The first two years, students focus on their research while solidifying their knowledge base by taking classes on topics of relevance. Students take a total of 24 classroom units over the first two years, most consisting of 4-unit sessions, but some 2-unit courses can also be combined. Tuition costs are fully covered, and after the first PIBBS-funded year, the student stipend is provided by the Principal Investigator (PI), i.e. the students’ thesis mentor. Most programs have a qualifying exam at the end of year two, to ensure each student is well-prepared for the intensive research to follow.
The next three years, students focus fully on their research, developing their project, writing manuscripts and attending conferences. They are also trained in giving research presentations. Periodic meetings with the students’ thesis committees provide scientific support ensuring progress toward the PhD. By the time the students defend their thesis, they will be an expert on their topic and will have achieved considerable independence, providing outstanding preparation for a postdoctoral fellowship or other science-related careers.