Academic Structure

The BGS academic structure is described below.  Additional information is provided in the BGS Leadership Organizational Chart.

Director of Biomedical Graduate Studies

The Director of BGS is a full-time faculty member at the University who serves as the senior administrative officer for the BGS program and also holds the title of Associate Dean for Graduate Education in the Perelman School of Medicine. The Director has responsibility for administrative oversight and academic leadership of the program. A job description for the BGS Director is here

The mission of the Office of the Director of BGS is to oversee and administer all aspects of the training of PhD candidates in biomedical science and to assure the continued high quality of the student body and their training experience. The Office is responsible for the effective coordination and collaboration of the efforts of the several graduate groups in predoctoral training.

Biomedical Graduate Group Chairs

Each graduate group appoints a chair, usually by an election of the group’s membership. In general, chairs hold renewable three-year terms. In addition to administering graduate group affairs, chairs serve on the Biomedical Advisory Committee (see below) and various ad-hoc BGS committees. At the University level, the duties and responsibilities of graduate group chairs are described in the University Faculty Handbook. The BGS graduate group chair job description is available here.  Some graduate groups appoint a vice chair to assist the chair.

Biomedical Advisory Committee

The Biomedical Advisory Committee is advisory to the Director of BGS. It is chaired by the BGS Director and composed of the chairpersons of the BGS graduate groups. Additional faculty representing the Combined Degree Programs, and the University's Graduate Council of Facilities also serve. The committee meets monthly throughout the academic year to develop policies and consider program changes.  

Biomedical Admissions Committee

This committee consists of representatives from each graduate group. It meets approximately six times each year between January and March to review and rank all applicants who have been interviewed and nominated for acceptance by the BGS graduate groups.

Biomedical Curriculum and Academic Standards Committee

The Biomedical Curriculum and Academic Standards Committee consists of a representative from each graduate group. It meets three times per year to monitor the quality of BGS courses, promote the development of new course offerings, and review the academic performance of students in the first two years of training.  Proposals for new courses are first developed and approved at the level of the graduate group and then submitted to BGS via a new course proposal form.  

School and University Administrative Structure

The Director of BGS reports to the Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine through the Executive Vice Dean and Chief Scientific Officer and to the Provost through the Vice Provost for Education.

Dean and Executive Vice Dean and Chief Scientific Officer of the Perelman School of Medicine

BGS is formally administered through the Perelman School of Medicine, which provides BGS with office space, an administrative budget, information technology support, and general oversight. BGS’ administrative budget covers most of the salaries of the BGS administrative staff and graduate group coordinators; salary supplements of the BGS Director and the graduate group chairs; graduate group recruitment costs; and general operating costs for the BGS and graduate group offices.

Provost and Vice Provost for Education

The Provost is the chief academic officer responsible to the President for the conduct, coordination and quality of the University's academic and research programs. The Vice Provost for Education oversees educational programs and University-wide educational policies that govern teachers and students at Penn. S/he chairs the Council of Undergraduate Deans, the Council of Graduate Deans, the Graduate Council of Faculties, and the Council of Professional Master's Degree Deans.

Council of Graduate Deans

The Director of BGS serves on the Council of Graduate Deans, an advisory body to the Provost and Vice Provost for Education. The Council consists of the Graduate Deans of the nine schools offering the PhD and research masters degrees. The Graduate Deans provide advice on administrative matters affecting the larger University graduate student community, such as recruitment and retention.

Graduate Council of Faculties

Two members of the Biomedical Advisory Committee represent the BGS faculty on the Graduate Council of Faculties. The Graduate Council is an advisory body to the Provost and Vice Provost for Education and is chaired by the Vice Provost for Education. The Graduate Council assists in the evaluation of graduate programs by participating in or conducing periodic reviews; advises on policy matters related to the well-being of graduate education; and advises concerning University-wide admissions and degree requirements for the PhD, AM, and MS degrees. The Graduate Council also certifies for the Trustees the candidates for the award of those degrees.