The doctoral Program at meharry

The doctoral program leads to the interdisciplinary Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is divided into core, major emphasis, and dissertation phases.

The core phase occupies the first year of study in which all students enroll in courses covering fundamental aspects of biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, communication skills, biostatistics, and bioethics that are critical to success as a professional scientist. Students also rotate in a minimum of three research laboratories.

After completing the core phase, students identify an advisor for the major emphasis phase. Students may study with graduate faculty in a variety of basic and clinical science departments. Currently, training is in five major emphasis areas:

Biochemistry and Cancer Biology
Microbiology and Immunology

During the major emphasis phase students take courses and begin research in the advisor's laboratory. The major emphasis phase ends when the student passes comprehensive examinations, thereby designating a student a candidate for the Ph.D. program. Most students require at least two years to complete the major emphasis phase.

During the dissertation phase, the successful Ph.D. candidate completes the research begun during the major emphasis phase under the direction of the advisor and dissertation committee. The candidate writes a doctoral dissertation describing the research in detail and defends it in a public seminar. To be granted the doctoral degree, the student must either publish or have accepted for publication a manuscript as first author in a peer-review journal, as well as present a public seminar on his/her dissertation research.

For more information about the Ph.D. program, contact Dr. Evangeline Motley-Johnson at