“What…” Wednesday #3

“What…” Wednesday #3

What is your schedule like as a first-year IBGP grad student?

I think this is a really important question to address because even though a lot of grad programs will sound similar in terms of their requirements and focus, the specific logistics of each program can vary greatly.

In the first semester of the IBGP program, all students take the same classes:  Foundations of Biomedical Science, and a journal club course that parallels it called Foundations Conference.  “Foundations,” as the first class is known, meets four mornings a week from 9-11 am, and “Conference” meets two of those afternoons, generally from 1-3 pm.  Wednesdays are free days that students use to get more work done in lab.  An added bonus is that because all assignments (including exams) in these two classes are take-home, there is no need to set aside time to study and the only time work needs to get done outside of class is when an assignment is due.  This generally looks like one homework assignment and two papers to read per week, plus 4 take-home exams and 3 presentations over the course of the entire semester.  This means that there is plenty of time to spend in your lab rotation during the first semester!

Second semester is much different, as this is the semester that everyone begins to take classes focused on their area of interest and the program they are thinking of joining.  This means that your schedule can vary greatly this semester- it all depends on when the courses you want to take are offered and how many courses you decide to take, and because there are so many options, this will look very different for each student.  As such, the amount of time and time of day you have to spend in lab varies much more during the second semester than it did during the first.  Using myself as an example, this semester I have Tuesdays and Wednesdays completely free to spend in lab, but if I can manage to make it over on Mondays it is only for maybe two hours in the late afternoon.  As you can see, the number of hours each day that I can spend in lab is much more variable than it was last semester.

In the IBGP program there are also summer classes that are required during your first summer in the program (for me, that’s this upcoming summer).  Though I haven’t experienced it yet, I can mention what the schedule is like:  there are two required classes (an ethics course [half of the summer] and a statistics course [full summer]) and one class that is highly recommended everyone take (grant writing [the other half of the summer from ethics]).  The first half of the summer, the classes alternate mornings and so equate to about 2 hours per day, 4 mornings per week (M-Th).  The second half of the summer, the classes are back-to-back on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 am-12:30 pm.

So that’s what a first-year IBGP schedule looks like!  During your second year you also will be taking classes, and that schedule will look like a first year/second semester schedule with the main difference being that instead of being in a lab rotation, you will already have chosen your thesis lab and will be working there.


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