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PBIO Graduate Education

The Department of Physiology & Biophysics does not accept direct applications to their graduate program without the prior approval of a member of the department. Prospective students with an interest in Physiology & Biophysics are encouraged to apply to one of the several interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs at the University of Washington, all of which provide high quality training in a wide range of research areas. Students in these programs are free to explore the possibility of working with any Physiology & Biophysics faculty member. The list of the interdisciplinary programs include the following:

Graduate Program in Neuroscience

Biological Physics, Structure and Design

Medical Scientist Training Program

Molecular and Cellular Biology

Program Overview

Due to the broad nature of the research interests in the department and the diversity of backgrounds of our graduate students, formal course requirements are kept to a minimum and are completed in the first year. Students are encouraged to shape their own graduate education, as they choose the majority of their coursework and the scientific direction for their research. The courses available include those offered by other departments, both in the Medical School and elsewhere on campus.

First-year students also complete three lab rotations, which assist in choosing a lab to complete their thesis research. During the second year students begin their thesis research, act as teaching assistants for two quarters, and take elective courses. 

Students form a Supervisory Committee after they choose a lab to conduct their thesis research. This committee is generally formed during the second year of graduate studies and assists the student in identifying possible thesis topics and additional coursework if needed. Students hold annual meetings to discuss their progress and get feedback from their committee. 

During the third year students take their general examination. The general exam consists of an oral presentation of the thesis proposal to members of the Supervisory Committee, followed by an oral examination. Success in this examination marks the beginning of the candidacy for the doctoral degree. Thereafter, students focus on their thesis research and take courses based on interest and relevance. The culmination of the program is the submission of a written doctoral thesis and the presentation of this work in a public lecture attended by members of the department and the University.

For further information about our courses and requirements see Ph.D. Program Requirements

Financial Assistance 

All of our students are supported for the duration of their studies with a fellowship that exceeds the NIH predoctoral stipend level and is very competitive with our peer institutions (the current stipend level is $3,750/month or $45,000/year). However, applicants are encouraged to apply for National Science Foundation or other fellowships. Health insurance is available to eligible students at no cost, and to their families at a modest cost. Every effort will be made to help place working spouses and partners. 


On-campus housing options for graduate students are plentiful and varied. Singles and families are encouraged to contact Housing & Food Services for information.

Off-campus housing is available within walking distance of the university. More remote housing can be used even by students without a car since Seattle has an extensive bus system and bicycle paths that radiate in all directions from the university.