1st & 2nd Year Students

Due August 1st of each year. The IDP is intended to help you i) design, monitor, and measure progress in training, ii) articulate short- and long-term goals, and iii) identify relevant developmental activities. Your advisor, or your advisory committee, is an invaluable resource in this process, providing feedback and helping you to generate an action plan.


BGS requires all of its predoctoral students to be trained in i) Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR), and ii) Scientific Rigor and Reproducibility (SRR).

Training in RCR is achieved through lecture, web-based programs, small group workshops, and RCR-focused lab meetings. Training places an emphasis on the involvement of faculty and satisfies requirements set by the NIH for individual fellowships and training grants.

Training in SRR is achieved through lecture and SRR-focused lab meetings. Training similarly places an emphasis on the involvement of faculty and satisfies requirements set by the NIH for individual fellowships and training grants.

PhD student requirements

MD-PhD student requirements


Students will rotate with faculty during their first one or two years of study with the aim of finding a dissertation advisor. 

  • Students must rotate a minimum of three times with at least two different faculty before declaring their dissertation advisor
    • A student cannot rotate more than five times and must have declared a dissertation advisor by the end of spring semester of their second year
  • Students will present their results of their rotations at the end of each semester in fifteen minute "chalk talks".
    • These will occur in the summer during new student orientation, in the spring at the end of April, and in fall in early December. 
    • The student's rotation advisor must be in attendance. 






Each Master's and PhD students is required to complete an MS thesis.   MD/PhD students are excluded from this requirement.

Thesis research will begin during the summer following the students' first academic year. 

  • In early June, the Biostatistics program chair will send out a list of MS thesis projects and advisors
    • Students will select their advisor/project by mid-July and confirm their choice with the program chair and program coordinator
  • During their first semester, students will be registered for BSTA 9200 (pending): Guided MS Thesis Research
  • Students will not be registered for a MS thesis credit during the spring semester, but will continue working on their projects
  • In mid-April, Students will give a 20 minute presentation on their MS thesis to faculty and students
  • All students receiving their MS will apply for their degree, make a deposit appointment, and deposit their thesis.
    • Students should apply before they present even if a grade/result has not yet been given by their advisor
    • PhD students receiving their non-terminal MS will apply for their degree via "Add MS Thesis to PhD"
    • Deadline vary, but are typically in late April-the first week of May. Exact dates will be posted to the Graduate Degree Calendar.
    • Students should follow Penn's MS thesis formatting guidelines



PhD students are required to present a lecture on a current project in the spring semester of their second year of study. 

  • The format of these sessions will be up to you. Suggested formats include:
    •  A work in progress talk with slides (~30 min) followed by time for questions and feedback
    • An overview presentation of existing literature on a specific topic with time for discussion of future research questions
    • A journal club style session in which the student distributes a paper in advance and leads a discussion of this paper
    • Other formats are also acceptable as long as the presentation or discussion relates to your ongoing research on a lab rotation or pre-dissertation research
  • Students can use works-in-progress sessions to practice a presentation for a conference, candidacy exam, job talk, or dissertation defense.
  • The presenting student's is required to attend, as are all second year students.