Handbook page

Individual Development Plan

Graduate students benefit from reflecting on their career aspirations, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and formulating a plan to better prepare themselves for future training and the job market.

Individual Development Plans (IDPs) provide a planning process that identifies both professional development needs and career objectives. Furthermore, IDPs serve as a communication tool between graduate students and their mentors. 

Rotation Research

Rotation Research

Early in the first semester, students will make arrangements with MCB faculty trainers to begin rotations in laboratory research. All students are required to pass three academic year rotations in three different laboratories of Program faculty, regardless of previous research experience or degree program.

The three academic year rotation periods are:

Rotation 1:     9/27 - 12/3 (Rotation report on 12/3)

Rotation 2:     12/13 - 12/20; 1/3 - 3/4 (Rotation report on 3/4) {suggested break 12-21 to 1/4}


The teaching requirement in the MCB Graduate Program is fulfilled by participating as a teaching assistant for one semester during the second year.

Research Seminars

Students are required to attend and participate in the MCB Graduate Program weekly invitational seminar series and monthly MCB Data Club.

Weekly MCB Graduate Program seminars are presented by visiting scientists invited by MCB faculty trainers on Wednesdays noon-1 pm during the academic year. Students are expected to attend the seminar every week as a part of their training outside of the area of their thesis research. In addition, a student committee organizes a student-invited speaker each year. Students can also meet with invited speakers over lunch after the seminar.


Two or three faculty members will be appointed by the Program Director to serve together with the Program Director or Assistant Director as an advisory committee for each first-year and second-year student. This committee will advise the student on academic matters and review the student's progress at the beginning of each of the first four semesters in the program. Topics covered in advising sessions include selection of coursework, research rotations, the Teaching Assistantship, participation in other activities in the program, and preparation for the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination.

Financial Support

Graduate students who are candidates for the Ph.D. degree are generally accepted into the MCB Program with a commitment of financial support while their research and academic studies progress satisfactorily. Most students entering the MCB Program receive one full year of support as division fellows; a few exceptional students might be awarded a University or Dean's Fellowship for their first year. Second-year students typically receive support during one semester of the academic year as teaching assistants.