Ph.D. Program

Integrative Genetics and Genomics Graduate Group Ph.D. Program

Undergraduate Preparation

While most students entering the IGG program have an undergraduate or Master's degree in a traditional scientific major (e.g., genetics, biology, biochemistry, etc.), demonstrated scholarly achievement and evidence of a strong aptitude for scientific research weigh most heavily in the decision to accept an applicant. For this reason, the IGG does not provide a list of preparatory courses requisite for entry into the group. However, students do find it expeditious to completion of the Ph.D. to have a background in chemistry, calculus, genetics, and some biochemistry (either through work experience or coursework).

Program - General Information

A wide range of genetics-related courses are offered by faculty members across the campus. In addition, the Integrative Genetics and Genomics Graduate Group teaches a set of core courses that provides a graduate-level education in genetics. Courses are designed to provide a broad understanding of all aspects of modern genetics, including molecular, quantitative, population, and cytogenetics as well as genomics and bioinformatics. Doctoral students spend their first two years taking a mixture of core and specialized classes as well as assisting in teaching and gaining research experience in the laboratory. During the first two quarters, Ph.D. students are encouraged to rotate through three or four laboratories of their choice prior to selecting an area of research interest and a major professor. At the beginning of the third year, a Ph.D. oral qualifying exam is administered to ascertain each student's knowledge of genetics and proficiency in defending a research proposal. After successful completion of the exam, students advance to candidacy and devote the remainder of their graduate careers to scientific research.

Advising Guidelines

Each student has two official faculty mentors recognized by the Office of Graduate Studies: (1) an academic adviser and (2) a major professor (also known as the dissertation adviser or thesis adviser). Others can serve as mentors as well. The UC Davis Graduate Council recognizes that the mentoring of graduate students by faculty is an integral part of the graduate experience for both (download Mentoring Guidelines).

Academic adviser - nominated by the Integrative Genetics and Genomics Graduate Group and appointed by Graduate Studies. You are initially assigned an adviser based on research interests and your application. You may change your adviser after consultation with the Master Adviser.

The Master Adviser is a faculty member whose job is to coordinate advising activities. The Master Adviser, as well as advisers not assigned specifically to you, can also advise you if your assigned academic adviser is not available.

You should meet with your academic adviser to plan coursework and to:

  • ensure that any deficiencies are made up
  • ensure that required coursework is taken
  • monitor your progress in finding your research home (major professor)
  • obtain periodic review of progress
  • help navigate University bureaucracy
  • discuss any difficulties or problems affecting your academic progress
  • approve/sign forms and petitions (e.g. late drop/PELP/Advancement to Candidacy/ progress reports)
  • get career advice

Ph.D. Program

Course Requirements - Core and Electives (29 units)

  1. Core Courses (19 units)
    • GGG 201A, Advanced Genetic Analysis (5 units)
    • GGG 201B, Comparative and Functional Genomics(5 units)
    • GGG 201D, Population and Quantitative Genetics(5 units)
    • GGG 291, History of Genetics (2 units)
    • GGG 296, Science Professionalism and Integrity (2 units)
  2. Additional requirements to be approved by the graduate academic adviser:
    • GGG 290A, Graduate Student Conference in Genetics (1 unit, S/U). Students will be required to enroll in this course for one quarter during each of the first four years of their degree program.
    • An additional one-unit seminar:
      • GGG 290, Evolutionary, Developmental & Population Genetics
      • GGG 292, Genomics & Epigenetics
      • GGG 293, Animal Genetics
      • GGG 294, Human Genetics
      • GGG 295, Molecular Genetics
      • GGG 296, Plant Genetics
    • Two elective courses, at least one at the graduate level, to provide depth in the general area of proposed dissertation research. These courses must be taken for a letter grade.
    • At least one additional elective graduate level course to encourage diversity in educational experience.
  3. Research units
    • GGG 205, Molecular Genetics Laboratory (5 units, S/U). Laboratory rotation course.
    • GGG 299, Research

Ph.D. Program: Typical Time Line and Sequence of Events

Year One Fall Winter Spring
GGG 201A, Advanced Genetic Analysis GGG201B, Comparative and Functional Genomics GGG 201D,  Population and Quantitative Genetics
GGG 205, Rotations GGG 205, Rotations GGG 299, Research
GGG 291, Seminar in History of Genetics GGG seminar (290 series) or Elective GGG seminar (290 series) or Elective
Year Two Fall Winter Spring
GGG 296, Scientific Professionalism and Integrity Elective Elective
GGG 299 GGG seminar (290 series) GGG seminar (290 series)
GGG 299 GGG 299
Year Three Fall (Qualifying Examination) Winter (Qualifying Examination) Spring (advancement to PhD candidacy)
GGG 299 GGG 299 GGG 299
GGG seminar (290A) GGG seminar (290A) GGG seminar (290A)
Year Four-Six Dissertation Research and Completion
Year Four: One quarter of GGG 290A (student seminar)

Requirements for a Ph.D. include successful completion of a Qualifying Examination, dissertation research, and completion of a written Ph.D. dissertation.

Important Notes

  • If you are a full-time student, you must enroll in 12 units every quarter. While you are taking classes, you can register for 299 research units to bring you up to at least 12 units. Once you stop taking classes, enroll in 12 units of 299 research units. Don't let your registration lapse (you do not have to register for the summer). You must be either registered or on filing fee the quarter you submit your thesis/dissertation.
  • You must receive a B or better in the required GGG courses and maintain an overall B average. If you receive a B- or lower in a required course you must repeat it.
  • Required courses, elective courses, or any courses related to GGG (with the exception of some seminar courses and 299 units) must be taken for a grade (not S/U). Exception: you may petition to take one graded upper division or graduate course (not a GGG course) on an S/U basis with the approval of your academic adviser and the Dean of Graduate Studies.
  • You are responsible for arranging regular meetings with your adviser and/or guidance committee. If you are having problems at any time, see your academic adviser first. The GGG program coordinator can also help you with administrative matters.

A. First Quarter Guidance Committee Meeting (form)

Meet with your Guidance Committee (your academic adviser and two additional IGG advisers assigned by the Master Adviser). If you have joined a lab, your major professor should be a member of this committee. At this meeting you should:

  • identify any prerequisites/deficiencies
  • discuss Winter/Spring course possibilities
  • discuss electives
  • discuss research interest/rotations

Obtain the signatures of your committee on the First Quarter Report form and submit to the GGG program coordinator.

B. Third Quarter Guidance Committee Meeting (form)

Before this meeting, you will reconstitute your committee to include your major professor as well as your academic adviser and one other interested faculty member (who can be one of your original committee members). At this meeting you should discuss your progress:

  • completing prerequisites, requirements?
  • maintaining a B average?
  • are elective courses appropriate?

Obtain the signatures of your committee on the Third Quarter Report form and submit to the GGG program coordinator.

C. Fifth Quarter Guidance Committee Meeting (form)

At this meeting you and your committee should:

  • verify that you have completed/or will complete ALL coursework by the end of the 6th quarter.
  • suggest Qualifying Examination Committee members. (faculty by examination area)
  • verify that you have dissertation proposal; submit abstract.

Obtain the signatures of your committee on the Third Quarter Report form and submit to the GGG program coordinator. Following this meeting, the GGG advisers will assign QE committees using suggestions from students as a guide. Once faculty and students have had the opportunity to review the assignments, the QE application will be submitted to Graduate Studies for approval.

D. Qualifying Examination

The QE should be taken by the end of Winter Quarter of the third year. Students typically take it over the summer or in the Fall or Winter (7th and 8th quarters). Students must take the qualifying exam and advance to candidacy by the 9th quarter to remain eligible for GSRs, TAs.

E. Advancement to Candidacy

Before advancing to candidacy for a doctoral degree, a student must have satisfied all requirements set by the graduate program, must have maintained a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all course work undertaken (except those courses graded S or U), and must have passed a Qualifying Examination before a committee appointed to administer that examination.  The Qualifying Examination Committee will administer the oral examination sometime after April 30 in the Spring Quarter of the second year of enrollment and before March 31 in the Winter Quarter of the third year of enrollment to determine if the student is qualified for advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree based on the criteria above.  If circumstances are such that the qualifying examination cannot be taken before March 31 in the third year, the student must submit a written request with justification for a delay and proposed examination date to the Advising Committee.  It is the responsibility of the student and major professor to ensure that the qualifying exam is taken in a timely fashion.

The student must file the appropriate paperwork with the Office of Graduate Studies and pay the candidacy fee in order to be officially promoted to Ph.D. Candidacy.  Refer to the Graduate Council website for additional details regarding the Doctoral Qualifying Examination at  

F. Annual Dissertation Committee Reports (form)

After passing your QE, you are required to meet with the Dissertation Committee at least once a year. The annual report form will be due by June 30.

G. Graduate Students Annual Progress Reports

These are Graduate Studies forms which must be submitted to the GGG office before July 1.

Designated Emphases

The Integrative Genetics and Genomics Graduate Group also has two designated emphases: Biotechnology (see ) and Translational Research (see

Laboratory Rotation Programs

Rotations are encouraged but not required. Ph.D. students may enter the IGG committed to a specific faculty member or may enter unassigned and rotate through three or four laboratories during their first two quarters prior to deciding on a faculty sponsor. If a student enters uncommitted, then they must enroll in two quarters of GGG 205.

TA Requirement

Ph.D. students are required to serve as a teaching assistant for at least one genetics-oriented lecture or laboratory course prior to advancing to candidacy in order to gain experience in teaching genetics. A list of appropriate courses that fulfill this requirement will be assembled and approved by the Advising Committee. The Advising Committee will have the discretion to approve particular courses for individual students on ad hoc basis.