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Cancer Biology (PHD) 
Program Description

The Cancer Biology Graduate Interdisciplinary program leads to a Ph.D. degree in Cancer Biology. The Program allows students to focus their training in several related disciplines which have in common research faculty studying various aspects of cancer biology. A MS is not offered.

Department/Academic Unit(s)

Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs -

The Graduate College sponsors several Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs (GIDPs) in addition to the many interdisciplinary possibilities available through regular graduate degree programs. GIDPs transcend departmental boundaries by facilitating cutting edge teaching and research at the nexus of traditional disciplines. The high value placed on interdisciplinary research and education is indicative of The University of Arizona's enthusiasm and commitment to fostering innovation and creativity among its faculty and students.


Graduate College/GIDP  
Campus where offered
Main Campus - Tucson  
Admissions Contact
Laura M Farrell-Wortman
Graduate Program Coordinator
Laura M Farrell-Wortman
Director of Graduate Studies
Margaret M Briehl
Graduate College Degree Counselor
Christina M Inocencio
Tuition and Fees
Please refer to the UA Bursar's Office Tuition and Fees Calculator for up-to-date information about tuition and fees. 
Please refer to the UA Registrar's's Office Special Course Fees for up-to-date information about special course fees. 

Admissions Information

Admissions Requirements

GRE (Subject optional)
3 letters of recommendation
Statement of purpose

Standardized Tests

Required test(s):
Required GRE Subject tests:
Recommended tests: GRE,GMAT,MAT
Recommended GRE Subject tests:
Minimum GRE Verbal:
Minimum GRE Quantitative:
Minumum GRE Written:
Minimum GMAT:
Minimum MAT:
Minimum TOEFL: 550
Minimum IELTS: 7

Financial Aid

Financial aid is available through the NIH T32 Cancer Biology Training Grant, Graduate Research Assistantships, fellowships and donated funds. All students admitted to the ABBS program are supported financially. After 3 rotations a research advisor will be determined and this advisor will provide the financial support.

Admissions Deadlines

Domestic Applicants:

  • Fall: December 1

International Applicants:

  • Fall: December 1
International Conditional Admission
International applicants will not be considered for conditional admission by this program.
Other Information
The GRE Institution Code for The University of Arizona is 4832
ETS Major Field Code(s) for this program: 0206
NRC Taxon(a) for this program: Cell and Developmental Biology, Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Disease, Pharmacology, Toxicology and Environmental Health

Completion Requirements

Degree Requirements

Minumum credits: 0
Core coursework: Core courses must be completed and awarded a Grade of A or B during the first two years in the program.
See Other Requirements for Successful Completion of the Program below for more details.
Language requirements:
Other requirements: Cancer Biology Graduate Interdisciplinary Program satisfactory academic progress guidelines

Year One:
Complete first year core courses, no less than a B grade
Rotate through at 3-4 laboratories to identify a research lab, complete lab rotation evaluation
Attend final oral defense of fellow students
Participate in student research meetings and Spring recruiting

By July 1 of first year:
Identify research advisor and lab
Select minor
Complete annual evaluation for meeting with Progress Committee

Year Two:
Complete second year core courses, no less than a B grade
January 1 identify research project area and, with mentor, select potential supervisory committee members
By March 1 contact committee members and plan first committee meeting, plan for preliminary exam (no later than the end of fifth semester)

Years 3-5 (average time to complete Cancer Biology degree is 4.5 years)
Complete dissertation research and publish results in at least one peer-reviewed journal
Limit of 7 years for completion of degree

Core Courses:
Must be completed in the first two years (or with permission of Chair)
Grade of B or better

Annual Evaluation
Provide annual report to Progress Committee at meeting at the end of Spring semester

Comprehensive exam:
Written exam: NIH-formatted research proposal. Guidelines are in the CBIO student handbook and samples are in the CBIO office.
Oral exam: Defense of the written proposal (either inside or outside proposal) followed by questions from committee on general knowledge of cancer biology and minor.
Pass criteria: Student presents research proposal and answers questions from supervisory committee demonstrating scientific knowledge and critical thought.
A student may attempt the preliminary examination a maximum of two times at the discretion of the examining committee. Failure in both attempts result in automatic dismissal from the Ph.D. program. A second attempt at the oral examination must be scheduled within six months following the first oral examination and no earlier than four months.

Core courses complete by end of fourth semester
Research laboratory identified by July 1 of first year
Comprehensive exam no later than end of fifth semester
Final oral defense no later than seven years from start of program


Minor Requirements

A minor in Cancer Biology requires 9 units. A review of the minor plan with the Program Chair is highly encouraged before classes are taken.

Student Handbook  

Program StatisticsInformation about these numbers

Program-level Information
Application Acceptance Rate n/a
Med. Time-to-degree (years) 5.00
Department-level Information
Enrollment Percent Male 41%
Enrollment Percent Female 59%
Enrollment Percent International 17%
Enrollment Percent URM 17%

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Last revised 06 Jun 2016