The Doctor of Philosophy or the Ph.D. is the highest degree received in graduate study. This degree involves the pursuit and creation of new knowledge with the intention to share it, have it challenged, and tested. Individuals can pursue the Ph.D. in virtually any field in the sciences including biomedical engineering, chemistry, physics or psychology. We will focus on the Ph.D. in biomedical sciences or basic science research. This pathway allows individuals to gain a deeper understanding of how organisms and systems work at the cellular and molecular level.
The deeper understanding of organisms and systems at the cellular and molecular level is the foundation for the development of important discoveries in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Undergraduates who are curious and interested in being on the cutting edge of medical research would find this career pathway rewarding. Additionally, Ph.D. programs in the biomedical sciences provide full tuition and a stipend for all students making satisfactory progress in the program.
The field of research is broad and varied. A Ph.D. program trains an individual how to think critically about problems and solve them in an efficient and effective manner. This training can be applied to many different areas and careers. Individuals with the Ph.D. can work in academia as administrators, deans, program directors, presidents and chancellors. Many run their own labs and supervise and mentor graduate and undergraduate students. Others with a Ph.D. in the biomedical sciences work in industry developing consumer products or materials.
Exposure to the Field, Shadowing, and Volunteering
Students interested in pursuing the Ph.D. in the sciences should plan to conduct research in at least 2 of the 3 summers as an undergraduate to strengthen the graduate school application. Washington University offers the Biomedical Research Apprenticeship Program (BioMedRAP). This is a 10-week summer research programs for students interested in pursuing biomedical research careers and prepare them for top-quality Ph.D. and M.D. /Ph.D. programs. There are many other programs across the country that will provide this type of experience including the National Institutes of Health (NIH).