What is graduate school in Genetics like? You'll hopefully look to the fellow members of your cohort for support and camaraderie as you take classes, study for exams, and apply for outside fellowships. More senior graduate students will be invaluable resources in helping you choose a lab. During your first semester you will rotate through three different labs, and at the end of your first semester you will choose a major advisor. This is a busy year as you try to balance studying, doing research, and finding your way in a new environment. In addition to your own work, you also need to start actively contributing to the intellectual life of the department by attending departmental and student seminars and helping to recruit the next generation of graduate students and faculty.
In the fall of your second year, you will formulate and meet with your dissertation advisory committee to discuss which additional courses you might take and to discuss your research project and progress to date. This is the first of regular annual meetings with your committee. Starting this year, you will be expected to present your research by giving a student seminar. You may also fulfill your teaching requirement this year; all graduate students must serve as teaching assistants for either Introductory Genetics or Evolution for at least one semester of their graduate tenure, regardless of their financial support.
In the spring of your second year, you will take your comprehensive qualifying exam. Your written exam takes the form of a dissertation research proposal, and this is followed by an oral exam with your dissertation advisory committee. Once you pass these exams you will be "admitted to candidacy," and can focus on research.
The final three years of graduate school become increasingly focused on research. Most students present their research at national scientific meetings, and we encourage you to write up and submit your results for publication. Discussing your long-term career plans with your advisor and other mentors will help identify opportunities such as internships that will help you gain additional skills. In order to finish graduate school, each student must write and defend a dissertation by presenting a public seminar and answering pertinent questions during a final committee meeting.