Ph.D. Curriculum

The Division of Graduate Medical Sciences (GMS) at Boston University is committed to providing students with all the tools and resources necessary to excel in biomedical research and beyond.  This means we consider not just what we teach, but how best to teach it.  We consider what knowledge, skills and experiences best prepare our students for the opportunities and challenges that await them.

Students can choose from several curriculum options during their early didactic years depending on their path of entry as indicted below.  All students have the opportunity to  participate in a  Mentoring Program that focuses on professional development  activities ranging from seminars and workshops to classes for credit.  This program  can be explored throughout a student’s tenure in GMS regardless of the student’s department/program affiliation.  Additionally, many of our faculty are affiliated with multiple graduate programs thereby providing each student the opportunity to work within a broader research community.

Curriculum:  GMS Program in Biomedical Sciences (PiBS) Portal to 10  Ph.D. Degree Options

Foundations in Biomedical Sciences (FiBS): Students who have entered through PiBS   participate in an integrated FiBS curriculum with content coordinated across courses, programs and departments. The core curriculum spans 1.5 semesters.  The FiBS  core modules (each 2 cr)  include (i) Protein Structure, Catalysis & Interaction, (ii) Structure and Function of the Genome, (iii) Architecture & Dynamics of the Cell and (iv) Mechanisms of Cell Communication while elective modules include (i) Translational Genetics and Genomics, (ii) Molecular Metabolism, (iii)Physiology of Specialized Cells as well as Program specific modules such as (iv) Comprehensive Immunology and (v) Concepts in Virology.  All graduate students  (not just students entering through the PiBS pathway) are eligible to enroll in FiBS modular courses.  Additionally, trainees  experience laboratory rotations and engage in journal clubs and research seminars.   After students select a laboratory for their dissertation research, students will join the department/program with which the mentor is affiliated and continue  towards Ph.D. candidacy in that discipline.

Curriculum: University-Wide Graduate Program in Neuroscience (GPN)

Graduate Program in Neurosciences: Most students take 28 credits of required study,  including laboratory rotations and clinical rounds, as well as fulfill the 64 credit requirement for the Ph.D. by participating in student seminars, attending GPN-sponsored activities such as the distinguished lecture series and the neuroscience retreat, and completing directed study with their dissertation research mentor. During the first year, GPN students take 14 credits of core coursework that cover the diverse field of neuroscience, from molecular to cellular, systems to human cognition, and  computational modeling that is tuned to the specific background of individual students. Students participate in “Frontiers in Neuroscience,”  sharing lunch each week with a member of the broad group of faculty that make up the neuroscience community.

Curriculum:  Direct-Entry Through a Department/Program

Anatomy and Neurobiology: The program provides an opportunity for graduate students interested in systems neuroscience, applied anatomy, and/or a career in teaching  to earn a degree in Anatomy and Neurobiology through one of three tracks, (i) Anatomy, (ii) Anatomy and Neurobiology and (iii) Neurobiology. All students take the core courses: Experimental Design and Statistical Method/Elementary Biostatistics, Journal Club and Professional Skills for Students in Biomedical Sciences followed by classes specific to their track  thereby allowing students to personalize their graduate program.

Behavioral Neurosciences:  The Behavioral Neuroscience Ph.D. Program provides a unique translational link between cutting-edge research and its emphasis on medical patient care with a focus on human neurobehavioral disorders in relation to brain structure and functioning. The required core courses are intended to provide students with a firm foundation in basic principles and methods of Experimental Neuropsychology.  Core courses include Human Neuropsychology Seminar I/II, Basic Neurosciences, Neuropsychological Assessment I and Functional Neuroanatomy in Neuropsychology. Each candidate must fulfill minimum core requirements as well as corresponding courses relevant to their major area of specialization.  Students will also complete laboratory rotations during their first year.

Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics: All biomolecular pharmacology students share a set of foundational coursework that covers a broad range of basic disciplines from the synthesis and function of molecules in cells to the physiology of systems necessary to sustain life in behaving organisms. The curriculum  is designed to provide a broad-based foundation in pharmacology, as well as flexible opportunities to individually tailor a program that meets the student’s background and research interests.  Most students will first choose basic courses in biochemistry, neurosciences, biostatistics, physiology, and pharmacology . These courses provide both the background study in the underlying basic sciences and an  overview of the discipline of pharmacology.