PhD in Molecular Genetics and Genomics

The PhD In Molecular Genetics and Genomics is a challenging, research-intensive graduate program which prepares students for careers in academia or industry and emphasizes eukaryotic molecular and cellular biology with applications in genetics and molecular medicine.

Doctoral candidates receive intensive laboratory training, working closely with faculty on projects at the forefront of biomedical research. The first year is spent taking the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences core curriculum and completing laboratory rotations to sample the research environment in laboratories of potential interest to them. The core curriculum provides students with a solid foundation in the areas of molecular and cellular biology and genetics. By the end of the first year, students begin thesis research, completing additional coursework tailored to their background and area of research in their second year.

Students also participate in the Center’s seminar series that covers the breadth of research areas in current molecular biology, molecular medicine, and genetics.

Program Overview

90 credit hours in didactic and laboratory course work is required, including

Interdisciplinary Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBS 7015)

Responsible Conduct of Research (GS 0900)

Complete course work (major courses designated for the MGG degree plus electives)

Original research upon reaching doctoral candidate status (MGG 9990, 9991, 9992, 9993, 9994)

A typical program timeline is here

Questions about the program?

For general questions and more informtion about how to apply, please see the FAQs or contact the CMMG Program Coordinator, Ms. Suzanne Shaw at 313-577-5325 or If you would like to talk with our Graduate Officer Professor Russell Finley, Ph.D. about the program please feel free to contact him at

Financial Support

Ph.D. students in good standing are funded by a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) that includes a competitive stipend, paid tuition, and subsidized medical insurance. 

Research Training and Laboratory Rotations

During the Fall and Winter terms of their first year students complete three laboratory rotations. The goal of these rotations is to select a PhD advisor, develop working relationships with different faculty, and learn scientific techniques. Students receive a grade for each rotation. The overall grade will be the average of the three rotation grades and will be credited to MGG 7460 in the Winter term. Correcting for holidays and Spring break, each rotation is approximately 10 weeks long.

Students are supported by Graduate Research Assistantships, which means that there are no teaching requirements. Students are therefore expected to spend the maximum amount of time in the lab, as determined by the faculty member. Near the end of each rotation students will give a 10-minute oral presentation on each rotation in the Research Conference series.

At the end of the third rotation all students will communicate their choice of PhD training laboratory to the respective faculty member and to the Graduate Director. All student-faculty matches must be approved by a vote of the CMMG faculty.

CMMG Seminars and Research Conferences

Students are required to attend all CMMG seminars and Research Conferences for the duration of their studies. Excuses in advance of an absence must be reported to the Graduate Director.

Each student will be required to give one presentation each year in the Research Conference series beginning in the second year. No course credit is given for these presentations. Students are encouraged to invite the members of their dissertation committee to attend their presentation, and schedule their yearly committee meeting to follow shortly after the presentation. The outcome of this meeting is reported to the Graduate Director using the dissertation meeting report form.

Timeline for Required Coursework and Advancing to PhD Candidacy

MGG students register for 10 credit hours in the Fall, 10 credit hours in the Winter and 2 credit hours in the Spring/Summer terms.

Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA to retain their Graduate Research Assistantship. A grade of B- in a required course is considered passing. A grade of C+ or lower in any required course is considered failing. More than two C grades in general course work will be grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.

At the end of the first year students select an advisor and a laboratory in which to do their dissertation research, file a Plan of Work developed in consultation with the Graduate Director and advisor, and then complete the Written Qualifying Exam.

At the end of the second year, students complete a written Dissertation Prospectus (a proposal for their dissertation research), and defend the proposal at an Oral Examination/Prospectus Meeting. Upon successful completion of the Oral Examination/Prospectus Meeting, students advance to Ph.D. Candidacy. 

After advancing to Candidate Status, students are required to enroll for 4 successive Fall/Winter terms as Candidate Status in MGG 9991, 9992, 9993, 9994.  If the dissertation is not completed after 4 terms the student will enroll in Maintenance Status, MGG 9995.


  Credits Term Year
IBS 7015 Interdisciplinary Cell & Molecular Biology 7 Fall 1
MGG 7015 Introduction to Genetics 2 Fall 1
MGG 7460 Research Training (rotations) 1 Fall 1
GS 0900 Responsible Conduct of Research 0 Fall 1
MGG/IBS 7030 Functional Genomics & Systems Biology 2 Winter 1
MGG 7600 Advanced Human Genetics 4 Winter 1
MGG 7050 Bioinformatics 3 Winter 1
MGG 7460 Research Training (rotations) 1 Winter 1
Select Advisor, File Plan of Work   Spring/Summer 1
Complete Written Qualifying Exam   Spring/Summer 1
MGG 7460 Research Training 2 Summer 1
FPH 7015 Biostatistics 4 Fall 2
Elective 3 Fall 2
MGG 7460 Research Training 3 Fall 2
MGG 7460 Research Training 2 Summer 2
MGG 7091 Scientific Communication II 2 Winter 2
Electives 2-3 Winter 2
MGG 7460 Research Training 5-6 Winter 2
Dissertation Committee formed   Winter 2
Complete Dissertation Prospectus/ Oral Examination   Spring/Summer 2
Advance to Candidacy Status   Spring/Summer 2
MGG 9991, 9992, 9993, 9994 Candidate Status 30 Fall/Winter 3-4
MGG 9995   Fall/Winter >4

Molecular Genetics and Genomics (MGG) Course Requirements

During their first 2 years, MGG students enroll in the following core courses.

MGG 7015 Introduction to Genetics (Cr. 2)

MGG 7030 Functional Genomics and Systems Biology (IBS 7030) (Cr. 2)

MGG 7600 Advanced Human Genetics (Cr. 4)

MGG 7050 Bioinformatics: Theory and Practice (Cr. 3)

MGG 7091 Scientific Communication II (Cr. 2)

MGG 7460 Research Training in Molecular Genetics and Genomics (Cr. variable)

FPH 7015 Biostatistics (Cr. 4)

Examples of Elective Courses

MGG 7020 Metabolism and Disease (Cr. 2)

MGG 7400 Molecular Biology of Cellular Signaling (Cr. 2)

MGG 8010 Quantitative Data Analysis for Biological and Medical Sciences (Cr. 3)

MGG 8680 Advanced Topics in Molecular Biology and Genetics (Cr. 1-3)

MGG 8770 Molecular Biology of Mitochondrial Disease (Cr. 2)

IBS 7030 Functional Genomics and Systems Biology (Cr. 2)

IBS 7050 Biomedical Neurobiology (Cr. 2)

IBS 7090 Biomedical Immunology (Cr. 2)

IBS 7100 Biomedical Neuropharmacology (Cr. 2)

IBS 7110 Introduction to the Business of Biotechnology (Cr. 2)

IBS 7115 Special Topics in Biotechnology Commercialization (Cr. 1)

IBS 7140 Foundations of Computational Biology (Cr. 3)