Pathology Graduate Training Program
Cellular and Molecular Pathology (CMP) -
CMP Graduate Student Guidelines - Interdisciplinary Program

Required Classes

A minimum of 32 credit hours of formal coursework and 40 credit hours of dissertation research is required for completion of the Ph.D. program. A listing of available courses can be obtained from the CMP Office or the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Office.

Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Core Courses
Course Title Course Number Credits (cr)
Foundations of Biomedical Sciences INTBP 2000 8
Foundations Conference INTBP 2005 4
Laboratory Research Rotation
(Three rotations are required)
INTBP 2010 1
Scientific Ethics INTBP 2290 1
Intro to Statistical Methods BIOST 2041 3

CMP Program Required Courses
Course Title Course Number Credits (cr)
Molecular Mechanisms of Tissue
Growth And Differentiation
MSCMP 2730 3
Pathology Research Seminar
(Five semesters are required)
MSCMP 2750 1
One of the following two courses:
(IBGP students only)
1) Pathobiology
2) Cancer Biology and Therapeutics

MSCMP 2740
MSCMP 3710


And, one or two additional 2nd or 3rd Tier (2000 or 3000 series) electives


There are no formal teaching requirements for completion of the CMP Graduate Program. However, the Pathology Research Seminar course is designed in a manner that helps students obtain instructional experiences.

Grant Writing Skills

All CMP students will be exposed to a formal seminar or course in grant writing before completing their thesis. Exposure to this component of the program is dependent upon thw way in which they enter the program. For IBGP students the required way to fulfill your requirement is via the formal grant-writing course offered by our IBGP sister program (MSIMM 3240, summer, 2.0 Cr). MD/PhD students take a comparable course through the MSTP.

Research in Progress (RIP)

All CMP students will meet the last Monday of the month from 5-6 PM to talk about the research they are conducting. Generally, two students will do a 30 minute overview of their research. The intent is to introduce newer students to the work of the more senior students as well to get constructive feedback on the research projects being performed. RIP is open to faculty as well.


Preliminary Evaluation (performed by the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Program)

The Student Evaluation & Progress (STEP) Committee within the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program will conduct the preliminary evaluation during the first year. This evaluation is based upon course and lab rotation grades. Equal weight is given to classroom and research performance.


Comprehensive Examination

By the end of the Fall semester of the second year in the CMP program, the student must pass a comprehensive examination. Students are therefore advised to take this examination at the end of the first year. The exam will consist of a written research proposal prepared by the student and presented to a comprehensive exam committee. The proposal is a 10-page document that outlines a specific research project written as a grant application. The exam committee consists of the student's faculty mentor and at least four (4) additional members of the graduate faculty and must be pre-approved by the director of CMP. One committee member must be from outside the CMP program. The proposal should describe a project that will be completed by the student within approximately three (3) years. The following sections must appear within the proposal:

  1. Specific Aims (1 page). A brief description of the aims of the projects, along with hypotheses to be tested.
  2. Background (3 pages). Provide background information for the project and identify existing gaps in current knowledge and how the project results will fill these gaps. Include any preliminary data obtained to date.
  3. Experimental Design (4 pages). The overall experimental plan of the project. All experiments and proper controls should be included. It is important to recognize potential difficulties or pitfalls of the proposed experiments, as well as propose alternative methods to obtain the research objectives.
  4. Experimental Methods (2 pages). This section should describe in sufficient detail experimental methods in order to convince the exam committee member that the student could perform the method.
  5. Bibliography. A standard and consistent format should be used throughout the proposal and titles of cited articles should be included.

The oral exam will consist of a 30-40 minute student presentation of the written proposal, followed by an oral exam administered by the committee. Questions will center upon the topics covered and related to the written proposal. The student is expected to show in-depth knowledge of the research topic and related fields of study, be able to explain and defend protocols or methods described in the proposal, and explain how the proposed studies relate to and advance the current knowledge of the field of study. The committee will then discuss student performance on both the written and oral portions of the examination and recommend either passing the student or ask for revisions to the written proposal and/or re-examination.

Doctoral Dissertation

Upon completion of the comprehensive examination, the student will focus his or her attention on the dissertation. Any additional requirements are designed to assist the student for this task. The dissertation is an original and independent series of experiments designed to produce a significant advancement to a problem in Experimental Pathology. It must add to the general knowledge and understanding within this field. It is expected, though not required, that most students will have published or have submitted for publication several papers based on their thesis research at the time of the final thesis exam. The department considers four to five years to be a reasonable limit for the completion of the doctoral dissertation under most circumstances.

The Doctoral Committee often, but not necessarily, consists of the faculty members from the Comprehensive Examination Committee. At this stage students (with the assistance of their thesis advisor) may wish to include one faculty member from outside the University that has expertise on the individual research topic. If the committee changes, the Director of the CMP Program must also approve the make-up of the revised Doctoral Committee. The Doctoral Committee serves to assess the student's research plan, advise the student during the course of the dissertation research, and act as examiners for the final dissertation defense. Students must meet with their Doctoral Committee twice annually. For each of these meetings, the student should provide a power point presentation to the Doctoral Committee members that summarizes the attempted and completed projects of the past year and provides specific plans for the next year.

The final dissertation defense consists of a public presentation of the dissertation research followed an oral examination administered by the Doctoral Committee. All graduate students, postgraduates and faculty within the department and the Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program are encouraged to attend the dissertation seminar. The seminar consists of a formal presentation of the background, methods, results, and interpretation of the dissertation results. The presentation usually lasts for approximately fifty (50) minutes followed by questions from the audience.

The oral examination begins immediately after the public presentation of the dissertation research. Members of the Doctoral Committee question the candidate on the dissertation and related subjects. Successful completion of the dissertation defense culminates in the award of a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Pathology.