam requirement is fulfilled in two parts – a set of written qualifying exams taken during the first year in the program in association with the Cell Biology and Molecular Biology core courses, and an oral qualifying exam taken in the spring of the second year in the program based on the student’s dissertation research proposal.

An annual CMB Spring Symposium features presentations by second-fifth year CMB Ph.D. students describing progress toward their dissertation research projects and providing additional valuable experience to develop oral presentation skills.

A full-length professional seminar is presented by each CMB Ph.D. student prior to graduation. These seminars are presented in either the Cell & Molecular Biology Seminar Series or the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Seminar Series.

The five-year CMB Ph.D. program curriculum is summarized below.

Year

Fall Semester

Spring Semester

1

BIO 5133 Principles of Cell Biology (3 hr)
BIO 7041 Cell BIO QE* Colloquium (1 hr)
BIO 5213 Principles of Chemical Biology (3 hr)
BIO 7572 Research Rotation (2 hr)

*Written Qualifying Exam

BIO 5123 Principles of Molecular Biology (3 hr)
BIO 7041 Mol Bio BIO QE* Colloquium (1 hr)
BIO 5000-7000 Level Elective Course (3 hr)
BIO 7572 Research Rotation (2 hr)

*Written Qualifying Exam

  • Written Qualifying Requirement to be completed by May 30
  • Student selects a Dissertation Laboratory no later than August 20, but preferably by June 1
    (if necessary, a final research rotation can be done during the summer)
  • All students must submit progress reports by May 30

2

BIO 7143 Principles of Sci. Writing (3 hr)
BIO 7113 Teaching in Life Sciences* (3 hr)
BIO 7041 Colloquium (1 hr)
BIO 7212 Doctoral Research

*Can be taken in Fall or Spring semester

Elective (3 hr)
Elective* (3 hr)
BIO 7041 Colloquium (1 hr)
BIO 7212 Doctoral Research

*Can be taken during Fall or Spring semester or deferred until third year

  • Submit written dissertation proposal as application for extramural funding
  • Oral Qualifying Exam will be completed by May 30 of second year
  • Advancement to candidacy
  • All students must submit progress reports by May 30

3

Elective* (3 hr)
BIO 7313 Doctoral Dissertation (3 hr)
BIO 7312 Doctoral Dissertation (2 hr)
BIO 7041 Colloquium (1 hr)

*If deferred taking until third year

BIO 7313 Doctoral Dissertation (3 hr)
BIO 7313 Doctoral Dissertation (3 hr)
BIO 7312 Doctoral Dissertation (2 hr)
BIO 7041 Colloquium (1 hr)

  • All students must submit progress reports by May 30

4

BIO 7313 Doctoral Dissertation (3 hr)
BIO 7313 Doctoral Dissertation (3 hr)
BIO 7312 Doctoral Dissertation (2 hr)
BIO 7041 Colloquium (1 hr)

BIO 7313 Doctoral Dissertation (3 hr)
BIO 7313 Doctoral Dissertation (3 hr)
BIO 7312 Doctoral Dissertation (2 hr)
BIO 7041 Colloquium (1 hr)

  • All students must submit progress reports by May 30

5

BIO 7313 Doctoral Dissertation (3 hr)
BIO 7313 Doctoral Dissertation (3 hr)
BIO 7312 Doctoral Dissertation (2 hr)
BIO 7041 Colloquium (1 hr)

BIO 7313 Doctoral Dissertation (3 hr)
BIO 7313 Doctoral Dissertation (3 hr)
BIO 7312 Doctoral Dissertation (2 hr)
BIO 7041 Colloquium (1 hr)

  • Dissertation Defense
  • All students must submit progress reports by May 30

Summer Coursework:
Students will enroll in BIO 7212 Doctoral Research (3 hr) during each summer following years 1 and 2.
Students will enroll in BIO 7313 Doctoral Dissertation (3 hr) following years 3 and 4 and, if necessary, year 5.

 

Specialized Tracks

There are two specialized tracks within the CMB Ph.D. program – the Molecular Microbiology & Immunology Track and the Stem Cell Biology Track. Students enrolled in the CMB Ph.D. program may opt to follow one of the specialized tracks or may choose to follow the general CMB Ph.D. program curriculum. Both tracks require the same standard core requirements of the CMB Ph.D. program. Each track requires that students following that track take electives and colloquia focused on the topic area of the relevant track and pursue their dissertation research on a topic related to the relevant track (click here for details of each specialized track).