Division of Basic Science


During the first semester, students enrolled in the Division participate in the Core Curriculum, which offers an integrated approach to the study of biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, genetics, biological regulation, cell biology, and organismal biology appropriate for students with interests in any area of study. Coursework is supplemented by a rich schedule of seminars offered on wide-ranging topics. A substantial benefit of this approach is to prepare students for the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of biomedical science.

The standard first-year curriculum also includes completion of at least two laboratory rotations, each lasting approximately eight to 10 weeks. A student may select any member of the Division’s faculty as a preceptor for each research rotation. The topics of research rotations can be as similar or wide-ranging as the student wishes. The rotations provide students opportunities to experience different research questions, approaches, and experimental techniques. Overall, the design of the curriculum also fosters exposure to many of our basic-science faculty who participate in one or more of the components of the first-year curriculum. Advice is available to students who desire guidance in choosing faculty mentors with whom to conduct their research.

In order to foster flexibility and allow an informed choice of the most appropriate Program for advanced study, a specific Program and a dissertation research adviser are not selected until the end of rotations.

During the second half of the first semester and subsequent years of study, students immerse themselves in advanced didactic training organized by the faculty of individual Programs and focus on developing a research project. A coordinated design of advanced, specialized course work is another characteristic of the Division’s integrative approach to graduate education. Advanced courses include those with pan-Program appeal, as well as a variety of more specialized courses. Curriculum Committees from all of the Programs work together to ensure the existence of an appropriate range of advanced courses, which are scheduled in a manner to facilitate accessibility. Although the Programs of the Division share a common administrative organization, each is distinct in terms of advanced course work and other degree requirements. Specific information is located in the individual Program descriptions.

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The laboratories of the faculty members of the Division of Basic Science, along with the support laboratories available for their use, provide access for students to the equipment and facilities required for contemporary biomedical research. A central computing facility, animal facilities, an electronic shop, and a comprehensive library are available. There are core research facilities and services for DNA microarray analysis, molecular and cellular imaging, transgenic animals, flow cytometry, structural biology, protein chemistry, mass spectrometry, rapid biochemical kinetics, analytical ultracentrifugation, DNA sequencing, and antibody production.

First-year students are accommodated in a suite of rooms containing a lounge area with kitchen, a conference room, and administrative offices.

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Financial Assistance

All students in the Division of Basic Science are supported during their Ph.D. studies. A competitive stipend adequate to cover living costs, tuition, and health insurance coverage is provided.

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Requirements for Admission

Students wishing to enroll in any of the component Programs should apply to the Division of Basic Science. Applicants must submit a formal application, including a statement of educational and professional goals; a brief description of research experience; transcripts of undergraduate and prior graduate work; and a minimum of three letters of recommendation which must be from professors capable of assessing the applicant’s scientific aptitude.

Foreign students whose native language is not English must submit TOEFL scores. Application information, including direct online application, is available on the UT Southwestern Graduate School website.

Students matriculate in the fall. Successful applicants generally have a GPA above 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Most entering foreign students have had TOEFL scores higher than 100.

Under special circumstances, appropriately qualified students may be admitted to advanced standing in one of the Division’s Programs without taking the first-year core curriculum; for example, a student with equivalent coursework and research experience gained at another institution.

Students enrolled in the Medical Scientist Training Program at UT Southwestern typically are admitted to advanced standing in one of the Programs based on satisfactory completion of the first two years of the Medical School curriculum and completion of the MSTP research rotations.

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General Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

It is a requirement of the Division that students satisfactorily complete a minimum of 21 credit hours of didactic coursework. The Core Curriculum and Ethics modules are to be supplemented by advanced didactic coursework compatible with the student’s Graduate Program of choice. The advanced courses are usually completed by the end of the second year of study and must be completed by the end of the third year. In addition, satisfactory completion of two laboratory-rotations projects is a Division requirement. Graduate Programs specify participation in Journal Clubs and seminars.

Each student must pass a qualifying examination conducted by the relevant Graduate Program. Satisfactory completion of the required coursework, the research rotations and a qualifying examination advances the student to candidacy for the degree. Completion of the dissertation research, its successful defense at an oral examination, and submission to UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences of an approved electronic dissertation complete the requirements for the degree.

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