Molecular Medicine, PhD

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Field of Study: Molecular Medicine 

Program Overview

Admission into the Molecular Medicine PhD program is obtained through application directly to the program. Graduate students complete didactic coursework, independent research, and other doctoral requirements to earn the PhD. First-year students complete two to four laboratory rotations among the laboratories of training faculty and are exposed to trainer research projects during the Frontiers of Molecular Medicine seminars. The first year of classes begin in the Summer. Students from all years present their research and received feedback in the Student Seminar Series.

During subsequent years, students will devote the majority of their time to thesis research while attending advanced graduate courses, and seminars. Advanced elective courses may be chosen from any department or program on campus with the approval of the graduate program director and the student’s thesis committee over the first two years. Students must take a total of 36 credit hours of courses and pre-candidacy thesis research, including 24 graded credit hours, and maintain a B average.

The qualifying exam will be comprised of preparing and defending a grant application in the NIH format. The topic of the grant is the area of the student’s thesis research. 

All efforts should be made to complete the PhD within five years from the date of matriculation.  At least one first-author manuscript must be accepted for publication prior to the thesis defense.

Research Rotations

The research rotations allow the student to sample areas of research and become familiar with faculty members and their laboratories. The main purpose of these rotations is to aid the student in selecting a laboratory for the thesis work. Students will begin their rotations in July. At least two rotations are highly recommended prior to choosing the thesis advisor.

Choosing a Thesis Advisor

During or after the second semester of the first year, students select an advisor for their dissertation research. The emphasis of the PhD work is on research, culminating in the completion of an original, independent research thesis.

PRISM Program (Physicians Researchers Innovating in Science and Medicine)  

NIH recognizes the need for physician on-ramps into research training, including the option for obtaining a PhD during residency/fellowship. The Molecular Medicine PhD Program offers a track for Cleveland Clinic physician trainees in GME accredited programs, who wish to pursue a PhD in laboratory-based research in the Molecular Medicine PhD Program, a program completely housed and administered at the Cleveland Clinic. If you are a Cleveland Clinic physician trainee and have questions about this opportunity, please email

PhD Policies

For PhD policies and procedures, please review the School of Graduate Studies section of the General Bulletin.