Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences

Courses and Curriculum


DGP students typically take six courses in the first three quarters of Year One, and eight courses total in Years One and Two. All students take the three core classes (Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology), as well as Statistics.  Beyond these four required courses, students take at least four other courses. Students may take more than eight courses if desired.

During the first year, students also rotate in three different laboratories, under the supervision of leading scientists, allowing them to explore the diverse interdisciplinary research opportunities available and hone their research interests. By the end of the first three quarters, students are expected to choose a thesis lab. Simultaneously, they will choose and begin to participate in the activities of one of the Research Clusters that will provide advanced, more focused, training activities over the reminder of their PhD studies.

In the spring quarter of the second year, students will take a qualifying exam. Upon passing the qualifying exam, students are ready to proceed to complete their thesis work.  The thesis proposal is completed in fall quarter of year three.

DGP Course Offerings Listed by Quarter

The following table lists core and elective courses from DGP, but there are additional courses available at Northwestern.

QuarterCourses Offered
Fall QuarterBiochemistry (required),  Statistics (required), Advanced Immunology, Microbiology, Topics in Developmental Biology, Data Science (Intro to Informatics), Tumor Cell Biology, Receptors and Signaling Mechanisms, Colloquium on Integrity in Biomedical Research
Winter QuarterMolecular Biology and Genetics (required), Cell Biology (required), Advanced Microbial Pathogenesis, Advanced Bioinformatics, Molecular Basis of Carcinogenesis, Topics in Drug Discovery, Structural Basis of Signal Transduction
Spring QuarterImmunology, Virology, Genetics, Introduction to Pharmacology, Science and Society
Summer QuarterIntroduction to Translational Research, Introduction to Life Science Research (Proposal Writing)

DGP Electives and Full Course List

Course NameCourse No.Note
Biochemistry401Required First Year Core
Molecular Biology and Genetics410Required First Year Core
Cell Biology405Required First Year Core
Statistics and Data Analysis for Life Scientists484Required First Year Core
Colloquium On Integrity In Biomedical Research494Required For Second Year Students
Advanced Immunology403Elective
Advanced Microbial Pathogenesis433Elective
Data Science for Biomedical Researchers (Informatics)485Elective
Advanced Bioinformatics (Genome Informatics)486Elective
Topics in Drug Discovery425Elective
Intro to Translational Research422Elective
Intro to Pharmacology420Elective
Receptors and Signaling Mechanisms435Elective
Topics in Developmental Biology456Elective
Macromolecular Structure and Function465Elective
Structural Basis of Signal Transduction466Elective
Tumor Cell Biology450Elective
Molecular Mechanisms of Carcinogenesis480Elective
Science and Society495Elective

Additional Coursework

DGP students may take up to one course per semester in other departments and schools for the duration of their graduate career, including courses offered by other NU schools and programs, including:
Kellogg School of Management
McCormick School of Engineering
Program in Public Health