PhD in Biomedical Sciences

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Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University offers a PhD program for students wishing to acquire scientific knowledge and technical skills in the focus areas of Clinical Sciences, Infectious Diseases, Human-Animal Interaction, Neuroscience and Reproductive Biology, and Pathology

Curriculum

Students in all tracks complete up to 24 didactic credits depending on their academic background.  Didactic credits consist of three required courses with the remaining courses completed as electives and tailored to address gaps in prior training and/or to better prepare the students for their research and career goals. Students are also required to attend a weekly journal club and seminars given by faculty members or invited speakers, and to present seminars based on their research activities.

  • PhD students in all the tracks will be registered for BMS 603 (Research) every semester, and for BMS 607 (Journal Club) every fall and spring semester. Credit is awarded for Research and Journal Club and does not count toward the required didactic credits.

  • Guided research on a topic suitable for a doctoral dissertation.

  • Students, along with faculty members, participate in a weekly Journal Club in which they discuss a paper from the current literature. The emphasis is on critical analysis, identifying the reasons that the research is significant, and understanding how the findings extend current knowledge. Students take this course every semester.

  • Most elective courses are taken on Tufts’ Medford and Boston campuses, and at Boston University, Boston College, or Brandeis University through a consortium arrangement.

    Students enrolled in the PhD program may choose courses from the veterinary curriculum listed below to fulfill their electives or to enhance their basic scientific knowledge if deemed necessary by the Thesis Advisory Committee and approved by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. These courses are cross-listed with the BMS prefix.

    • VET 102 - Veterinary Biochemistry and Metabolism - 3.0 credits
    • VET 137 - Cell and Tissue Types - 2.5 credits
    • VET 109 - Immunology - 2.0 credits
    • VET 112 - Applied Molecular Biology - 1.0 credit
    • VET 122 - General Pathology - 1.5 credits
    • VET 135 - International Veterinary Medicine - 1.0 credit
    • VET 201 - Microbial Pathogenesis - 3.5 credits
    • VET 203 - General Parasitology - 3.0 credits
    • VET 216 - Applied Epidemiology & Evidence-based Medicine - 1.5 credits

The following mandatory courses, in addition to an intermediate/advanced-level biostatistics course to be determined in consultation with the student's advisory committee and the Graduate Program Manager, count toward the required ten didactic credits.

  • This is an elementary course in statistics, designed to give an overview of the basics of statistical analyses, including probability theory, distributions, and hypothesis testing. It is a core course in the graduate curriculum, and as such the prerequisites are the same as those for entry into the graduate program. Topics to be covered include probability and sampling theory, frequency distributions, and hypothesis testing. Some hands-on exercises using statistical software are also offered, but it is anticipated that more advanced applications will require additional instruction. It is the instructor’s objective to familiarize students with central concepts and to save in-depth discussion of methodologies for advanced courses. When it is practical, however, students are encouraged to suggest topics for discussion and review.

  • The aim of the course is to discuss acceptable, unacceptable and controversial aspects of research ethics and responsibilities of a researcher. Students enrolled in the course participate in the discussions of topics using a case-based approach. The course topics include:

    1. Experimental techniques and the treatment of data
    2. Conflict of interest
    3. Publication and openness
    4. Allocation of credits and authorship practices
    5. Error and negligence in science
    6. Misconduct in science
    7. Use of animals in research
    8. Responding to violations of ethical standards

Research Tracks

Clinical Sciences

The overarching goal of the Clinical Sciences PhD Track is to develop the next generation of clinician scientists and to provide opportunities for veterinarians with an interest in conducting research in translational medicine.

Infectious Disease

This track aims to prepare scientists to become future research and academic leaders in the field of infectious diseases. Emphasis is placed on the interactions of pathogenic and opportunistic microogranisms with the normal and immunodeficient host.

Human-Animal Interaction

This track focuses on training students in cutting-edge methodology focused on assessing the outcomes of human-animal interactions. This program focuses on topics such as human-wildlife interaction, the health effects of pet ownership, and animal-assisted interventions as a therapeutic modality.

Neuroscience & Reproductive Biology

This track trains students to become leaders in the field in preparation for careers in research and academic medicine. The program focuses on the role of reproductive biology and neurobiology in the fields of veterinary and human medicine.

Pathology

This track focuses on comparative pathology and translational medicine and is limited to students with a DVM or currently enrolled in a DVM program. The founding philosophy of One Health in the training of health professionals drives our commitment to maintaining a strong program. 

PhD Degree Requirements

Admissions

Admission to the PhD program is based on an evaluation and recommendation by the PhD Program Committee. An interview will be required for all finalists at the request of this committee. Additionally, all references will be contacted directly to confirm support for the candidate and verify their skill sets. The dean of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University admits applicants to the program based upon these recommendations.

The PhD program is intended for applicants who have already earned a D.V.M., M.D., M.S. or other post-graduate level degrees as well as strong applicants with a science-related bachelor’s degree. All degrees should be from an accredited college or university. Although there are no specified prerequisite courses, it is expected that competitive applicants will have taken courses similar to the prerequisites for admission to the Tufts DVM program, as well as additional courses specific to their proposed area of graduate study. Students applying to the Clinical Sciences or Pathology tracks must have a DVM degree or are in a DVM program.  Students applying to the Human-Animal Interactions (HAI) track, must have the M.S. degree in Animals & Public Policy or equivalent post-graduate degree.

Admission of PhD students (unless student brings funding through a training grant) requires that the student become ‘matched’ to an appropriate faculty member with the funding necessary to provide a stipend to the student and having the resources to support a PhD Dissertation project (~4 yrs.) within their lab. Each year, the PhD Program Committee identifies faculty able and willing to become mentors to new PhD students and then seeks to match qualified applicants to the PhD program with the most appropriate faculty members based on the applicants’ prior training and future goals. It is thus helpful (but not required) for applicants to clearly describe their career goals in their personal statements, and to explain how research performed by specific members of the PhD program faculty would provide useful training towards achieving those goals.

Information for applicants from foreign countries is below.

  • Applicants to the PhD program must submit the following materials by February 1:

    • Application for Admission
      An online application for all applicants to the PhD program is available for your convenience.
    • Application Fee
      A non-refundable application fee of $75, which may be paid by credit card through the online application.
    • Academic Transcripts
      Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. This includes separate official transcripts for all foreign exchange or semester abroad programs, and transfer credit from other institutions that appear on the primary transcript.

    If currently enrolled in an academic program, please submit an official transcript of work completed to date. When additional grades become available, please submit an updated transcript.

    Please have all official transcripts sent electronically to vetadmissions@tufts.edu or mailed to:

    Office of Admissions
    Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
    200 Westboro Road
    North Grafton, MA 01536

    • Official GRE Scores
      Results from the General Test of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine recipient code for the GRE is 3893. Scores are valid for five years. Additional information can be obtained on the GRE website.

    Although the Educational Testing Service now allows options for reporting GRE scores to graduate and professional schools, Cummings School has not changed its requirements. When applying to Cummings School, you must submit all of your GRE scores from all of your test administrations. You may not decide to send certain scores only. This means that if you have already taken the GRE and you need to request scores for your application, you must choose the ScoreSelect All option. If you plan to take the GRE again between now and our November 1 application deadline, you must choose the ScoreSelect All option on your test day. Please note that this option is free—there is no charge when you select this option on your test day.

    • Letters of Evaluation
      Three letters of evaluation from individuals qualified to evaluate the applicant's potential to engage in and complete a graduate research program. Two of these letters should be from individuals with positions at academic institutions and with whom the applicant has worked.

    All evaluators will be contacted directly by the admissions committee to confirm support and to verify skill sets.

    • Statement of Research Experience
      Applicants are expected to include in their application a statement describing their research experience.
    • Applicants from Foreign Countries
      In addition to all of the aforementioned application requirements, foreign applicants must also submit:
      • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, in their original language.
      • Attested English translations of all transcripts, if applicable.
      • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) if their native language is not English or if they have not graduated from an institution at which the curriculum is taught in English. The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine recipient code for the TOEFL is 3499.

Contact

Kate Margory Beckett
Graduate Program Manager

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
200 Westboro Road
North Grafton, MA 01536

508-887-4376
508-887-4820

kate.beckett@tufts.edu