You are here

PhD Program Requirements

At the University of Arizona, the Graduate College sets the overall framework for the completion of the doctoral degree. Within these guidelines, the Physiological Sciences Program establishes specific requirements and monitors student progress to ensure:

  • Sufficient breadth of knowledge in Physiological Sciences
  • Sufficient depth of knowledge in the students area of specialty
  • Rigorous research training
  • Training in career skills (writing, speaking, critical evaluation of the literature)
  • Training in teaching skills

General Overview

Typically, successful completion of the Doctoral program takes 4.5 to 5 years of study. Doctoral students must complete 36 units of graduate-level coursework. 18 units must be in the major subject area, must be taken for a letter-grade, and must be courses at the 500-level or greater.

Students must maintain a grade point average of 3.00 (letter grade of B) or better to receive financial support and to be awarded a Ph.D. degree. All students in the Doctoral degree program are also expected to comply with the regulations of the Graduate College with respect to residence, credit hour requirements, and the qualifying and comprehensive examinations (please refer to the Graduate College Policies for more information).

With the input of their advisor, Doctoral students will also develop a minor area of study based upon the student's research goals or particular interests. The minor is satisfied with 9 units of relevant coursework, and must be completed before the student takes their Comprehensive Exams.

In addition, the Doctoral Program requires that each student completes a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 4 laboratory rotations within their first academic year. Furthermore, each Doctoral student must take a course in Ethics, take a course in Statistics, and complete a semester as a teaching assistant to gain experience as a teacher.

At the beginning of their second academic year, Doctoral students form a Comprehensive Committee and, by the end of that academic year, they must pass their written and oral Comprehensive Exams based upon their coursework in the major and minor areas of study.

After a successful performance on the Comprehensive Exams, the Doctoral student will form a Dissertation Committee and complete their dissertation project to earn the Ph.D. degree.

Coursework: Major Area of Study

The Doctoral program requires that all students complete the following courses:

  • PSIO 503 - Cellular and Molecular Physiology  (6 units, Fall Semester only)
  • PSIO 603A - Systems Physiology  (6 units, Spring semester only)
  • PS 696C - Student Forum  (1 unit, taken each academic semester until graduation)
    • Student Forum is an opportunity for graduate students to give talks and receive peer evaluation from Physiology students and faculty to improve their public speaking skills. Ph.D. students are expected to attend each Student Forum and to present a minimum of two 20-30 minutes talks and one hour-long seminar over the course of their graduate careers.
  • PSIO 696A - Physiology Seminar  (1 unit, taken each academic semester until graduation)
    • On alternative weeks to Student Forum, Doctoral students are required to attend the Physiology Seminar, in which speakers are invited from on-campus and off-campus institutions to deliver seminars on subjects relevant to Physiology.
  • PS 595B - Scientific Writing Strategies  (2 units, Spring semester, satisfies Ethics requirement)
  • PSIO 697A, PSIO 697B - Teaching Workshop  (1 unit each semester as a TA, 2 semesters total)
  • Upper Division Statistics - (500-level or greater) (3 units, satisfies Statistics requirement)
    • Suggested Courses: PHL 576 - Biostatistics for Public Health, STAT 509 - Statistics for Research, PSIO 575 - Statistical Analysis
  • PS 700/PSIO610 - Laboratory Rotation  (3 units, must be taken at least twice)

Obtaining a B or better in PSIO 503 (Cellular and Molecular Physiology) and PSIO 603 (Systems Physiology) is considered the equivalent of passing the Graduate College's Qualifying Exams.

Students will select additional courses in consultation with their advisor or Dissertation Committee, with a goal of developing a study plan that is individually tailored to the student's particular interests and that will satisfy Graduate College requirements.

In some cases, certain Program requirements may be waived or credits may be transferred if equivalent coursework has been completed previously. However, if a waiver or transfer of credits is desired, the student must submit a written petition to the Program Committee.

Laboratory Rotations

Participation in research, under the supervision and guidance of a faculty member, allows students to learn valuable skills, to gain experience in the research "process", and to organize and present research results in both written and oral formats.

Doctoral students are required to take a minimum of two laboratory rotations, but most students register for three. The purpose of the laboratory rotation will vary with the individual needs and interests of the student, and a primary goal for successful completion of each rotation will be agreed upon between the student and the investigator. The laboratory rotation should provide an opportunity to become acquainted with the ongoing research of the laboratory and to be exposed to the important technical aspects of the work.

Laboratory rotations must be performed under the tutelage of any faculty member with an active appointment in the Physiological Sciences Graduate Program, and each rotation must be completed with a different faculty member. Laboratory rotations with faculty outside of the PS GIDP must be petitioned and approved by the Program Committee.

Sample PhD Career

This table represents a sample career of a generic Doctoral student, and is subject to change depending on the study plan developed by the student.

1st Year

Fall:

PSIO 503 - Cellular & Molecular Physiology (6 units)

PS 696c - Student Forum (1 unit)

PSIO 696a - Physiology Seminar (1 unit)

PS 700/PSIO 610 - Laboratory Rotation (3 units)

PSIO697a - Teaching Workshop (1 unit): TA for either 201 or 202

Spring:

 - Choose an Advisor & Join a Lab, during second lab rotation

PSIO 603a - Systems Physiology (6 units)

PS 595b - Scientific Writing Strategies (2 units)

PS 696c - Student Forum (1 unit)

PSIO 696a - Physiology Seminar (1 unit)

PS 700/PSIO 610 - Laboratory Rotation (3 units)

PSIO 697b - Teaching Workshop (1 unit): TA for either 201 or 202

*Summer:
PS 700 - Laboratory Rotation (3 units - if neccesary, summer registration not required)

2nd Year

Fall:

 - Form Comprehensive Exam Committee

 - Complete first 20-30 minute Forum Presentation

PS 696c - Student Forum (1 unit)

PSIO 696a - Physiology Seminar (1 unit)

Minor Coursework (6 units)

PS/PSIO 900 - Research units  (4 units) 

Spring:

 - Form Comprehensive Exam Committee

 - Complete Comprehensive Exam by the end of the term/Summer/early Fall term of 3rd year

PS 696c - Student Forum (1 unit)

PSIO 696a - Physiology Seminar (1 unit)

Statistics Course (3 units)

Minor Coursework (3 units)

PS/PSIO 900 - Research units  (4 units) 

3rd Year

Fall:

 - Complete second 20-30 min. Student Forum Presentation

PS 696c - Student Forum (1 unit)

PSIO 696a - Physiology Seminar (1 unit)

PS/PSIO 920 - Dissertation units (4 units)

Spring:

 - Form Dissertation Committee

PS 696c - Student Forum (1 unit)

PSIO 696a - Physiology Seminar (1 unit)

PS/PSIO 920 - Dissertation units (4 units)

4th Year

Fall:

 - Submit Proposal with the Proposal Approval Form

 - Complete full length (one hour) Student Forum Presentation

PS 696c - Student Forum (1 unit)

PSIO 696a - Physiology Seminar (1 unit)

PS/PSIO 920 - Dissertation units (4 units)

Spring:

PS 696c - Student Forum (1 unit)

PSIO 696a - Physiology Seminar (1 unit)

PS/PSIO 920 - Dissertation units (4 units)

5th Year

Fall:

PS 696c - Student Forum (1 unit)

PSIO 696a - Physiology Seminar (1 unit)

PS/PSIO 920 - Dissertation units (4 units)

Spring:

 - Complete and Defend Dissertation

 - Attend the Interdisciplinary and Biomedical Sciences Graduation Ceremony!

PS 696c - Student Forum (1 unit)

PSIO 696a - Physiology Seminar (1 unit)

PS/PSIO 920 - Dissertation units (4 units)

 

Last updated 20 Jun 2017