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Dear Prospective and Incoming Graduate Students



The University of Arizona Genetics Graduate Interdisciplinary Program (GIDP) has a long and illustrious history, been highly ranked and well regarded by the Genetics field, and has trained many outstanding scientists. If you are considering a career in science in which genetics plays a central role in your intellectual life, you should look closely at this program and its many strengths. The Genetics GIDP will provide you many options in your career, and it will put you on a path for future success.


Interdisciplinary Values

GIDPs transcend departmental boundaries by facilitating cutting edge teaching and research where traditional disciplines interface. The fusion of ideas, techniques, and expertise from the traditional academic fields provides for the evolution of modern and imaginative methods of research. The Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs are an integral part of the mission of the University of Arizona, and student enthusiasm for the GIDPs programs is one of their strongest characteristics. In 2017, GIDPs produced 8% of all Ph.D. degrees at the University of Arizona. Faculty participating in GIDPs develop strong partnerships with academic and research institutes campus-wide, state-wide and nationally. Currently, 61 faculty from 14 colleges and 108 departments are actively involved in GIDPs at the University of Arizona. This strong network of cooperative relationships signifies the intellectual fusion put into practice through The University of Arizona’s GIDPs.


History, Reputation, and Values


Since 1963, the University of Arizona Genetics GIDP has educated, cultivated, and encouraged the development of students in the field of genetics to be leaders in the scientific professions, in both the academic and industrial arenas, and contributors to the public good. Over 60 doctorates in Genetics precede you. These former students teach, lead research laboratories, advance applied research in biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, and work in other science-related areas. Some have go on to acquire degrees in medicine and law to expand their capabilities. Altogether, they have earned reputations of excellence. We celebrate their achievements, and their efforts serve as a strong foundation for you to build upon.



The faculty of the University of Arizona Genetics GIDP is distinguished, including nationally recognized teachers, scholars and researchers. We have included on this website a list of Faculty with whom you can study to pursue a degree in Genetics. Because we are an interdisciplinary program, these faculty members have appointments in many different departments, which are themselves in different colleges at the University of Arizona. This arrangement reflects the way in which genetics impacts many other scientific activities across campus. We are embedded across the entire biological sciences enterprise; the Genetics GIDP is a central facility for the coalescence of these faculty. At the University of Arizona, you will have the opportunity to study with these faculty, become involved in their research projects, and to develop intellectual partnerships that will foster your personal and professional development.


Nathan Ellis is the current Director of Graduate Studies, having taken the post in 2018. Cora Varas-Nelson is the program administrator. She works with the Genetics students to ensure interactions with the Graduate College and their home deparments go smoothly, and she helps organize events and classes for the program. Faculty and staff of all levels share a strong commitment to the University of Arizona and our students.



This year, we have been revising the genetics curriculum. A critical element of the new curriculum is CMM 518 Modern Genetics, which is a new course required for all genetics students pursuing their doctorate in the program. This course is focused on genetic mechanisms and chromosome mechanics, building off the classic work and bringing it to the present. It is a foundational course.


The students are encouraged to take additional courses in genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics. A graduate course in biochemistry is highly recommended for some genetics students. The program has a second core course in genomics and bioinformatics under development. Please see the Classes page for more information.


We ask the students to take our combined seminar and discussion class GENE 670 which features internal and external seminar speakers, journal club presentations by the students, and work-in-progress sessions for students to present their on-going research investigations.


If a student enters the Genetic GIDP by direct admission, we ask the students to rotate through at least three laboratories to get a feel for the types of research that will comprise your thesis. If a student enters the Genetic GIDP through the Arizona Biological and Biomedical Sciences program, the student will have already rotated through three labs and she is not required to rotate any further.


Arizona's research laboratories offer a rich array of opportunities. You can work on the genetics of bacteria, plants, insects, rodents, and human beings. Projects have implications for control of infectious disease, feeding a hungry world, understanding basic developmental processes, and understanding human genetic disease in animal models.



The intellectual power and wide ranging experiences of your fellow students will elevate and inform your education. At the University of Arizona Graduate College, the students bring to the educational process outstanding intellectual abilities, impressive academic credentials and very diverse personal experiences. Your fellow students will inspire, motivate and befriend you.


We encourage students to share their various work, educational and cultural experiences with the genetics graduate program community. The demanding educational experience at the University of Arizona is characterized by a collegial rather than a competitive environment, and is highlighted by the informality and friendly atmosphere found in the Southwest. Students play an integral part in the governance of the Graduate College through the Graduate and Professional Student Council, which promotes the academic, economic, and social aims of graduate and professional students of the University of Arizona and advocates on their behalf, as well as graduate student representation on GIDPAC.


University and Tucson Environment

The Genetics GIDP derives great intellectual strength and interdisciplinary perspective from the diverse academic resources of the University of Arizona. In addition, excellent library facilities and computer resources, world class museums, good health services and insurance benefits, and a wealth of cultural activities -- from opera to basketball games -- are available to you as a member of the University of Arizona community. The life of a great university becomes part of your life as a graduate student at the University of Arizona, from lectures by Nobel Laureates to the thrills of national basketball and softball championships to stargazing on the University Mall with renown astronomers. Click here and choose from one of the many tours of the University.



Students are generally supported for their first year in the program and are thereafter supported by the lab Principal Investigator. Students are encouraged to apply for funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, or appropriate philanthropic agencies to gain valuable experience in grant applications and to develop skills needed for a career in the sciences. Students can apply for additional support through fellowships offered by the Genetics Program or from other University of Arizona graduate education and research grants for predoctoral studies. Students that work with Principal Investigators that are part of NIH-funded training programs, such as the Cancer Biology T32, can apply competitively for this funding. The Graduate College can also arrange Teaching Assistantships to provide support for tuition and stipend costs. There are additional fellowship/scholarship opportunities available for specific purposes such as travel to scientific conferences, including the Zukowski Travel Award, which is intended specifically for Genetic GIDP students, and the Herbert E. Carter Travel Award exclusively for students in GIDPs.


Expected Student Learning Outcomes for Genetics GIDP

Upon completion of a graduate degree in Genetics students will:

  1. Demonstrate a strong knowledge of research methods.
  2. Demonstrate strong knowledge of analytical and statistical procedures.
  3. Be able to describe, critically evaluate, and apply theoretical perspectives within genetic/genomic studies.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of current and cutting-edge research in area of specialization within genetics/genomics.
  5. Be able to communicate effectively in-person to a variety of audiences (e.g., students, scholars).
  6. Be able to communicate effectively in writing as evidenced in written assignments, manuscripts, etc.

Please feel free to contact the Genetics program chair, Nathan Ellis or (520) 626-7979. We welcome your interest, offer encouragement as you begin the admissions process and wish you success in your genetics graduate program career.

Graduate Coordinator, Genetics GIDP 520-626-1452

Last updated 30 Sep 2019