The University of Michigan

Basic Coursework

Individualized Coursework Selections

The overall goal of coursework is to give CMB students familiarity with each basic area at a level of competence to understand and interpret the current scientific literature. An additional goal of coursework for CMB students is to gain experience reading and interpreting primary literature, typically in a more discussion-oriented setting than traditional lecture-based courses. Students with a degree and/or substantial prior classwork in one of the basic coursework areas (e.g., Bachelor’s in Biochemistry or Genetics etc.) are encouraged to take primary literature-based courses.

Levels of Proficiency:
The following levels of proficiency generally describe the prior background students may have in a particular area to guide them in course selection, and allow more flexibility for students to tailor a curriculum specific to their own backgrounds.

Level 1. No background/coursework in the basic area. An introductory class is recommended; in some cases, this may be an upper level undergraduate course (400-500 level).
Level 2. Some background in the basic coursework area, but not sufficient for Ph.D. training. A mid-level survey course is recommended (500 level – corresponding to current PIBS “core” courses).
Level 3. Graduate-level background has already been achieved by the student, such as graduate level courses or a bachelor’s degree in the area. Courses based on primary literature are recommended.

It is important that students discuss their previous coursework with the curriculum advisers and/or the Director to determine the appropriate level for each basic area. It will be helpful for students to provide recent transcripts and syllabi or descriptions of previous courses when requesting a more advanced level (3). Students should give considerable thought regarding their level of familiarity in each area to ensure that they are sufficiently knowledgeable if proposing to move up a level. Additionally, students should discuss with the mentor whether they should strengthen background in areas critical for their success in their chosen laboratory.