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Selection of an Admission Program in the Biomedical Sciences

The training programs in the Biomedical Sciences at Vanderbilt University are designed to prepare students with the foundational knowledge required in each discipline and to hone the analytical skills necessary for conducting insightful and creative research. Didactic coursework in the fall semester provides competency-based training in core disciplines that serve as a prerequisite for performing life-long cutting-edge research in the molecular and cellular sciences. Small group discussion sections complement didactic training to learn how to critically analyze the primary literature and to fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of the major experimental approaches that underlie discovery-based science. Entry into the Ph.D. programs in the Biomedical Sciences at Vanderbilt is designed to provide a personalized, flexible approach to accommodate a wide range of educational backgrounds and specific interests via three choices:

1. Students with traditional backgrounds in biology and/or chemistry should apply to the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP).  The IGP is an interdepartmental program encompassing 11 graduate programs. IGP students take the fall foundational course described above followed by individually tailored, specialized modules and electives in the spring semester. Students rotate through four laboratories during the first academic year to identify a thesis project and mentors. Rotation choices provide the flexibility to sample laboratories in completely different fields or conduct all 4 rotations within the same discipline.

2. Students with educational backgrounds in the quantitative sciences such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, or computer sciences should apply to the Quantitative and Chemical Biology (QCB) Program. QCB is a multidisciplinary program introducing elements of biology to students with backgrounds in the quantitative sciences wishing to pursue a doctoral degree at the interface of the chemical, physical, and biological sciences. The curriculum prepares students for research careers in chemical biology, imaging sciences, molecular and cellular biophysics, or structural biology through 14 participating departments and programs. Previous didactic training in the biological sciences is not required for entry into the QCB.

3. The majority of candidates seeking training in the Biomedical Sciences at Vanderbilt will find the IGP or QCB programs ideal for developing skills needed for lifelong, evolving research careers. However, if the descriptions of the IGP and QCB programs do not fit your immediate training or long term career goals, please contact Dr. Stephanie Richards ( or 615-343-6111) to discuss how Vanderbilt can meet your needs for graduate education.

Please contact Stephanie Richards if you have questions regarding which admissions program is the best fit for you: or 615-343-6111.

Students interested in pursuing an M.D./Ph.D. in this area may seek entry into the department through the Medical Scientist Training Program

Note: We do not admit students seeking a master’s degree in this area.