Cell Biology Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Three students standing arm-in-arm, celebrating candidacy in Fall 2022.

UVa Graduate Record

The UVa Graduate Record is the official repository for current information regarding degree requirements and School of Medicine academic policies and procedures.  The information on this page is provided as a guide for your convenience.

Year 1: BIMS

Immediately preceding the first year of study, students typically enroll for Summer Session and complete a summer rotation between July 1 and August 15. During the first year of study, all Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) students are required to enroll in the Core Course in Integrative Biosciences (BIMS 6000), complete three lab rotations and an approved program of advanced course modules. The advanced course of study varies considerably among students, as it is based on the particular research interest of individual students.  All BIMS students select the dissertation lab and PhD course of study in February of the first year.


BIMS 8995: Topical Research (Rotation 1: July 1 – August 15)


BIMS 6000: Core Course in Integrative Bioscience (August – September)
BIMS 8995: Topical Research (Rotation 2: October – November)
     continue BIMS 6000: Core Course in Integrative Bioscience (November – December)


BIMS 8995 – Topical Research (Rotation 3: January – February)
Transition to Cell Biology PhD in February

BIMS 7100 – Research Ethics (required)
CELL 8301 – Advanced Topics in Cell Biology (required)
2-3 Elective Modules (optional; to match scientific direction)

Year 2 - Cell Biology PhD training

In the Spring semester of the second year, students who have elected to matriculate in the Cell Biology PhD program are required to write a dissertation research proposal and then successfully defend it as an oral illustrated (PPT) presentation, as qualification to advance to candidacy.


CELL 8450 – Effective science writing for grants and fellowships (required)
CELL 8101 – Introduction to Animal Development (required)
2-3 Elective Modules (optional; to match scientific direction)

Recommended elective modules

CELL 8401 – The Essentials of Translational Science (Spring)
BIMS 8380/8382 – Practical Biomedical Stats I & II (requirement of some training grant appts)
Alternative options

Year 3 to final semester - Cell Biology PhD training


Successful progression of dissertation research
Semiannual committee meetings (for faster time to degree)
Publish at least one 1st author paper


Present at national and international meetings/conferences as advised by mentor


Audit or co-teach one of the BIMS modules (with mentor or other faculty member(s))
Participate in PhD+ or similar programming offered by the UVA Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affiars

Final Semester (Graduation)


Apply for Graduation
Private Dissertation Defense
Public Dissertation Seminar