The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Interdisciplinary Scientist Training Program - PhD

Division: Biological Sciences
Degree Type: PhD

Program Description

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute offers two programs leading to the Ph.D. based at its Janelia Farm Research Campus, in partnership with the universities of Cambridge and Chicago. These accelerated programs are designed for a small number of well-prepared, highly committed, and gifted students. We offer opportunities for interdisciplinary research in an intense environment.

Most students spend one year at their chosen partner institution followed by three years of research work at Janelia Farm. If you join the program you will have two mentors: one at Janelia Farm and one at the partner university. You will fulfill all the academic requirements of your chosen partner university and your Ph.D. thesis will be examined there. 

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Application Method

Applications should be initiated through the online application. Paper applications are not accepted.


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: January 4

Campus Visits

Campus visits and interviews are not required. Contact the department for more information.

Degree Objective

Janelia Farm admits applicants only for the Ph.D. degree.

Application Requirements

  1. GRE Scores
  2. English language proficiency scores (optional for english speaking countries)
  3. Curriculum vitae
  4. Research proposal to preferred group leader (less than 500 words)
  5. Current and previous research experience (less than 500 words)
  6. Transcripts from all institutions attended after high school should be uploaded with the application
  7. Three references


Admissions Decisions

Admissions decisions are emailed in early March. No decisions will be given by phone or email.

Program Requirements

After accepting our offer of a place, you will return to Janelia Farm in September for a brief period of orientation with your Janelia mentor and develop a written plan for your first year of work. The starting point for this will be your research proposal. This “Individual Education Plan” (IEP) must be agreed to by yourself, both mentors, and the Janelia and university heads of the program (your committee). You will then depart for your chosen partner university (usually) for your first academic year to execute the IEP under the supervision of your university faculty mentor. This plan may include formal coursework and/or research as specified by the regulations of the university partner and as agreed to in the IEP.

Each academic year will end with a research symposium to bring you together with both of your mentors and the other members of the programs. You will give a talk to the collected students and mentors on your progress and plans. You will also have a committee meeting to review your success in the execution of the past year's IEP and to compose and agree on your next annual IEP. If needed, your IEP may be modified mid-year, with the consent of your committee. The symposium will rotate between Janelia Farm and the two university partners.

There are also specific requirements at each partner university. In most cases, after the first year at the partner university you will return to Janelia and execute your second-year plan. At the end of your research project and with the consent of your committee, you will write and submit a thesis for examination at your chosen partner university.

Costs & Financial Aid

Stipend of $33,000 per year, as it is held equivalent to the NSF stipend.  Also included: Health insurance, plus other benefits.