First Year

First Year

GSK students sitting at a table in class

New students receive the support they need to choose their research mentor and dissertation topic.

Students arrive on campus at the end of July. After a one-week orientation, they engage in their first five-week laboratory rotation. This rotation is organized prior to arrival on campus, in consultation with the student’s first year mentor and the dean.

The first year mentor meets with the student regularly to provide advice and guidance during the coursework, as well as to assist with the selection of laboratories for additional rotations.

During the first year of study, students complete:

  • the year-long Core Course, consisting of a combination of didactic lectures and discussions of research papers from the primary literature
  • the Responsible Conduct of Research course
  • a mini-course on logic and critical analysis
  • Biostatistics and Computational Biology practicum
  • two semesters of the President’s Research Seminar Series Journal Club
  • the first-year clinical program
  • three five-week laboratory rotations

All students enter our PhD program without a formal commitment to a particular laboratory. This allows our students the flexibility to explore potential research mentors, participate in the first-year curriculum, and learn about new areas of research through meetings with the faculty.

During the first year, students have a home in the Student Center, which is fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology and provides individual study spaces for each student.

Students also visit several clinics as observers. In addition, they attend research seminars at Memorial Sloan Kettering – including the President’s Research Seminars – and meet with the speakers.

Following the end of the spring semester, students are expected to formally choose a research mentor and begin dissertation research.

First Year Core Course Curriculum

2018-2019 Academic Calendar

July 23 Orientation Week
July 30 Laboratory Rotation #1 Begins
August 1 Logical & Critical Analysis Course Begins
August 29 Logical & Critical Analysis Course Ends
August 31 Laboratory Rotation #1 Ends
September 3 Labor Day Holiday
September 4 First Day of Classes
September 7 Laboratory Rotation #1 Symposium
October 8 Columbus Day Holiday
November 21–November 23 Thanksgiving Recess
December 14 Last Day of Classes
December 15 Winter Break Begins


January 1 New Year’s Day
January 2 Laboratory Rotation #2 Begins
January 21 Martin Luther King Day Holiday
February 1 Lab Rotation #2 Ends
February 4 First Day of Classes
February 7 Lab Rotation #2 Symposium
February 18 President’s Day Holiday
April 13-April 21 Spring Break
May 24 Last Day of Classes
May 27 Memorial Day Holiday
May 28 Lab Rotation #3 Begins
May 29 Convocation/Commencement
June 27 Lab Rotation #3 Symposium
June 28 Lab Rotation #3 Ends

The Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences reserves the right to change this schedule. All students and faculty will be notified of such changes prior to their effective dates.