Jun 24, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2021-2022 
USC Catalogue 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Biology of Aging (PhD)

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Application deadline: December 1

The purpose of the PhD in the Biology of Aging is to provide interdisciplinary research training in an age-centric environment. Students will focus on basic mechanisms of aging as well as translational research related to medical applications. Students will approach aging as a major risk factor for disease.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university preferably in one of the biological sciences. Applicants are evaluated by their transcripts and GPA; scores on the GRE General Test, three letters of recommendation and a statement of interest.

Degree Requirements

Course Requirements

The PhD in the Biology of Aging will provide each student with detailed knowledge and expertise in the biology of aging. The PhD in the Biology of Aging requires the following courses (GERO 600 , GERO 601 , GERO 602a , GERO 602b , GERO 603 , plus 8-10 units from the list of suggested electives or other department approved courses). A minimum of 60 units is required, consisting of formal courses, seminars and research credit. At least 24 of the minimum 60 total units required are to be formal graduate course work (lecture or seminar courses).

Screening Examination

After completion of the core Biology of Aging course work (GERO 600 , GERO 601 , GERO 602a  GERO 602b  and GERO 603 ) during the first year, the student’s degree progress is discussed and evaluated by a screening committee composed of members of the gerontology faculty and the Buck Institute as well as the student’s faculty adviser. The purpose of this written and oral evaluation is to determine competence to continue graduate study and identify areas to be strengthened prior to the qualifying examination.

Qualifying Examination

By the end of the third semester, students should choose a guidance committee consistent with the requirements of the graduate school composed of gerontology faculty, Buck Institute faculty and one outside member. This committee will conduct the qualifying exam and provide guidance during dissertation research. The chair of the committee will serve as the principal adviser. Students should consult extensively with each committee member regarding subjects to be covered in the exam.

The qualifying exam consists of written and oral parts. Both parts must be finished before the end of the fifth semester. For the written exam, the adviser will consult with each of the members of the qualifying exam committee. The written part will incorporate evaluation and synthesis of existing knowledge related to the topic areas, creation of a set of experiments to test a relevant hypothesis, and interpretation of anticipated results. The oral exam consists of an oral defense of the written part and will be conducted with a month of the written part of the qualifying exam.

Doctoral Dissertation

The dissertation is based on original, publishable and significant research conducted independently by the student under the guidance of the dissertation committee. Upon admission to candidacy, a dissertation committee is established which consists of three members of the faculty, some of whom may be from the guidance committee, one of whom must hold his or her primary appointment outside of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

The dissertation committee is responsible for providing guidance and consultation during the research process, approving the dissertation, conducting the final oral examination, and recommending the candidate for the PhD degree.

A Masters Degree in the Biology of Aging is a terminal degree for students admitted into the Biology of Aging PhD program who cannot complete the PhD program for personal or medical reasons. Enrollment of graduate students as master’s degree candidates is not encouraged and is reserved for special circumstances that must be approved by the Gerontology Curriculum Committee. The master’s curriculum includes all course work required of PhD students for a minimum of 40 units.

Foreign Language Requirements

There are no foreign language requirements for the PhD in the Biology of Aging program.

Transfer Credits

Students with a master’s degree of prior graduate course work in biology can petition to apply the credit toward required courses. Petition for credit will be based on the Graduate School’s policies and requirements for transfer of credit and on approval by the doctoral advisory committee. Transfer credits toward the PhD requirements will be limited to 20 units and must be taken within 10 years of entering the program.

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