Academic Program

The Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences at City of Hope offers a rigorous program of coursework and laboratory research culminating in a Ph.D. degree. The goal is to develop professionally-trained scientists, prepared for a career in academic, medical or industrial research. Time to complete the program varies, depending on a student’s previous experience and the dissertation project chosen. On arrival, each student is assigned a faculty advisor to evaluate his or her academic and research progress.

The First Year

During the first year, the student must complete:

  •  Core Curriculum
  •  Three laboratory rotations (approximately 8 weeks each). Students are required to write reports and provide oral presentations for each lab rotation.
  •  Two Leading-Edge Lecture Seminars


The Core Curriculum is the main lecture requirement. It consists of seven courses, one lab and an advanced topic course.

  • Biochemistry and Structural Biology
  • Biostatistics and Computational Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Concepts in Molecular Genetics Laboratory
  • Fundamentals of Scientific Research
  • Molecular Biology and Genetics: Principles of Gene Expression
  • Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Rigor and Reproducibility
  • Scientific Writing
Learning Outcomes
  • Graduates have general knowledge of the biomedical sciences.
  • Graduates ask meaningful questions and display critical thinking.
  • Graduates make significant, original contributions to biomedical research.
  • Graduates possess the professional skills required for success as scientists.

Laboratory Education is the foundation of the Ph.D. program. The lab rotations enable the student to focus on a research topic and mentor.

The Leading-Edge Lecture Series is a student-run endeavor. Each year the students select eight biomedical scientists to present a research seminar. Before each talk, the students and a faculty administrator will meet for a presentation and discussion session. Here, a student sponsor will summarize one or two of the most relevant articles by the invited scientist and lead a discussion of the techniques and data with the other students. Students will then attend the seminar and lead the question and answer session that follows. First-year students are required to attend at least two Leading-Edge Lecture events.

At the end of the first year, students are required to write a short proposal based on the Fundamentals of Scientific Research course. They then prepare and orally defend a research proposal based on an original topic unrelated to previous work conducted by the student.

Requirements After the First Year

  • Take two additional advanced topic courses.
  • Join at least one journal club to review current literature.
  • Attend at least six Leading Edge Lecture seminars.
  • Pass the Qualifying Exam I - Research Proposal.
  • Pass the Qualifying Exam II - Thesis Proposal.
  • Present an oral and written thesis/dissertation for examination by three members of City of Hope faculty and one qualified member from an outside institution.


Policies, Credits and Grading

Find information on semester credits for coursework and research, dissertation requirements, grade requirements, and other administrative policies and procedures here.

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