The Ph.D. program in Anatomy and Cell Biology prepares the student for a career in independent research and/or teaching. The Ph.D. is typically followed by postdoctoral training in a specific field of study. Graduates of this program have obtained positions in industry, government, and consulting, as well as faculty positions at the college, university, and medical/graduate school level.

Students who obtain a Ph.D. in Anatomy and Cell Biology are required to achieve the following expectations:

  • Become knowledgeable in the areas of study included in the IGPBS (Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in the Biomedical Sciences) core curriculum.
  • Obtain in-depth and up-to-date expertise in a specialized area of knowledge that is appropriate for the field of your dissertation research project.
  • Make original and high quality contributions to the scientific literature in your chosen research field.
  • Become familiar with the scientific literature through general and specialized journals in biological research, and to develop the ability to critically evaluate the original research in your own and related fields.
  • Become skilled in organizing and communicating information in oral presentations, and to respond to critical questioning.
  • Develop clarity, conciseness, and precision in writing, to aid in grant application writing, and publication of your original research results.
  • Learn how to ask incisive scientific questions and gain experience in the design, performance, and interpretation of laboratory experiments and observations.
  • Gain familiarity with the preparation and writing of grant applications.
  • Prepare for the teaching as well as the research aspects of an academic career.
  • Obtain instruction in research skills and responsible scholarship.

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 - GRE Scores NOT APPLICABLE TO THE IGPBS.
  • 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, and interview. 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 Ph.D.

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 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.
  • Successful completion of the Oral Comprehensive 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 ANAT 999 Doctoral Dissertation the semester the student will defend dissertation and graduate.
  • Successful completion of the Final Oral Examination (dissertation defense.)
  • 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 Anatomy and Cell Biology courses:
    ANAT 845Graduate Histology3
    ANAT 885Seminar1
    ANAT 890Graduate Research1-10
    ANAT 900Analysis of Scientific Papers1
    ANAT 990Doctoral Research1-12
    ANAT 999Doctoral Dissertation1-12
  • Students must be continually enrolled in ANAT 885 Seminar and ANAT 900 Analysis of Scientific Papers each fall and spring semester beginning with fall semester of their second year. These two courses may be waived for one semester after the student has completed all departmental requirements other than the dissertation defense.
  • Successful completion of a minimum of two (2) credit hours of elective coursework related to specialized interests.  Electives are chosen in consultation with the student's advisor.  Electives may be chosen from this list or students may select electives from courses offered by other departments.
    ANAT 846Advanced Neuroscience5
    ANAT 847Developmental Neurobiology2
    ANAT 848Molecular Mechanisms of Neurological Disorders3
    ANAT 868Advanced Developmental Biology2
    ANAT 869Grant Writing3
    ANAT 870Research Methods and Advanced Technologies in Biomedical Research1-3
    ANAT 880Advanced Topics: _____1-5
  • Successful completion of two hour-long presentations in the regular departmental seminar series (or an equivalent seminar approved by the graduate education director) are to be given in two separate semesters, not including the one in which the student defends.
  • Gain teaching experience by assisting in selected courses that are chosen in consultation with the student's advisor and the graduate education director.

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
ANAT 8851ANAT 8453ANAT 8901-6
ANAT 8901-6ANAT 8851Oral Comprehensive Exam may be scheduled as early as this semester if approved by committee to proceed.
ANAT 9001ANAT 8901-6 
Form and schedule first meeting with Research Advisory Committee.ANAT 9001 
 3-8 6-11 1-6
Year 3
ANAT 8851ANAT 8851ANAT 9901-6
ANAT 8901-6ANAT 9001 
ANAT 9001ANAT 9901-6 
Oral Comprehensive Exam must be completed by December 31.First hour-long seminar presented. 
 3-8 3-8 1-6
Year 4
ANAT 8851ANAT 8851ANAT 9901
ANAT 9001ANAT 9001 
ANAT 9901-6ANAT 9901-6 
18 hour postcomp enrollment completed Summer Year 3 if Oral Comp passed Summer Year 2 - begin reduced enrollment Fall Year 4.Second hour-long seminar presented. 
 3-8 3-8 1
Year 5
ANAT 8851ANAT 8851ANAT 9991
ANAT 9001ANAT 9001 
ANAT 9991ANAT 9991 
Final Oral Exam (dissertation defense) may be scheduled as early as this semester if approved by committee to defend and graduate.   
ANAT 885 and ANAT 900 may be waived for one semester after the student has completed all departmental requirements other than the dissertation defense.   
 3 3 1
Total Hours 31-71

A Ph.D. in Anatomy and Cell Biology signifies that the holder is prepared for entry into a career in independent research and/or teaching. Therefore, graduates must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of classroom and/or laboratory situations. In this manner, all students admitted into the Anatomy and Cell Biology Ph.D. program must meet the following abilities and expectations:

  1. Observation: The candidate must be able to observe demonstrations and experiences in the basic sciences, including, but not limited to, biology demonstrations in animals, cultures, and microscopic studies of tissues in normal and pathologic states. A candidate must be able to observe and analyze experimental detail. Observation necessitates the functional use of the senses of vision and touch.
  2. Communication: A candidate should be able to communicate, to understand, and to observe lectures and laboratory instruction. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively in order to present and analyze research data. Communication includes not only speech, but also reading and writing. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with students, staff, and faculty.
  3. Motor: Candidates should have sufficient motor function to carry out lab techniques. A candidate should be physically able to do laboratory procedures and analyze data. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.
  4. Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities: These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of scientists, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, the candidate should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.
  5. Behavioral and Social Attributes: A candidate must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the completion of research and teaching responsibilities. Integrity and motivation are personal qualities, which are required for success in science.