Program Description

Graduate Programs in Bioscience is a consortium of 10 home areas and their affiliated Ph.D. programs, organized to provide the best possible research training and professional development for graduate students pursuing Ph.D.s in the life and biomedical sciences.

UCLA has a long tradition of excellence and leadership in the biomedical and life sciences and in developing innovative and effective graduate training programs. In 1993, UCLA developed the ACCESS program, one of the nation’s first unified admissions and first year training programs for graduate students entering bioscience Ph.D. programs.  ACCESS was a model for umbrella programs that followed at other institutions.

Graduate Programs in Bioscience expands and refines the ACCESS model. Initiated in 2013 following extensive strategic planning, we build on the strengths of ACCESS by providing an organized network of programs that offers students breadth and flexibility to best pursue their interests across the wide range of bioscience Ph.D. programs. At the same time, we introduce the benefits of individually tailored education in smaller training communities, defined by research themes, not traditional departments. We are invigorated and enthusiastic in our continued commitment to a program that empowers our students to excel.

The Home Area model of graduate training

Home Areas are cohesive research training communities of faculty, students and postdoctoral researchers with shared scientific interests. They stem from UCLA’s areas of research excellence rather than traditional departmental divisions. In this way Home Areas draw together an interdisciplinary group of faculty and trainees from across the university to tackle basic and translational problems at the forefront of each field.

These academic “homes” are designed by faculty to promote and support individualized training and career-building opportunities for students in the home area.

This framework provides specialized, in-depth educational programs while maintaining flexibility for students to explore frontiers beyond any single home area. Likewise, faculty are able to contribute in multiple home areas according to their research interests. Providing students with a combination of deep immersion in a field and the opportunity to explore new horizons creates limitless and unique educational possibilities.

Each home areas is affiliated with a degree-granting Ph.D. program, a union that sets the specific courses, advising opportunities, and research, scholarship, and examination requirements.

Courses of study

Each home area has designed a specific course of study to prepare students for careers in bioscience research in their chosen area of specialization. While the specifics are customized at the home area level, there is a general training progression.

In the first year, students engage in quarter-long research rotations in different laboratories to gain research experience and identify a faculty member to serve as the advisor for dissertation research. For rotations, students have access to faculty affiliated with any of the ten home areas.

The first 1-2 years also typically involve coursework to ensure that students have a strong concept foundation and develop advanced skills needed to critically evaluate the literature, recognize important questions in the field, design effective approaches, critically analyze data, and communicate clearly through oral and written forms of expression.

In the second year students normally develop a dissertation proposal and prepare for an oral examination by the dissertation committee. Written and oral exams are required at UCLA to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree; the format can vary according to program. In recognition of the value of the professional skills associated with teaching, many programs require students to gain experience by serving as teaching assistants in two undergraduate and/or graduate courses.

The third, fourth, and fifth years focus on developing independence in cutting edge research, through dissertation project studies. Students are encouraged to present and publish their research in preparation for their thesis defense and, ultimately, the transition to the next phase of their career.  Further support for this transition is offered through activities directed at professional skill development and career planning.

Faculty

Graduate Programs in Bioscience brings together over 400 faculty from 29 departments across the campus, including the UCLA College and Schools of Medicine, Engineering, Dentistry, and Public Health. The range of research training possibilities is exceptional, extending from fundamental properties of molecules, cells, and organisms to the causes, diagnosis and treatment of disease.  This breadth of opportunity is built on a culture of collegiality and mentorship dedicated to the success of our trainees and colleagues.

Financial support

All students making timely progress toward their degrees receive financial support that includes a competitive stipend, full tuition, health insurance, and various student services fees that cover gym facilities and academic support services.

Many UCLA students in the biosciences are successful in winning extramural fellowships. Graduate Programs in Bioscience offers workshops and one-on-one mentoring for students who wish to apply for such opportunities as well as recognition in the form of a stipend increase during the fellowship period.

Career development

At UCLA we aim to train students to become leaders in their chosen fields and their chosen careers. We view graduate training as a critical stepping stone along diverse careers paths that may lead to academic teaching and research, industry research, entrepreneurship, policy analysis, law, and management; among many others possibilities. UCLA provides career development resources and opportunities to prepare our students to follow their passion and enter tomorrow’s workforce in whatever capacity that may be.

Community

The leadership of Graduate Programs in Bioscience fully embraces the UCLA Principles of Community and the David Geffen School of Medicine Statement on Diversity and Inclusion. We appreciate the unique background and experience each student brings to GPB and consider them essential to the vitality and excellence of our program.