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 2017-2018, GIDPs produced 10% 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, 73 faculty from 6 colleges and 27 departments are actively involved in the Genetics GIDP 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 gone 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.


Leading the Program is Nathan Ellis, the current Chair having taken the post in 2018, and Keith Maggert, who is the Vice Chair as of January 2020. Victoria Klocko is the program administrator. She works with the Genetics students to ensure interactions with the Graduate College and their home departments 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.


The Program continues to revise and update the genetics curriculum. One of the strengths of the Program is the flexibility it gives to its students to tailor their curriculum to their needs. Apart from the graduate seminar and research ethics, CMM 518 Fundamental Genetic Mechanisms is the only required course for students pursuing a degree in the program. This course provides a foundation of genetics concepts at the graduate level through analysis and discussion of the primary literature.

The students are asked to take additional courses distributed in the areas of genetics and genomics. Graduate-level courses in biochemistry is also an option. Please see the Curriculum Requirements page for more information. In 2020, the Program is reinvigorating its MS Program in Genetics. Additionally, the Program is committed to building and organizing resources in bioinformatics, offering a certificate for a concentration of coursework in this area. 

Degree-seeking students take 8 semesters of the Graduate Seminar, GENE 670 Recent Advances in Genetics, 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 Genetics GIDP by direct admission, we ask the students to rotate through at least three laboratories to expand their experience in research and to identify a faculty member who matches best with their learning style and interests. 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. The Program also allows students to apply directly to conduct their dissertation work with a designated faculty member.

Arizona's research laboratories offer a rich array of opportunities. You can work on the genetics of virtually any model system, study the interplay between genetics and evolution, hone your skills in genomics and bioinformatics, tackle problems in human disease or agricultural genetics. 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. In the Graduate College of the University of Arizona, 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:

Learning outcome 1

The student develops a comprehensive knowledge of genetics. This knowledge includes technical methods; research approaches; analytic, bioinformatic, and statistical procedures; fundamental mechanisms; and philosophical principles relevant to genetics and to biology as a whole.

Learning outcome 2

The student can develop and carry out a research project. Some of the facilities that go into this outcome include (i) definition of a biological question and construction of testable hypotheses that constitute a productive research direction; (ii) development of a research plan that applies conventional and innovative methods, constituting rigorous investigational approaches; (iii) ability to critically evaluate data from the literature and from the lab, using applicable and appropriate theoretical genetic and biological concepts; and, (iv) systematic and comprehensive integration of knowledge.

Learning outcome 3

The student is able to communicate results and conclusions from research projects in oral presentations and in writing.

Learning outcome 4

The student learns to conduct research ethically.


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

Email our Graduate Coordinator