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Program Timeline

Normal progress toward the degree refers to the pace at which students are expected to move through a series of milestones necessary to obtain the PhD at a reasonable pace and at the level of performance described in the preceding section.

Under normal circumstances, the established time period in which students are expected to complete requirements for the PhD is five years. This is called the Normative Time. The goal of the UCSD Time to Doctorate Policy and associated time limits is to encourage completion of the PhD in a timely manner, and to stimulate thesis advisors and students to work collaboratively on ensuring that program requirements and other milestones are met.

To complete a dissertation within the Normative Time, a student should adhere to the timeline outlined below, geared toward providing sufficient guidance and intellectual support so each student can advance to candidacy and complete a high quality dissertation within this time.

Year 1

  • Participate in Grad Launch I (BGGN 208)
  • Participate in the Orientation Seminar "Graduate School Fundamentals, Grad Launch II" (BGGN 200)
  • Complete Core Course Sequence, including CORE I, CORE II (2 courses), Bioinformatics, Biostatistics, and Communications.
  • Conduct Four Laboratory Rotations
  • Select Thesis Advisor and begin Thesis Research
  • Begin Comprehensive Exam by June 30 of Year 1

Year 2

  • Continue Thesis Research
  • Participate and present in the Graduate Research Seminar (BGSE 205)
  • Complete Two Four-Unit Elective Courses
  • Participate in the Scientific Ethics Course (BGGN 207)
  • Fulfill first of three Instructional Apprentice Teaching Experiences (BGGN 500)
  • Select Core Doctoral Committee ('Thesis Committee')
  • Schedule Thesis Proposition Examination by June 30 of Year 2

Year 3

  • Continue Thesis Research
  • Participate and present in Graduate Research Seminar (BGSE 205)
  • Fulfill second of three Apprentice Teaching Experiences
  • Select remaining members of Doctoral Committee and advance to Candidacy by June 30 of Year 3, OR:
  • Conduct annual Evaluation Meeting with Core Doctoral Committee

Year 4

  • Continue Thesis Research
  • Present a poster during the Divisional Retreat
  • Participate and present in Graduate Research Seminar (BGSE 205)
  • Fulfill last of three Apprentice Teaching Experiences
  • If not advanced in Year 3, select remaining members of Doctoral Committee and advance to Candidacy by June 30 of Year 4, OR
  • If advanced in Year 3, conduct annual Evaluation Meeting with Final Doctoral Committee

Year 5

  • Complete Thesis Research
  • Conduct Pre-Defense Thesis Evaluation Meeting at annual meeting with Final Doctoral Committee
  • Prepare Doctoral Dissertation (written thesis)
  • Defend Thesis

The Academic Year is generally considered to include October 1 – June 30. A detailed timeline can be found in the Handbook, Section V. Academic Requirements for PhD Degree.

PhD Program Overview of Academic Requirements (General) PhD Program Overview of Academic Requirements (EBE)