Your First Year & Beyond

Can I choose my labs for my three research rotations in the MCDB program, or are they assigned to me?

After meeting with research faculty members, you will make these choices yourself. Some students arrange all three rotations once they arrive in the fall, but others arrange rotations throughout the first year.

Do I have a faculty advisor in the first year?

The faculty mentor for your first rotation will serve as your first-year advisor - a person you can go to for advice and who will talk to you about how you are doing in coursework, research, etc. First-year advisors can be extremely useful in resolving issues and concerns. At the end of the year, once you join a lab, your research mentor will serve as your faculty advisor for all aspects of the program.

Will I have an opportunity to do some teaching?

All of our doctoral students teach for one term, typically in the second or third year, but never in the first year. Students generally assist a faculty member in a lecture or lab course relevant to the student’s thesis work. Thus, teaching is a valuable experience that allows students to grow as educators while refreshing topics important for their research.

What if I am interested in teaching as a profession after I get my degree?

We offer a teaching minor that will prepare you well for this career path. While one term of teaching is effective in preparing students to communicate ideas to broad audiences, professional teachers need more. Our teaching minor consists of a few additional requirements beneficial for students who have chosen this career path.

How long will it take me to earn my Ph.D?

The average time in our department is about 5.5 years, but can be as short as 4 years. This time is variable depending on the time you put into the lab and your field of study. We have tools in place to ensure that students remain focused on their goals and graduate within a reasonable timeframe.