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PhD Programs

For the research phase of their training, Northwestern University Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) students select their PhD thesis advisers and thesis committee members from over 300 graduate faculty members in 14 departments of four schools of Northwestern University.

Umbrella PhD Programs

These programs include faculty from multiple departments:

Interdepartmental Biological Sciences (IBiS) Program

IBiS provides the resources and training environment necessary to promote the development of PhD students into independent, creative research scientists and teachers. The program includes faculty from diverse science and engineering departments throughout Northwestern.


Driskill Graduate Program (DGP) in the Life Sciences

The Walter S. and Lucienne Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences is an interdisciplinary biomedical PhD program that gives students the flexibility to pursue a variety of research interests, dual degrees and specialized tracks.


Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neuroscience PhD Program (NUIN)

NUIN is an interdisciplinary and collaborative program offering students access to state-of-the-art resources for neuroscience research. Though it is fundamentally a research-oriented PhD program, students must satisfy a rigorous set of course requirements in addition to completing a thesis. 

Meet the Faculty

Health Sciences Integrated PhD Program (HSIP)

HSIP offers doctoral student training across multiple disciplines within the health sciences, spanning from informatics and program evaluation to implementation science and outcomes research. PhD students have the opportunity to focus on their choice of four tracks.


Department-Based PhD Programs

These programs are some of the most commonly chosen by MSTP students:

Biomedical Engineering Program (BME)

The BME PhD program emphasizes advanced coursework, hands-on teaching experience and world-class research at the forefront of the broad disciplines of biomedical engineering. Students are trained to become leaders in research and development in industrial and university settings.



Chemistry PhD students receive broad training that prepares them equally well for careers in industry or academia. Northwestern’s chemistry department enjoys strong ties with the chemical industry: Approximately 60 percent of our alumni hold industrial positions.

Chemical and Biological Engineering (ChBE)

ChBE fosters entrepreneurial research activities. PhD students work with top scientists who are organized in three areas: biotechnology, bioengineering and complexity; materials and nanoengineering; and energy and sustainability.

Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)

The PhD program in materials science and engineering was the first in the world. Graduates follow a number of career paths. They work in academia, national laboratories, find industry jobs, work for the government and work for non-profits.


Next Steps

Each laboratory can be associated with one or more umbrella or departmental PhD program. The student chooses the laboratory first and the PhD program next, based on preferred course offerings and other training opportunities. Significant course credit is given to MSTP students so that the course requirements are minimal: three or more courses for IBiS, DGP and NUIN; five or more courses for chemistry; and six or more courses for BME, MSE and ChBE.

In addition to these PhD programs, there are numerous interdepartmental training programs, centers and institutes that afford additional training activities such as symposia, seminar series, special conferences and retreats.

Applicants interested in pursuing a PhD in a program offered by Northwestern but not listed here are welcome to apply to the MSTP. Applicants interested in these alternative PhD programs will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require coordination with the PhD program of interest for consideration. Please contact the MSTP office with questions on coordinating with these PhD programs during the application process.