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The First Year: Research Rotations & Selecting a Thesis Advisor and Program

Clinical & Population Health Research program students: Please speak to your Program Director for more information.

Basic Biomedical Science students: The information outlined below is not all-inclusive. Please familiarize yourself with all of the requirements as outlined in the Student Handbook

Research Rotation and Thesis Advisor Commitment

There are three research rotation sessions – one in the fall and two in the spring semesters.  See Academic Calendar for exact start and end dates. 

Rotation sessions are seven to eight weeks long, with some variability in length to accommodate observed holidays and academic events.  The fall rotation will take during a pause in the Scientific Inquiry in Biomedical Research (BBS 614) course, while the spring rotations run concurrent to electives courses.

Rotation placements will be determined by the Umbrella Program Director (UPD) based on the ranked lists of preferences from each student, while also distributing amongst the array of available rotation/thesis labs.  A ranked list of at least 3 rotation lab will be collected prior to each rotation from each student.  These lists are due on September 19th, for the first rotation.

Students are required to rotate in three distinct research groups.  

After completing three distinct rotations, student should have identified a thesis research Lab.  In rare cases where a thesis research commitment was not identified, a summer rotation is possible, with approval from the UPD and the Dean.

Students who worked in paid or unpaid research settings at UMass Chan prior to matriculation, including students in the PREP program, are not permitted to rotate with their previous mentor prior until the third rotation session, following two rotations in other distinct labs.  

Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences provides financial support for all students through the entirety of their first academic year, regardless of when a student commits to a thesis research group. 

On May 12th, students will submit to the UPD their priority ranking for thesis research placement.  The UPD working with the Dean will then finalize placements based on student preferences and faculty input

Tips for Finding Research Rotations

  • Search the rotation database. Faculty listed have self-identified as having rotation opportunities and thesis funding available.
  • Attend faculty research presentations (poster sessions, flash talks, etc.) organized by the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
  • Having tentatively identified a potential rotation/thesis advisor and after reading some of their publications, ask to meet with them to discuss thesis research opportunities. When you meet, be prepared to discuss their science, the science you have undertaken thus far and the courses you have taken.
  • Speak with other students in the faculty member's team to understand more about the research environment you would be immersed in for the next several years.
  • Remember that First Year Advisors and Program Directors are available to advise you about rotation and thesis mentors.

Selecting your Program

Program Selection forms (BBS15) are due by June 1.

All Basic Biomedical Science students must complete the core curriculum as well as three graded elective courses of 2-4 credits each, including those required by their program for specialization.
View course sequence for Basic Biomedical Science doctoral students.

Program Specialization Requirements

For guidance on program requirements or expectations, please review individual program webpages or contact the appropriate program director(s).

Administrative Requirements

Students must initiate a Research Rotation Agreement (BBS14) for each research rotation. The agreement automatically circulates to all required signers after the student completes their portion. It is due within 2 weeks of the rotation start date.
Preview BBS14  |  Initiate BBS14 in DocuSign

Students must initiate a Thesis Advisor and Department Financial Agreement (BBS05) once a Thesis Advisor has been selected. The agreement automatically circulates to all required signers after the student completes their portion. 
Preview BBS05  |  Initiate BBS05 in DocuSign 

Students must initiate a Program Selection form (BBS15) by June 1 of year one. The form automatically circulates to all required signers after the student completes their portion. 
Preview BBS15  |  Initiate BBS15 in DocuSign


Ask Annette Stratton
Assistant to the Dean
First Year Administrator

Ask Dr. Zitzewitz
Foundations Course Director

Ask your First-Year Advisor