PhD Training Program in Genetics and Development

The program in Genetics and Development provides a broad, solid education in genetics and animal development, with rigorous training in critical thinking and experimental design. Genetics is central to all of biology and the training program is guided by the principle that understanding the genetic control of development and physiology is a fundamental goal of biomedical research.

We offer training in a diverse range of research areas that include the regulation of gene expression, cell differentiation, and growth control, the molecular genetics of embryogenesis, cell patterning and

organogenesis, the genetics and pathogenesis of inherited disease, the molecular genetics of cancer, molecular physiology, stem cell biology, the genetics of recombination and linkage analysis and human genetics and genomics, biological modeling of human diseases, and the development of targeted therapeutics as part of Columbia's Precision Medicine Initiative.  Model organisms from yeast to mouse complement studies of human genetics and development.  Twenty-nine faculty from nine different departments make up the training faculty providing an interdisciplinary yet collegial group of mentors all making use of genetic approaches in their research.  This faculty is dedicated to the highest standards of graduate education.


Research training begins with rotations through three research laboratories in the first year, after which each student chooses a laboratory for thesis research. One rotation may be arranged outside the department, and the Thesis Lab may be chosen from any department in the University. At the end of the second year and beginning of the third, students complete a two-part Qualifying Examination based on a research project. Students are closely supervised at all stages of their training, and have access to faculty advice through their thesis advisor, Qualifying Examination Committee and Thesis Research Advisory Committee, or TRAC. A Training Committee oversees the program and the progress of all students. After rotations and all required courses an M.A. degree is awarded, and an M.Phil. degree is awarded after completion of the Qualifying Examination. Training is completed with the successful defense of a thesis, usually 4-6 years from entry into the program. For more information regarding the training program, please refer to our Student Training Handbook link below: