Pathobio retreat 2017

Program Details

Program Overview

The Pathobiology PhD Program provides a strong background in pathology and related basic sciences leading to a PhD in Pathobiology. Students are prepared for academic, research, teaching, and biotechnology careers in the translation of basic biological principles to solve specific disease problems.

We train the next generation of PhDs in biomedical science that is directly relevant to human medicine and health care. Our training uses evidence-based approaches modeled after the active learning strategies of the Johns Hopkins Medicine medical student Genes to Society curriculum.

See How Our Program is Unique

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Stipend & Benefits

Our PhD students pay $0 in tuition and are provided a yearly stipend. The stipend for the academic year 2020-2021 is $35,608. We also provide health, dental and vision insurance for students.

At the beginning of the second year, the mentor assumes support of the student. The estimated yearly expenses per student covered in full by the University is $100,870.

Timeline by Semester

The average time to degree for Pathobiology PhD students is 5.65 years. During this time, you will participate in rotations and courses, our journal club—which trains students to assess scientific publications—and an annual one-day Pathobiology retreat replete with student poster presentations, alumni and faculty research talks and a keynote speaker.

Follow the timeline below and read the course descriptions to see how you will spend your time during each semester of the program.

Requirements for Graduation

Applicants and accepted students are not required to designate a specific programmatic area of interest at the time of application or matriculation, and laboratory rotations across multiple disciplines are typical for students in the Program. However, special funding opportunities may be available for applicants with commitment to a particular discipline.

Students are expected to abide by the Graduate Student Honor Code, the School of Medicine Academic Integrity Policy, as well as the policies of their individual graduate programs.

A Complete List of Requirements to Get Your PhD

  1. Pass all Required Core courses (B or above). Students with C grades must re-take courses. The tutorial support of students with remedial coursework by students in Pathobiology is excellent. We have never had an academic crisis with students.
  2. Successfully complete three (3) rotations in different laboratories. Each rotation conducted during the academic year must be at-least three months in length and be appropriately documented and evaluated by peer-review of seminars.
  3. Successfully pass the doctoral board oral exam with no outstanding conditions. The Oral Examination (GBO) tests the breadth and depth of the graduate student’s scientific knowledge and readiness to begin thesis research. These exams are administered by the Pathobiology program through an oral examination committee comprised of 5 faculty members. The exam takes place during October after the student has completed all required first year courses.
  4. Annual discussions between the PhD student and their advisor to discuss (a) the student’s academic progress and next steps; (b) the student’s professional development goals and any next steps; (c) how the advisor can be helpful regarding each. Discussion details will be recorded on thesis meeting forms and filed by the program coordinator.
  5. Successfully complete one (1) approved elective course per year beginning with the second year of graduate studies. Course approval as an elective course for Pathobiology students should be obtained from the Pathobiology director before enrollment in the course.
  6. Complete Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research course. Training in research reproducibility is a priority in Pathobiology given the current needs. This course is offered through the Office of Graduate Biomedical Education.
  7. Successfully complete two translational rotations. This aspect of the program is unique because it is not found in other graduate programs at JHU. Each Translational Research course is designed to acquaint graduate students in approaches that are used clinically. Students broaden their education by carrying out patient related activities.
  8. Receive approval for writing dissertation from thesis committee. Most students have about 4 thesis committee meetings.
  9. Submission materials for Program completion: student's updated CV; abstract with a title page and a separate page listing the names of dissertation referees; letter of approval from two dissertation readers; approval of final dissertation from library and all final grades.
  10. Submit all materials to School of Medicine Registrar for approval by the MA/PhD Committee.

Additional Expectations of Students

All students are expected to read and follow the Graduate Student guidelines from the School of Medicine.

Courses, Rotation & Thesis

Students will take all core courses listed as required in Course Descriptions per their academic year, unless otherwise determined by the Program Directors. Course waivers are available for Johns Hopkins MSTP students and post-DVM fellows who join the Pathobiology graduate program. Please contact Dr. Lee Martin ( and Stacey March ( with questions regarding course waivers. Students will refer to their individual academic year Student Handbooks for specific academic and procedural requirements. These can be found on the Program Intranet.

Award of the PhD Degree at Johns Hopkins

From the Doctor of Philosophy Board website:

There are three fundamental requirements for the Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University: dissertation, residence, and oral examination. None of these requirements can be modified or changed without unanimous consent of the schools and the Provost.

  1. Dissertation: All Ph.D. students must successfully complete a dissertation in accordance with relevant school and program guidelines prior to degree conferral.
  2. Residence: All Ph.D. students must successfully complete one academic year (two consecutive semesters) of full-time study, on campus, prior to degree conferral.
  3. Oral Examination: All Ph.D. students must successfully pass a required oral examination conducted by five faculty members. The oral examination must include at least two members from outside of the candidate’s home department, one of whom serves as chair of the examination committee.

It is university policy that all program and university requirements for the Ph.D. must be completed in 9 years or less from start of the doctoral program. The Doctor of Philosophy Board reviews all candidates for the Ph.D. prior to conferral to ensure that the fundamental requirements for the Ph.D. have been met within the timeframe delineated.

Students of Faculty Who Leave the School of Medicine

Students whose thesis advisors/mentors have left Johns Hopkins may continue their project under the Johns Hopkins faculty member and graduate with a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins if they meet all requirements. The thesis advisor/mentor must continue their financial obligations (stipend, insurances, and supplies). If a student moves out of state with the mentor, the student is still considered a Johns Hopkins graduate. The student can waive Johns Hopkins health insurance if covered by a similar plan at the mentor's institution.

It is desirable that students working outside the country or at distant sites within the country return to Johns Hopkins for thesis advisory committee meetings. However, if that is not possible, students will submit written progress reports yearly which will be evaluated by the thesis advisory committee. The committee will then send a written evaluation of the document to the student and place a copy of the evaluation in the student's Pathobiology file.

PhD Student Employment & Consulting

Full-time PhD students are expected to devote their entire professional effort to completion of the degree requirements for their graduate programs. Accordingly, employment and/or consulting by full-time graduate students, for organizations other than Johns Hopkins University, is ordinarily not allowed.

When a graduate student has completed all course work and oral exam requirements and has progressed sufficiently toward completion of the dissertation requirements, he or she may request an exception to this policy. (The procedure for initiating such a request is available in the Pathobiology office.) In no case should such an exception commit the full-time graduate student to an outside commitment in excess of sixteen (16) hours per week. Students are reminded that adherence to this policy and full written disclosure of proposed outside employment is considered part of their commitment to abide by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine honor code.

How to Apply

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