Jul 20, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biomedical Sciences, PhD

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Program Coordinator: Richard A. Franklin (5N96D Brody School of Medicine; 252-744-2705; franklinr@ecu.edu)

The Brody School of Medicine (BSOM) at East Carolina University (ECU) offers a doctor of philosophy (PhD) in biomedical sciences. The program is housed in the BSOM Office of Research and Graduate Studies. Students select an area of concentration in anatomy and cell biology; biochemistry and molecular biology; integrative physiology and metabolism; microbiology and immunology; or pharmacology and toxicology.

For exceptionally well-prepared students some of the core competencies can be waived. If fewer than 76 s. h. of coursework and cognates to the major field are required in a plan, a specific statement to justify this plan should be submitted to, and approved by, the program director and the dean of the Graduate School.

The Biomedical Sciences, PhD requires a minimum of 76 s. h. as follows:

2. Concentrations - 36-38 s.h.

Electives must be chosen in consultation with the Graduate Advisory Committee and concentration director. Select one of the following concentrations.

3. Research Core - 29-31 s.h.

a. Laboratory research (2-4 s.h.)

(ANAT 7240  or BIOC 7330  or MCBI 7498  or PHAR 7614  or PHLY 7740 )

b. Research dissertation (27 s.h.)

(ANAT 9000  or BIOC 9000  or MCBI 9000  or PHAR 9000  or PHLY 9000 )


Admission to study at the doctoral level requires acceptance by the ECU Graduate School and the BSOM Office of Research and Graduate Studies. The application for admission to the Graduate School and official transcripts from each college or university attended must be sent to the Graduate School.

A student whose undergraduate transcript indicates a deficiency in program prerequisites may be required to undergo examination to verify competency before admission to graduate study.  If a student is admitted deficient in analytical and communicative skills necessary for his or her anticipated program, specific remediation will be prescribed in the student’s individual program plan. All such deficiencies must be removed before the doctoral candidacy examination is administered.

Doctoral Candidacy Examination

This examination is normally taken after the major course requirements have been completed. Upon passing this examination, the student is admitted to candidacy for the degree, doctor of philosophy. Each candidate is examined for his or her understanding and mastery of a broad field of knowledge, abilities for critical analysis and synthesis, as well as a familiarity with scholarly methods of research. The examination of scientific material shall consist of written and oral components. At the option of the concentration, a major part of the examination format may be the defense of an original proposal developed by the student.

Doctoral Dissertation

The dissertation must reflect independent, self-motivated research which contributes significant new knowledge to the candidate’s major field. The dissertation should demonstrate the candidate’s skills in experimental design and technique. It must be clearly written and demonstrate understanding of the historical foundations of the work as well as a thorough analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, and significance of the results.

Student Advisory Committee

The concentration director will be responsible for designing tentative program plans for all entering students and for evaluating their performance until the individual advisory committee is established.

Time Limits for Completion of Degree Requirements

A doctoral degree program should be completed before the end of the twelfth semester, excluding summers, following initial enrollment. With endorsement of the student’s advisory committee and the departmental chairperson in which the student dissertation director resides, a student may request an extension.  Dissertation credits used toward a degree in one concentration cannot be subsequently applied to earn a degree in a second concentration.

Transfer Credits

Graduate work completed prior to admission to doctoral candidacy will be evaluated by the concentration director when the individual program of study is developed.  Transfer of credit from another university is subject to further approval by the concentration director, program director, and the dean of the Graduate School.


In addition to course requirements, students are encouraged to participate in scholarly activities, such as experience as teaching assistants and involvement in university-wide seminars. Such activities should be considered as components of the overall program of study.

As part of their predissertation course requirements, students are assigned various periods of rotation in research laboratories of individual faculty members to gain perspectives and laboratory experience.  Assignment of students to individual faculty members for predissertation rotations are made in conjunction with the chairperson, the student’s advisory committee, and concentration director.

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