To sample the wide range of research areas represented in the ACCESS/BSP Program and make an informed choice about their Ph.D. adviser and individual research program, students carry out three laboratory rotations during their first year, one during each ten-week quarter. In most cases students match with a lab after three rotations. In rare cases, students may do an additional rotations during the summer following the first year.
In the fall and winter quarters students take a two-course series in biochemistry, genetics and molecular cell biology. These courses involve active student participation in small group-based discussions focused on the primary literature. These courses emphasize problem-oriented learning, research approaches, and data interpretations as opposed to the fact-based learning common in undergraduate curricula. The goal is for students to develop the skills needed to address novel questions in biology by reading and critically evaluating the primary literature. Students are also required to take 6 units of elective courses based on their research interests, usually in the spring quarter, from a list that includes offerings for each Home Area. A course in ethics and accountability in biomedical research is also required in the spring quarter. Exceptions to the ACCESS/BSP curriculum are possible upon approval by the Home Area adviser.
In the week prior to the start of the fall quarter, students gather for a series of activities designed to set the stage for a productive and stimulating graduate school experience.
* Students are encouraged to apply for prestigious graduate fellowships from sponsors such as the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Applications are usually due in the fall quarter. Interested students are assigned faculty writing coaches who work with the student and their research adviser to prepare competitive fellowship applications.
At the end of each academic quarter, ACCESS/BSP students meet with the Program Director and staff for an informal review of the past quarter and provide feedback used to improve the program.