Doctoral Program Requirements

University Requirements

phd_requirementsThe degree of Doctor of Philosophy is awarded to students based on an accumulation of course credits and on superior accomplishments in a field of cell biology, molecular biology, developmental biology and/or neurobiology. A minimum of one year of full-time study in residence at Tulane University is required. The Ph.D. degree must be completed within 7 years from the date of matriculation in the graduate school. Graduate students beyond their 5th year are no longer eligible to receive teaching assistant stipends. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be maintained. If a student receives 2 grades of B- or a single grade below a B-, then he/she is placed on probation and considered for dismissal by the Graduate Dean in consultation with the Department.

To be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D., a student must have completed course requirements and passed a qualifying examination. The qualifying exam, which is taken prior to the end of the 5th semester, consists of a written research proposal in the form of an NIH or NSF grant proposal (agreed upon by the dissertation committee), followed by an oral defense of the proposal. The qualifying exam may be postponed to the end of the 5th semester under certain circumstances with the approval of the student’s advisor and thesis committee. By the end of the third year, each student must submit to the graduate school a written research prospectus, which has been presented to and approved by the student's dissertation committee. The recommendation for admission to candidacy is made by the department and must bear the signatures of the department chair and the chair of the dissertation committee. For students expecting to receive a degree in December, recommendation for the admission to candidacy must be submitted by September 15. For students expecting to receive a degree in May the deadline is December 15.

CMB Course Requirements

1. Remedial Courses Prior to the beginning of the fall semester every incoming graduate student will meet with the graduate director to discuss the appropriate course work for the first year. Students are expected to have strong backgrounds in the basic sciences (physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics) as well as in genetics, cell biology and molecular biology. The Committee will determine if any weak areas exist and may require the student to take additional undergraduate courses to rectify any deficiencies. Such course credits will not count towards a higher degree. In addition, individual faculty advisors or the graduate director may recommend that students take other course work. For foreign students, this may include an English language course.

2. Graduate Core The graduate core is a group of 3 to 4 courses required of all graduate students. The aim is to provide a basic core of knowledge in the general areas of cell and molecular biology.

CMB PhD Program Guidelines

1. Students will complete 48 credit hours of course work with at least a 3.0 GPA (FIRM). Credit hours should be complete by the end of second year (4th semester).

2. Core required courses include: Cell Biology CELL 6750, CMB seminar CELL 7860 (Select Ph.D. section), Advanced Molecular Biology (CELL 6440) and a journal club course – either Trends in Neuroscience (NSCI 6040) or Current Topics in Developmental Biology. Students in labs of adjunct faculty may attend the seminar series of their PI’s home department and a more appropriate journal club if one exists. Seminar summaries should be sent to the graduate program coordinator.

3. Students should form a committee by the end of their 4th semester or beginning of their 5th semester. Committees should consist of at least 4 full-time faculty members, including the primary PI, who serves as the committee chair. Students working with adjunct faculty should include at least one person on the primary CMB faculty on their committee.

4. Students should pass a qualifying exam by the end of the 5th semester. Qualifying exam should consist of an NIH type fellowship ( and oral defense. The purpose of the qualifying exam is to test the student’s overall knowledge of the subject area and ability to develop hypotheses and design experiments to test the hypothesis. The committee should decide specifics of the exam format, for example, whether the grant is to be written within the students’research topic area or a related area. Failure to complete the qualifying exam by the end of the fifth semester or beginning of the sixth semester will result in probation status PhD program. Special exceptions will be granted with the approval of the PhD program committee.

5. Ethics course should be taken before qualifying exam. Courses are offered downtown over the summer.

6. Admission to candidacy is granted when 48 credit hours are complete and qualifying exam is passed.

7. Students in their third year and above are required to present in an annual ‘Works in Progress’ during the CMB seminar series.

8. Students should pass a prospectus by the end of the student’s 4th year (8th semester). The prospectus is the agreement between the student and committee of the experiments that will be completed before the dissertation defense.

9. Annual meetings of the committee to report research progress are required. Meetings should be completed by the end of the spring semester. Annual progress report forms (in CMB office) should be signed by the committee members and given to the CMB office (starting in spring of 2013).

10. Formal dissertation defense is required to complete the PhD degree (no firm deadline, but before completion of 7th year).

Please use the following numbers to register for research. (STUDENTS MUST REGISTER FOR 7110-7130 IN THE DEPARTMENT OFFICE. 2000 STERN HALL)
CELL 7110 – first semester (3 credits)
CELL 7120 – second semester (3 credits)
CELL 7130 – after the second semester until you have received 48 credit hours. 7130 can be taken for 2-10 credits. The number of credits in this section will depend on the amount necessary to achieve full-time status. (FULL TIME STATUS FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS IS 9 CREDITS)

School of Science and Engineering, 201 Lindy Boggs Center, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5764