NYMC > Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBMS) > GSBMS Academics > Degrees & Programs > Doctor of Philosophy

Doctor of Philosophy

The Ph.D. degree is the highest academic degree granted by American universities. It is a research degree, in contrast to "professional" degrees such as M.D., Ed.D., or J.D. It is awarded to individuals who demonstrate both a mastery of the current knowledge in the discipline of study and also the ability to employ state-of-the-art techniques to advance the knowledge in that field.

Some interesting facts about the Graduate School’s Ph.D. program:

  • It is designed to prepare graduates for careers as independent researchers or as leaders in academia, industry, or government.
  • It requires 30-37 didactic course credits plus ongoing research training.
  • Students must pass a comprehensive qualifying exam before advancing to the dissertation phase of the program.
  • Each successful Ph.D. candidate must undertake and complete original laboratory research under the guidance of a graduate faculty mentor, and write and defend a doctoral dissertation based on this work.
  • The program may be completed in as few as four years, although typical completion time is five to six years.
  • 61% of our Ph.D. candidates are women.
  • 24% of our Ph.D. candidates have self-reported as part of a group currently underrepresented in the sciences. 

Students enter via our Integrated Ph.D. Program (IPP), which does not require a declaration of a major until the second year of study. NYMC students may enter with advanced standing following the completion of one of the Graduate School’s Master’s programs. In addition, highly motivated and talented students from NYMC’s School of Medicine may be admitted to the dual-degree M.D./Ph.D. program.

Ph.D. degrees are awarded in six disciplines:

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is awarded after the satisfactory completion of certain minimum requirements specified by the Graduate School. Each program has specific requirements for course work and examinations and are described in the individual program sections. The general degree requirements of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences are outlined below.  

Didactic credits are earned in courses in which a formal evaluation mechanism (examination, graded term paper, etc.) allows assignment of a letter grade. Lecture-based courses usually fall into this category, as do certain independent study courses such as directed readings or tutorial courses.

Pass/Fail courses are graded solely on the basis of the student's effort or participation and/or subjective evaluation by the faculty. Journal clubs, seminar courses, and research rotations are usually graded on a pass/fail basis.

Elective credit requirements in all programs may only be met by didactic (letter-graded) courses unless specified otherwise. Programs may further restrict fulfillment of the elective credit requirement to advanced courses or courses in only certain topical areas or disciplines.

Students with prior credit in graduate courses that are equivalent in topic coverage to specific program requirements may petition a waiver of those specific requirements. If the request is granted by the program director and approved by the dean, the waived credits must be replaced by an equal number of didactic credits by transfer or in residence.

An overall Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 or better is required before a degree can be awarded. In some programs, there are additional minimal GPA standards, such as requiring a GPA of 3.00 or better in specific core courses. Although C is a passing grade, programs may require a higher minimum acceptable grade in certain courses in order for those credits to be used to fulfill program requirements.

Qualifying Examination

The student is expected to take the Qualifying Exam at the end of the second year. Please refer to the PhD Qualifying Examination Policy for specific details about the format, etc.


The student is considered a doctoral candidate when he or she has passed the Qualifying Examination, has earned at least 32 didactic (letter-graded) credits including all the required courses, and has been recommended for candidacy by the program faculty. M.D./Ph.D. students are eligible for candidacy under the same conditions except that the credit requirement consists only of the required graduate courses. 

Dissertation Committee

Students must choose a thesis and form a dissertation committee within a year after candidacy. Please consult the PhD Advisory Committee Policy for the composition of the committee. The student should present a dissertation research proposal to this committee within 3 months upon formation of the committee. Subsequent committee meetings can be requested by the thesis advisor, committee chairperson, or the student. A written progress report should be presented to the committee at least once each year. Upon approval of the committee, the student may write the dissertation and defend it before the committee and the department.