Skip to main content

Driskill Graduate Training Program in Life Sciences

Degree Types: PhD

The Walter S. and Lucienne Driskill Graduate Training Program in Life Sciences (DGP) combines graduate study in biochemistry and structural biology, cancer biology, cell biology, developmental biology,, genetics and genomics, immunology, microbiology, neurobiology, pharmacology, systems biology, and biomedical informatics into a single program. More than 140 faculty members are available as dissertation research advisors, and their interests cover a wide range of research in contemporary biomedical and life sciences.

The DGP provides each student the flexibility needed to design a personal course of study, pursue individual research interests, and choose an appropriate thesis advisor. The wide range of research opportunities within the DGP serves students well - both those who enter graduate school committed to a specific research field and those who begin with many potential interests. Flexibility and ease in pursuing diverse interests are the hallmarks of graduate training in the DGP.

Additional resources:

Program Statistics

Visit PhD Program Statistics for statistics such as program admissions, enrollment, student demographics and more.

Degree Requirements

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.


The DGP is a PhD training program; however, there are situations when pursuit of the PhD cannot be completed and therefore an option for a terminal master's degree is provided. This degree option is not used for recruiting or admission purposes. A student seeking this degree, in addition to having successfully completed all required courses and having passed the Qualifying Exam, must have:

  1. completed the thesis proposal process successfully;
  2. held at least one annual thesis committee meeting after the thesis proposal;
  3. completed sufficient research towards their PhD to write a master's thesis. 

PhD students in good academic standing who wish to obtain a terminal master's degree will petition the DGP Program Committee and the Director of the DGP explaining why they cannot complete the PhD program. The Program Committee would consider both the nature of the circumstances as well as the quality of the research in determining whether the student should be allowed to write a thesis and obtain the master's degree. Permission to pursue the degree will only be granted to those students whose body of research could reasonably result in a thesis. Students who are granted permission will submit a master's degree thesis to a committee comprised of members of their original PhD thesis committee and an ex officio member from the Program Committee. An oral defense will also be required. The committee will determine whether the written document and oral defense are sufficient to warrant the degree. There is no publication requirement.


Total Units Required: 9

Course Title
Required Courses
Core Courses (Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Statistics; 4 units)
Elective courses (4 units)
Lab Rotations (1 unit)
Noncredit Required Courses (2 courses required)
DGP 494-0Colloqium on Integrity in Biomedical Research
DGP 496-1Introduction to Life Science Research

Other PhD Degree Requirements

  • Examinations: qualifying examinations during second year of study
  • Research/Projects: laboratory research based on dissertation research proposal
  • Thesis prospectus: written thesis proposal and presentation to thesis committee in fall of second year
  • PhD Dissertation: written dissertation; annual presentation of research-in-progress to Thesis Committee
  • Final Evaluations: dissertation defense consisting of written dissertation, public presentation of research accomplishments and oral defense of dissertation to Thesis Committee
  • Publication: of a portion of thesis work in a peer-reviewed journal
  • Teaching: one quarter as a teaching assistant
  • Other: three laboratory rotations in first year, intended to assist student in selecting dissertation research advisors; regular participation in seminars and journal clubs; teaching assignment one quarter in third year

Last Updated: August 26, 2021