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FAQs for the Multidisciplinary PhD Program in Biomedical Science

Programs
Which track should I choose?
What is involved in a Ph.D. program?
How long will it take to complete the Ph.D. program?

Fellowships
Are fellowships available?
Is a separate application form required to receive a fellowship?
Do I need to do extra work for the fellowship?

Admission
What are the requirements for admission?
How do I apply?
Will you evaluate photocopies of official documents?
Do you accept students for part-time study?
Do you accept non-degree students?
What if I have a handicap?
What are the minimum GRE scores and GPA for admission?
What is important for the Personal Statement?

Multidisciplinary PhD Program

Which track should I choose?
The most important factor in choosing a track should be how well it fits your particular interests, academic background and career goals. Review the four tracks we offer and the research interests of the faculty and if you have unanswered questions contact the track director or admissions director. There may be subject areas and skills that you are expected to have learned as an undergraduate. For example, some programs may suggest a background in biochemistry. If possible, meet with faculty and students in the program that interests you. If that is not possible, address your questions to the admissions director via Email.


What is involved in a Ph.D. program?
Doctoral programs vary, but in general they share certain common features. Most programs involve about 1.5 – 2.0 years of course work at the beginning of the program. During this phase, the students also rotate through faculty research laboratories and attend research seminars. Following the course work, students take a candidacy examination to determine whether they have sufficient understanding of what they have learned to enter the research phase of their studies. Students must have at least a B academic average to take the candidacy examination and to continue in the program.
Prior to beginning their dissertation research, the student will select a mentor and will write a research proposal. The mentor, along with an advisory committee, will guide the student through the research phase. At the completion of the research project, the student will write a dissertation describing the work and will defend it publicly.


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How long will it take to complete the Ph.D. program?
Doctoral programs generally require about two years of course work followed by three years of laboratory research. The length of the research portion will depend on a variety of factors, such as the time it takes to learn new techniques, the complexity of the project, how much effort is put into the project and the success of obtaining appropriate data. Prior research experience and graduate course work may decrease the time to complete the program.


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Fellowships

Are Fellowships available?
Yes. Students accepted into doctoral (Ph.D.) programs at GSBS-N receive a stipend, tuition waiver, and student health insurance. The current stipend is $29,605.


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Is a separate application form required to receive a fellowship?
No. Doctoral fellowships are based on the qualifications of the applicant. In general, all students accepted into the doctoral programs will receive the fellowship package and no additional application is required.


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Do I need to do extra work for the fellowship?
No. Fellowships are awarded to aid in the pursuit of your educational goals. They are not teaching or research assistantships and, therefore, there is not a specific hourly work component involved. On the other hand, as part of their training, doctoral students may be expected to participate in the teaching responsibilities of their program. In general, little time is required for these tasks and they help in preparing students for future academic careers should they desire to pursue that career path.


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Admission

What are the requirements for admission?
Admission is competitive and dependent upon the availability of openings in each program. Candidates for admission are evaluated on the basis of academic achievement, personal interviews, recommendations from former professors, and other data documenting academic performance and experience. Honors, awards, and professional experience in a major field of specialization also are taken into consideration.
An applicant's cumulative academic performance should present convincing evidence of scholarly competence, especially in science and mathematics. A record of at least B level work in the natural sciences is generally required. The record should be supported with creditable scores on the graduate record exam (GRE) and favorable references, and should indicate that the applicant is capable of performing successfully in the rigorous atmosphere of the graduate school. Applicants should display evidence of seriousness of purpose, strong motivation to achieve a successful career in science, and high standards of personal conduct. Each applicant is evaluated by the program to which the application was made.

Essential/Technical Requirements for Admission
Technical Standards refer to non-academic requirements that are essential for meeting the academic requirements of the program. Within any area of specialization, students must demonstrate competence in those intellectual and physical tasks that together represent the fundamentals of biomedical research in their chosen discipline.
The Multidisciplinary PhD program at the Rutgers Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences requires a laboratory-based research dissertation. Granting of this degree implies that the recipient has demonstrated a base of knowledge in the field and the ability to independently apply that knowledge to solve a particular problem by forming hypotheses, designing and conducting experiments, interpreting the experimental results, and communicating the results and their interpretation to the scientific community. Thus, a doctoral candidate must possess abilities and skills that allow for observation, intellectual and conceptual reasoning, laboratory skills, and communication. The use of a trained intermediary is not acceptable in many situations in that a candidate's judgment will be based on someone else's power of selection and observation.
Observation
The candidate must be able to acquire knowledge by direct observation of demonstrations, experiments, and experiences within the laboratory and instructional setting. Examples are physiological or pharmacological responses in animals, studies of microbiological cultures and organisms, identification of normal and abnormal cells or tissues through a microscope, and interpretation of results obtained on various instrumentation.
Intellectual/Conceptual Abilities
The candidate must be able to measure, calculate, analyze, reason, integrate and synthesize information to solve problems.
Laboratory Skills
The candidate must posses the laboratory skills necessary to perform procedures required for experimentation within the chosen discipline. These skills may include, but are not limited to, small animal surgery, animal handling, microorganism propagation, solution preparation; safe use of chemicals and hazardous materials, microscopy, manipulating electronic and other complex equipment.
Communication
The candidate must be able to communicate and discuss his or her experimental hypotheses and results to the scientific community, both in written and oral form.
Behavioral and Social Attributes
The candidate must possess the emotional and mental health attributes required to succeed in a highly competitive and intense intellectual environment. The candidate must demonstrate good judgment, the prompt completion of assigned responsibilities, the ability to function under the stress, and the ability to understand and comply with ethical standards for the conduct of research.


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How do I apply?
Before a request for matriculation can be considered, the following materials must be on file with the Graduate School Office:
1. A completed application form.
2. Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate records.
3. Graduate Record Examination results. (General test is required of all applicants for matriculated status except those holding degrees of M.D., D.D.S., D.V.M., D.Sc., or D.O. from accredited institutions in the United States).
4. Recommendations from three individuals, preferably academic instructors, who have direct knowledge of the applicant's academic abilities in science-related fields.
5. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) required of all foreign applicants.


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Will you evaluate photocopies of official documents?
Yes. We will evaluate photocopies of official transcripts and test scores, but official documents will be required prior to registration. The latter must be sent by the examining organization (e.g., ETS) or the university from which you are submitting the transcript.


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Do you accept students for part - time study?
Sometimes. Prospective students who initially are unable to devote full time to graduate study may apply for matriculation as part-time students. Entrance requirements for such applicants are identical to those of full-time, matriculated students. Part-time matriculated students must register for at least six credits per semester and must maintain the same academic standards required of full-time students. Doctoral students must be enrolled full-time for at least one year following the Candidacy Examination.


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Do you accept non-degree students?
Yes. Students with baccalaureate degrees may enroll as non-matriculated students. Permission to take courses is contingent upon fulfilling the specific course prerequisites and availability of facilities to accommodate the applicant. Preference is given to teachers or professional workers in neighboring industries and hospitals who are seeking to further their knowledge of biomedical sciences or striving to advance their careers through continuing education. Requirements for admission are the same as those for matriculated status except that GRE scores are not necessary. Acceptance is granted for one year; students must request permission to take additional courses in future years. Non-matriculated students may take a maximum of 10-15 credits.


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What if I have a handicap?
Rutgers policy provides that no program activity administered by the University shall exclude from participation, admission, treatment or employment, or deny benefits to, or subject to discrimination any qualified individual solely by reason of his or her physical handicap. Qualified individuals are those persons who, with reasonable accommodation, are capable of performing the essential function of the position in question in accordance with University policy, applicable laws and regulations. Certain skills and abilities generally are necessary for completion of the program, as described under the section Essential/Technical Requirements for Admission.


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What are the minimum GRE scores and GPA for admission?
In general, we look for at least a B undergraduate average, but the overall record is of primary importance. Individual programs may be interested in how an applicant did in specific courses, whether the undergraduate background course work was adequate for the program, and whether the applicant showed a pattern of improvement during undergraduate study. There is no specific cut-off for the GRE. Although we look for above average scores, results of the GRE are placed in context with the overall record.


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What is important for the Personal Statement?
The Statement of Purpose gives the faculty and admissions committee the opportunity to see you as an individual. They are interested in your motivation to pursue the degree, reasons for choosing a specific program or programs, intellectual skills, writing ability, appreciation of the requirements to complete the program, and your suitability for their particular program. Prior research experience is a valuable asset and should be discussed. Other types of work experience also may be of significance. Grades and scores on standardized tests are only two of the many factors that are considered by an admissions committee. Ultimately, you and the program must work as a team for several years, and it is important that you fit well together.