PhD Programs

The School of Medicine provides a broad range of Ph.D. training opportunities in basic through applied biomedical and social sciences, public health, translational research and other areas. Although each program is unique, all students pursuing Ph.D. degrees complete coursework and an independent research project leading to a dissertation under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Graduates of our doctoral programs are well positioned for national and international positions as postdoctoral scientists in academia and industry, scientific publishing, higher education and numerous other areas requiring highly skilled, critically thinking, creative leaders.

Please see the individual programs below for specific information about doctoral training opportunities in the VCU School of Medicine. Note that the Biochemistry, Human Genetics, Microbiology & Immunology, Neuroscience, Pharmacology & Toxicology and Physiology & Biophysics programs are part of the VCU Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal and have a common admissions process.

Biochemistry

The Ph.D. Program in Biochemistry is designed to prepare students for research-oriented careers in academia or the private sector. Trainees in the program develop a broad knowledge of biochemistry and molecular biology in addition to skills in laboratory techniques, critical thinking, experimental design, and data analysis. Trainees complete an original research project under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The program has nationally and internationally recognized faculty members investigating cellular and molecular signaling, structural biology, eukaryotic molecular biology, lipid and membrane biochemistry, enzymology, and tumor biology. For more information, please see the website for the program or Contact Us. Please also see How to Apply for application instructions.

PhD in Biostatistics

Data are an abundant feature in nearly all professions, from medicine and public health to business and government. As the amount of data available to us increases in both quantity and complexity, the ability to systematically manage, analyze, and interpret data are becoming increasingly important. The VCU Department of Biostatistics has trained biostatisticians for nearly 50 years and continues to help students prepare for an ever-changing landscape. In addition to training in database management and analysis, our students gain experiential training by working with VCU investigators in a collaborative environment. Our Ph.D. students also perform original methodological research projects that address the complexities of modern data analyses. Our graduates are well-prepared to serve as leaders in academia, industry and state and federal agencies. The department offers a Ph.D. in Biostatistics and a Ph.D. in Biostatistics with a concentration in Genomic Biostatistics. For more information, please see the websites for the graduate programs and the Department of Biostatistics or Contact Us. Please also see How to Apply for application instructions.

PhD in Epidemiology

VCU seeks to develop scientists experienced in the use of state-of-the-art research methods for the purpose of advancing fundamental knowledge of issues central to the improvement of population health. Our program cultivates public health professionals skilled in the communication of scientific knowledge and prepared to contribute as members of multidisciplinary teams. Our graduates are equipped with leadership skills necessary to implement transformative research programs and influence equitable health. The program provides annual support for professional travel, resulting in student presentations at refereed conferences, frequently during the first year. Strategic mentoring results in publications in the peer-reviewed literature before graduation. Graduates transition directly to academic positions or employment in government, health care agencies, or corporate positions across a broad range of areas. For more information, please see the websites for the program and the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health or Contact Us. Please also see How to Apply for application instructions.

PhD in Healthcare Policy and Research

The Ph.D. in Healthcare Policy and Research, offered through Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine, trains students to use economic and statistical frameworks and methods to address important health policy issues. In preparation for academic careers or senior research positions in government or the private sector, students receive methodological and policy training supplemented with electives in health services research, economics, statistical methods, decision sciences, organizational theory and other public health domains. The program provides dedicated mentoring to support students as they conduct independent original research and develop individual research portfolios. Students also have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty on research projects throughout their academic experience. For more information, please see the websites for the program and the Department of Health Behavior & Policy or Contact Us. Please also see How to Apply for application instructions.

Human Genetics

The Ph.D. program in human genetics prepares students for life-long careers by developing their knowledge of human genetics and skills in oral and written communication, study design, critical thinking, data analysis and interpretation, working with large data sets, research reproducibility and open science while fostering the student’s development toward being an independent researcher, laboratory director or teacher. Additionally, our program provides students with a core foundation of knowledge which will equip them to carry out translational research and compete for postdoctoral training or clinical diagnostic fellowships slots. A concentration in quantitative genetics is also available as well as an unique dual degree program with a Ph.D. in Human Genetics and a M.S. in Genetic Counseling. For more information, please see the websites for the Human Genetics graduate programs and the Department of Human & Molecular Genetics or Contact Us. Please also see How to Apply for application instructions.

PhD in Medical Physics

The CAMPEP-accredited Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Physics at VCU offers students course work and research training aimed at improving the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases. Research interests include MRI-guided Radiotherapy, MRI Simulations, PETCT Imaging, Artificial Intelligence in Medical Image Analysis, Knowledge-based Planning, 4D Motion Management, and Intensity Modulated Brachytherapy. For more information, please see the website for the program or Contact Us. Please also see How to Apply for application instructions.

Microbiology & Immunology

The goal of the Ph.D. program in Microbiology and Immunology is to prepare students to become creative problem-solvers and leaders in scientific research. Ph.D. students conduct an original, independent research project under the supervision of a faculty advisor, leading to a dissertation. Our students’ research experience is complemented with excellent course offerings providing a core foundation of knowledge, seminar programs, teaching opportunities, presentations at scientific meetings and writing scientific papers and grant proposals. Our department has an outstanding faculty with diverse research interests, extending flexibility to students in their choice of a research mentor. Our graduates are competitive for postdoctoral training positions and are well-prepared to function as independent scientific investigators. For more information, please see the websites for the program and the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, or Contact Us. Please also see How to Apply for application instructions.

Neuroscience

The Neuroscience Program offers an integrated, interdepartmental curriculum leading to the Ph.D. degree. Graduate students train in a laboratory with one of 60 faculty members investigating molecular, cellular, developmental, systems, behavioral or clinical neuroscience while pursuing course work in several foundational areas of neuroscience. The Neuroscience Ph.D. Program therefore provides students with core knowledge in the structure and function of the central nervous system while allowing flexibility in the choice of the students’ advisors, electives and areas of research specialization. Graduates from the Neuroscience Ph.D. Program are prepared for independent research or other leadership careers in academia or the private sector. For more information, please see the website for the program or Contact Us. Please also see How to Apply for application instructions.

Pharmacology & Toxicology

The mission of the Pharmacology & Toxicology Ph.D. Program is to prepare trainees for leadership positions in the biomedical sciences. Trainees pursue graduate course work (including electives in specialty areas) and complete an original research project under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Trainees can pursue research projects in a broad range of areas including neuro-behavioral pharmacology, drugs of abuse, cardiovascular pharmacology, gastrointestinal pharmacology and cancer therapeutics. Graduates from the Ph.D. Program in Pharmacology & Toxicology are prepared for careers as independent investigators and leaders in research and teaching in academia, research and regulatory oversight in government, and research and development in the pharmaceutical industry. For more information, please see the websites for the program and the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology or Contact Us. Please also see How to Apply for application instructions.

Physiology & Biophysics

Doctoral training in Physiology and Biophysics is an individualized enterprise that combines didactic course work, a significant apprenticeship in research supervised by an advisor, and the preparation and oral defense of a dissertation. The goals of the program are acquisition of a knowledge base and the development of analytical, critical thinking, presentation and scholarship skills. Students develop an original research project in one of several areas including molecular biophysics, cardiovascular physiology, gastrointestinal physiology, chemical senses and neuroscience. This program exposes students to important, modern questions addressed via physiological and biophysical approaches at the molecular, cellular, organ and system levels. Graduates from our program pursue diverse careers in academia, government, and industry. For more information, please see the program's website or Contact Us. Please also see How to Apply for application instructions.

PhD in Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS)

The Ph.D. in Social and Behavioral Sciences offers doctoral level training that prepares students to make meaningful, independent scientific contributions to public health. Students in the SBS doctoral program will acquire the skills to become scientists, educators and program administrators in a broad spectrum of healthcare areas and settings. Our program equips students with an understanding of health as the intersection of structural, cultural, social, behavioral and biological factors. The program trains students to design and interpret studies that address the questions that can contribute to the state of the science in public health. Through innovative instruction with an emphasis on applied research and personalized mentorship, students gain the skills needed to make meaningful, independent scientific contributions in social and behavioral science and health. Students have opportunities to work with patients in clinical and community settings and to collaborate with faculty on research projects. For more information, please see the websites for the program and the Department of Health Behavior & Policy or Contact Us. Please also see How to Apply for application instructions.

How to Apply

All prospective Ph.D. students (except for applicants to Epidemiology, Healthcare Policy and Research and Social and Behavioral Sciences) must apply on-line through the VCU Office of Graduate Admissions. To apply to a Ph.D. program, please:

  • Follow the instructions at VCU Graduate Admissions
  • Create your account in the application system
  • Set the School and Program Level filters to "School of Medicine" and "Doctoral"
  • Select the Program or Programs of interest as indicated in the table below
  • Complete the application(s)

To apply to

Select

Biochemistry

Biochemistry - Doctoral Portal or

Biomedical Sciences - Undifferentiated - Doctoral Portal

Human Genetics

Human Genetics - Doctoral Portal or

Biomedical Sciences - Undifferentiated - Doctoral Portal

Microbiology and Immunology

Microbiology and Immunology - Doctoral Portal or

Biomedical Sciences - Undifferentiated - Doctoral Portal

Neuroscience

Neuroscience - Doctoral Portal or

Biomedical Sciences - Undifferentiated - Doctoral Portal

Pharmacology and Toxicology

Pharmacology and Toxicology- Doctoral Portal or

Biomedical Sciences - Undifferentiated - Doctoral Portal

Physiology and Biophysics

Physiology and Biophysics - Doctoral Portal or

Biomedical Sciences - Undifferentiated - Doctoral Portal

Biostatistics

Biostatistics or

Biostatistics-Genomic Biostatistics

Epidemiology

more information

Healthcare Policy and Research

more information

Medical Physics

Medical Physics

Social and Behavioral Sciences

more information

*The first six Ph.D. options have a common admissions process organized by the Biomedical Science Doctoral Portal.

Financial Support, Tuition & Fees

Full-time Ph.D. students typically receive financial support that includes a stipend (currently $30,000 per year) plus tuition and fees for the duration of their training as long as they are making satisfactory academic progress. U.S. citizens and permanent residents should contact the VCU School of Medicine Financial Aid Office for information on financial aid.

VCU School of Medicine Financial Aid Office

Contacts

Please contact the individuals below for additional information about each Ph.D. program.

Program

Biochemistry



Biostatistics



Epidemiology



Health Care Policy Research



Human Genetics



Medical Physics



Microbiology and Immunology



Neuroscience



Pharmacology and Toxicology



Physiology and Biophysics



Social and Behavioral Sciences



Contact

Tomasz Kordula, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-828-0771
E-mail: tomasz.kordula@vcuhealth.org

Russ Boyle, M.A. 
Program Director
804-828-9824
E-mail: russell.boyle@vcuhealth.org

Lisa S. Anderson, MPH
Director of Educational Programs
804-628-2512 
E-mail: lisa.s.anderson@vcuhealth.org

Kate Grant, M.S.
Program Coordinator
804-828-5329
E-mail: kate.grant@vcuhealth.org

Rita Shiang, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-628-4083
E-mail: rita.shiang@vcuhealth.org

William Song, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-628-3457
E-mail: william.song@vcuhealth.org

Lisa Shock, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-628-2289
E-mail: lisa.shock@vcuhealth.org

John Bigbee, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-828-0948
E-mail: john.bigbee@vcuhealth.org

Krista Scoggins, D.V.M.
Program Director
804-828-8400
E-mail: krista.scoggins@vcuhealth.org

Christina I. Kyrus, M.B.A.
Program Coordinator
804-628-5506
E-mail: cikyrus@vcu.edu

Kate Grant, M.S.
Program Coordinator
804-828-5329
E-mail: kate.grant@vcuhealth.org