The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine offers a graduate program leading to the PhD degree including research opportunities with emphasis on developmental biology and cell differentiation, cancer biology, stem cell biology, microbial and viral pathogenesis, gene regulation and experimental pathology. This curriculum is designed for advanced research study in molecular and cellular biology and experimental pathology.

The course requirements of the Pathology Department Graduate Program are designed to provide maximum flexibility for the student's specialized needs. Students enrolled in the program are required to take graduate coursework in fields related to molecular and experimental pathology and to choose electives from either Pathology or other Medical Center departments related to their major dissertation work. After passing the Comprehensive Examination, students will devote most of their time to laboratory experimentation and developing a research project. Substantial portions of the research efforts should result in published works in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The Doctorate of Philosophy in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine provides comprehensive training in understanding the molecular basis of disease and the fundamental mechanisms of cell growth and differentiation. Subspecialized research interests in the arenas of cancer biology, stem cell biology and microbial and viral pathogenesis are supported through required and elective coursework and laboratory activities. A Pathology PhD will afford the student the flexibility of tailoring a course of study towards specific research interests and goals, and prepare the student for a career in advanced academia or positions in industry.


The application process is an online process. Application to this graduate program is facilitated through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (IGPBS). Detailed instructions on how to apply and the application deadlines are posted on the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences website

Admission requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution documented by submission of official transcript indicating the degree has been conferred before entering the program. Official transcripts from institutions attended post-baccalaureate are also required.
    Students with degrees from outside the U.S. may be subject to transcript evaluation indicating the degree is equivalent to a U.S. degree and meets the minimum cumulative GPA requirements.
  • A cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for the bachelor’s degree.
  • Applicants who are not native speakers of English, whether domestic or international, must demonstrate they meet the Minimum English Proficiency Requirement.
  • A background check is required during the admission process; it may affect the student's eligibility to enter the program.
  • An official copy of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score sent from Educational Testing Service (ETS) to University of Kansas Medical Center - ETS institutional code 6895.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Prerequisite coursework:
    • One year of general chemistry
    • One year of organic chemistry or one semester of organic chemistry and one semester of biochemistry
    • One year of biological sciences
    • One semester of calculus
    • One semester of physics
  • Research experience (beyond labs associated with lecture courses) is strongly suggested.
  • Interview - the most qualified applicants will receive an invitation for an interview.

Applicants will be assessed based on a combination of GPA, research experience, interview and GRE scores. Students not meeting the above requirements may be eligible for provisional admission.  After an applicant has been admitted, a program may defer an applicant's admission for one year after which time the applicant must submit a new application.

Admission requirements are subject to change. In most cases, use the catalog of the year student entered the program. Other years’ catalogs».

The program consists of coursework, research experience, and the successful completion of a doctoral dissertation. Dissertation research culminates in a final dissertation examination consisting of an oral presentation by the candidate and an examination by the faculty. Relevant prior graduate work is taken into consideration in setting up individual programs of study leading to the PhD.

Degree requirements:

  • Degree requirements are normally completed within 5 years of admission to the program although a maximum of 8 years is allowed.

  • Cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least a 3.0 for all KU graduate coursework.

  • Successful completion of the University’s Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement prior to the semester the Oral Comprehensive Examination is scheduled.

    • Successful completion of GSMC 857 Biographics, GSMC 852 Introduction to Biomedical Research I and GSMC 855 Introduction to Biomedical Research II (or equivalent) meets the Research Skills requirement.

    • Successful completion of GSMC 856 Introduction to Research Ethics or Stowers Research Integrity course (or equivalent) meets the Responsible Scholarship requirement.
  • Successful completion of the Residence Requirement prior to the semester the Oral Comprehensive Examination is scheduled. The requirement is met by enrollment in full-time status a minimum of two semesters.
  • Participation in faculty advisory committee meetings starting after 12 months in the program. Meetings at six-month intervals are recommended and required every 12 months with greater frequency as the student nears his/her oral comprehensive examination and dissertation defense.
  • Successful completion of the Oral Comprehensive Examination. The examination is expected to be undertaken after the student has completed all requisite and elective coursework and approximately half-way through the program (e.g., 30th month in a five-year program). The examination consists of both a written research proposal and oral presentation and is intended to delineate the student's current fund of knowledge, research skills and ability to progress to a terminal degree in the department. It may be undertaken only after the student’s advisory committee has approved the research proposal and recommended examination. The student will then submit a final version of the written research proposal for approval to his or her mentor, oral comprehensive examination committee and director of Pathology's graduate program a minimum of three weeks in advance of the examination; only when the student has successfully completed this stage will the request for examination be submitted to Graduate Studies for approval to defend (must be at least two weeks in advance of the examination). Students are recognized as formal doctoral candidates after they have passed the comprehensive examination.

  • Successful completion of the Post-Comprehensive Enrollment requirement.

  • Enrollment in a minimum of one (1) credit hour of PATH 999 Doctoral Dissertation the semester the student will defend dissertation and graduate.

  • Successful completion of the Final Oral Examination (dissertation defense).  The student will undertake this examination only after a preliminary draft and presentation of dissertation project has been successfully completed and accepted by the student's mentor and faculty advisory committee. A final draft is required to be submitted at least four weeks prior to defense and is to be presented to the student's mentor, dissertation defense committee and director of Pathology's graduate program. Only when the student has successfully completed this stage will the request for examination be submitted to Graduate Studies for consideration (must be at least three weeks in advance of the examination).

  • Successful Dissertation Submission and Publication (according to Office of Graduate Studies policy).

  • Successful completion of the following Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Science (IGPBS) courses (or their equivalent):
    GSMC 850Proteins and Metabolism2
    GSMC 851Molecular Genetics2
    GSMC 852Introduction to Biomedical Research I2
    GSMC 853Cellular Structure2
    GSMC 854Cell Communication2
    GSMC 855Introduction to Biomedical Research II2
    GSMC 856Introduction to Research Ethics1
    GSMC 857Biographics1
    GSMC 858Introduction to Faculty Research1
    GSMC 859Research Rotations1-4
  • Successful completion of the following Pathology courses:
    PATH 804Selected Topics in Signal Transduction1
    PATH 805Seminars in Pathology1
    PATH 890Research in Pathology
    PATH 990Doctoral Research in Pathology
    PATH 999Doctoral Dissertation1-7
  • Successful completion of a minimum of four (4) credit hours of advanced graduate coursework in fields related to molecular and cellular biology and experimental pathology. Specific courses determined in consultation with the student's advisor.  Recommended courses include but are not limited to:
    Pathology courses (6-8)
    PATH 803Stem Cell Biology2
    PATH 806Epigenetics2
    PATH 912Advanced Topics1-3
    PATH 913Introduction to Grant Proposal Writing (or equivalent)1
    Other Department courses (13)
    ANAT 868Advanced Developmental Biology2
    BCHM 922Advanced Molecular Genetics3
    CBIO 900Carcinogenesis and Cancer Biology3
    PHSL 834Reproductive Physiology5
  • Successful publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal before completion of the degree. The journal and its impact factor is subject to the approval of the student’s mentor.

Students enrolled in the MD-PhD Physician Scientist Training Program should review the Degree Requirements section of this catalog for that program.

Degree requirements and course descriptions are subject to change. Any courses taken as an equivalent must be approved by the Graduate Director and the Office of Graduate Studies. In most cases, use the catalog of the year student entered the program.  Other years’ catalogs».


Typical Plan of Study

Year 1
GSMC 8502GSMC 8532GSMC 8591-4
GSMC 8512GSMC 8542May take an elective course from the student's chosen degree program in consultation with the student's advisor.1-3
GSMC 8522GSMC 8552 
GSMC 8561GSMC 8591-4 
GSMC 8571  
GSMC 8581  
GSMC 8591-4  
 10-13 7-10 2-7
Total Hours: 19-30
Year 2
PATH 804 (required)1PATH 805 (required)1PATH 890 (required)1-10
PATH 890 (required)1-10PATH 890 (required)1-10 
Elective coursework1-3Elective coursework1-3 
 3-14 3-14 1-10
Year 3
PATH 804 (required)1PATH 805 (required)1PATH 990 (required)1-10
PATH 890 (required)1-10PATH 890 (required)1-10 
Elective coursework1-3Elective coursework1-3 
 Comprehensive Oral Examination may be taken during the third year with the approval and recommendation of the student’s advisory committee (normally after the 30th month in the program.)  
 3-14 3-14 1-10
Year 4
PATH 804 (not required but recommended)1PATH 805 (required)1PATH 990 (required)1-10
PATH 990 (required)1-10PATH 990 (required)1-10 
 2-11 2-11 1-10
Year 5
PATH 804 (not required but recommended)1PATH 805 (required)1PATH 999 (required)1-6
PATH 999 (required)1-6PATH 999 (required)1-6 
Final Oral Exam (dissertation defense) scheduled as early as this semester if approved by committee to defend and graduate. Continued enrollment required until graduate.   
 2-7 2-7 1-6
Total Hours: 24-128