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Graduate Program

The Cell and Developmental Biology (CDB) Graduate Program is designed to educate and train students to become innovative research scientists and science educators. First-rate research training, at technical and conceptual levels, is the main focus of the CDB Program.

Graduate Program


Course Requirements

Qualifying Exam

Guidelines and Procedures

Students begin their graduate training at Vanderbilt University as a member of an interdepartmental program (Vanderbilt IGP). During the first year of graduate study, students are engaged in course work and also complete a series of laboratory rotations. First year courses provide competency in core biological disciplines and laboratory rotations allow students to identify a thesis mentor. After the first year, students enter the CDB Program if they have chosen to undertake thesis research in a CDB faculty’s laboratory.

Students complete their didactic course requirements over the next year with specialized courses offered by CDB and other departments and they begin to immerse themselves in their thesis research. Students then prepare for and complete the qualifying examination over the next summer and are advanced to Ph.D. candidacy. Students generally spend an additional two to four years completing their thesis research, writing a dissertation and defending it at a public seminar. During their training, students in CDB are provided many opportunities for additional educational experiences including inviting and interacting with eminent scientists, exchanging scientific information with colleagues at informal seminars and journal clubs, and presenting their research at national and international scientific meetings.

The CDB Graduate Program strives to maintain an intellectually stimulating environment in which students are highly prepared for all aspects of their future professions. Progress of students through the CDB Graduate Program is facilitated and monitored by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Program Manager.

Graduates of the CDB Program pursue a range of research and/or teaching careers in academia, biotechnology, or government. Please follow the links for additional information about course requirements and guidelines and procedures of the CDB Graduate Program.

Student Travel Guidelines

In order to facilitate student travel, the BRET office has developed guidelines to help students navigate the process of planning a trip and getting reimbursed for the expenses associated with the travel.  Students in all of our graduate programs are expected to follow these guidelines.  By following these expectations and guidelines, students’ needs will be met in the most efficient manner.

Student travel is handled by Aaron Howard (615-875-9050) in the BRET office. He is located in 340 Light Hall.