The first year is spent completing a common curriculum including course work, journal clubs, and seminars that have been designed to provide students with the broad academic training necessary to excel in biomedical research.The common courses are each taught by faculty from multiple departments promoting collaboration among students and faculty. Simultaneously with course work, all first year graduate students are exposed to the departments as they are required to rotate in 3 different laboratories during the first year. Rotations are done over one quarter (typically Winter), with 4 weeks spent in each lab. Rotation students are expected to become fully integrated into the laboratory so they are exposed to primary methodologies and research approaches of different mentors. Students choose a mentor and a department at the end of the spring term. Students may join one of 7 graduate programs underneath the PMCB umbrella:

All graduate students are supported by stipends provided by the School of Medicine and by their research mentor.

During the second year, students complete course requirements for their selected department, participate in a journal club and initiate explorative research to identify possible thesis topics. While students have opportunities to present seminars both to their department and to the school, they take courses in writing and speaking in the second year. At the end of the second year students must pass the qualifying exam and advance to candidacy. They transition fully into their chosen basic science department and begin full-time thesis research in the third year, after they have advanced to candidacy.