Genetics and Development

Program Category: PhD Programs

Director of Graduate Studies: Michael Shen


Degree Programs: Full-Time: MA, MPhil, PhD

Please note: This program is located on the Health Sciences campus in the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The degree for this program is conferred by GSAS, but program specifics, such as admissions, degree requirements, and financial aid, are administered by the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

This program is located on the Health Sciences campus in the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The purpose of the program is to train graduate students for research careers in genetics and development. The department provides graduate training in the following: the regulation of gene expression and growth control in eukaryotic cells, the molecular genetics of cell differentiation and development, the genetics and pathogenesis of inherited disease, the molecular genetics of cancer, and the genetics of recombination and linkage analysis. Specific research programs are listed next to names of the faculty.

During the first year, students rotate through three laboratories and then select a laboratory head with whom they will work toward the PhD. Students generally take the basic courses of the department in the first two years of graduate study and the department's oral qualifying examination by the end of the second year of study.

The research environment at Columbia fosters interactions with basic scientists in other departments. Research seminars for faculty and students sponsored by this and other basic science departments provide constant exposure to current thinking in the areas of genetics and development, microbiology, biochemistry, and cell biology.

The department's laboratory facilities, located primarily in the Hammer Health Sciences Center at the Columbia University Medical Center, are modern and well-equipped for virtually all kinds of genetics research. Classrooms and the Augustus Long Library, the largest biomedical library in New York City, are in the same building. Students may also use the university's other excellent facilities for research and scholarly activity, including the Department of Biological Sciences on the main campus and the New York State Psychiatric Institute on the Health Sciences campus.

Fellowships are awarded in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success.

Special Admissions Requirements: 

  1. One full year each of physics, general chemistry, and organic chemistry with laboratory biology and calculus. Admission may be granted to an applicant who has not completed all the required preparation. In such cases, the deficiency is made up by adding appropriate courses to the student's program.
  2. Letters of recommendation, and a personal interview, if possible.
  3. The General GRE is required. One advanced test, preferably in biology is recommended.

The department accepts only candidates for the PhD degree. The MA degree must be earned in the department prior to earning any higher degrees unless the student is admitted with advanced standing. For the MPhil degree, the student must have earned an MA, completed all additional courses specified on an individual basis by the training committee of the department, and successfully completed the departmental qualifying examination. The MPhil is a prerequisite for the PhD, as is the successful oral defense of a dissertation describing the research.

Apply to:

Degree Programs: Full Time