Student Handbook

The Student Handbook is the official source of guidelines for graduate study in the Department of Human Genetics. Requirements of the doctoral program and duties of doctoral students are described in detail. Note that policies may change from year to year. Each doctoral student will be governed by the requirements and policies stated in the edition of the Student Handbook in effect at the time of matriculation.

A history of Student Handbook editions is maintained for reference on the Human Genetics Department website. Current Student Handbook (PDF) | Past Years

Doctoral Competencies

The goal of the doctoral program is to prepare students for careers leading genetics and genomics research in academia or industry. Toward this end, students will gain proficiency in the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to begin a career as an independent scientist. These educational goals are organized into five doctoral program competencies. After successful completion of the doctoral program, students will be able to...

  • Apply theoretical knowledge of the principles of multifactorial inheritance to interpret and evaluate genetic studies of complex human phenotypes
  • Apply knowledge of the mathematical and genetic underpinnings of methodologies for disease gene identification to interpret and evaluate gene mapping studies
  • Apply theoretical knowledge of the dynamic relationship between chromosome structure and function to interpret the impact of chromosome organization on health and disease
  • Analyze, synthesize, and communicate research in human genetics at the level needed for effective research and teaching
  • Apply a broad range of molecular, clinical, and/or analytical methodologies to design and carry out genetic studies


Coursework for doctoral students is typically undertaken during the first two years in the program, although advanced courses may be taken in later years. All doctoral students will complete the six core Human Genetics courses as well as the core Public Health curriculum. Advanced courses offered through Human Genetics and other departments will provide students instruction in their chosen area of concentration. Examples of courses offered through other departments that may help a student specialize their studies can be found in the general list of suggestions for elective courses. Certificate programs offered through the School of Public Health can be pursued to further customize the education of doctoral students.

Areas of Strength


The doctoral program offers training in molecular genetics, statistical genetics and genetic epidemiology, and genetic counseling. This includes advanced coursework and outside-of-the-classroom training and research experiences. For example, during the second year and beyond, doctoral students will choose advanced courses in Human Genetics and elective courses across the Schools of the Health Sciences pertaining to their area of interest. Across all years, students will participate in workshops, laboratory meetings, and scientific conferences, and attend seminars offered to the University community, that enhance knowledge and skills in their chosen area of study. Research experiences including dissertation research will provide in-depth, hands-on training in the chosen area.

Genetic Counseling Poster


Graduation Checklist

The Graduation Checklist enumerates the doctoral degree requirements.

Documenting Progress

Starting when students register for courses for their second year, and prior to registration for each semester thereafter, students and their mentors will complete brief evaluation forms. The purpose of these forms is to document satisfactory student performance.

Evaluation forms

Planning for Success

An Individualized Development Plan provides an organizational structure for deliberate career planning. Given the competitive job market and diverse career opportunities for scientists completing a doctorate, career planning is an essential component of the doctoral program. Therefore, doctoral students will maintain an Individualized Development Plan in which to organize their career goals and document progress toward their professional development. By setting goals, developing and implementing strategies to pursue these goals, and monitoring progress, new PhDs will achieve greater success in their careers after graduation.