Graduate Training

After a minimum of two research rotations, students select a faculty mentor for their PhD training. As described on the Rotations & Advising page, the Program Directors work with each student to provide guidance and advice in the selection of rotation and PhD training laboratories or mentors. While the majority of MSTP students earn their PhD in the biological sciences or in the Samueli School of Engineering, some pursue their PhD through individual degree granting programs (e.g., chemistry, anthropology, history, and others). The average length of PhD training for MSTP students at UCLA is four years.

The choice of graduate program follows from the choice of mentor, since students obtain their PhD degree either in the mentor’s department, or in an interdepartmental program to which the mentor belongs. The MSTP administration assists all MD2 year students in the process of registering for graduate school.  Most graduate programs in the biological sciences will waive a portion of the first-year coursework for MSTP students based on coursework in the MD curriculum. In the social sciences, students work with the MSTP Associate Director for Social Sciences to design a flexible curriculum that meets all degree requirements. In School of Engineering and other programs outside of the Graduate Program in Biosciences umbrella (e.g., Chemistry), MSTP students will be required to take the same course load as other departmental graduate students. The MSTP Directors work with departmental graduate advisors to coordinate curricular requirements for MSTP students. The MSTP discourages students from working as Teaching Assistants, except as required by their graduate program. The specific course and examination requirements for all UCLA departments and interdepartmental programs can be obtained by following the links to each specific departmental program listed on the Academic Programs page of the UCLA Graduate Division website. Modified requirements for MSTP students can be obtained by contacting the departmental Student Affairs Officer.

MSTP students in the Caltech program obtain their PhD degrees through graduate programs in one of six Divisions: Biology and Biological Engineering; Chemistry and Chemical Engineering; Engineering and Applied Sciences; Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy; Geological and Planetary Sciences; and Humanities and Social Sciences. The specific requirements for each of these graduate programs can be obtained by following individual links to these divisions and their programs from