Biomedical Graduate Education

The School of Medicine provides advanced scientific training toward graduate degrees in biomedical research in a resource-rich, collaborative environment dedicated to scientific discovery. 

Application to one of the Biomedical Sciences programs must be completed using the UW Graduate School’s central application process. Completing this process, and following the instructions for each specific program, will fulfill applications for both the UW Graduate School and the individual program. An application must be completed for each program to which you wish to apply.




Our applicants typically have strong undergraduate records, as well as previous laboratory experience and demonstrated experimental talents. We encourage applications from students in many different undergraduate majors, because the challenges of modern biochemistry demand interdisciplinary skills. However, most applicants have completed undergraduate courses in calculus, general physics, organic chemistry, biochemistry, or an advanced quantitative science such as physical chemistry.

The first year of the graduate program consists of formal lecture courses, three intensive laboratory “rotations” of three months each, and seminar courses in timely topics ranging from protein structure and function, to molecular and cellular biology. Courses emphasize critical thinking, and frequent faculty contact. Students are free to design individual course schedules that focus on macromolecular structure, biochemistry, or molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. By the end of the first year, students choose a thesis advisor and thesis project, and assemble a thesis committee of three to five faculty members who will provide advice throughout the period of doctoral work. Thesis research dominates the second and third years, although students often take a few additional courses. The department considers teaching experience to be an essential aspect of graduate education, so all students also serve as teaching assistants in two different courses, each lasting one academic quarter.



Our PhD program empowers students to establish expertise in interdisciplinary research, excellence in intellectual leadership and success as independent investigators.

The PhD degree is the most advanced degree offered by UW Bioengineering. Students come to this multidisciplinary biomedical research and engineering program from a wide array of backgrounds, and graduates of the program demonstrate high achievement in bioengineering while excelling in intellectual leadership and independence as a scientific researcher.

What makes UW Bioengineering unique?
– Located in Seattle, epicenter of global health efforts and vibrant local bioengineering industry
– Joint department in nationally recognized School of Medicine and College of Engineering
– Small class sizes translate to increased student success
– World-class research opportunities for every student
– Internationally recognized academic programs at all levels
– Faculty and alumni pioneers of biomedical innovation since the 1950’s
– Supportive, collaborative community


Biological Physics, Structure and Design

The interface between the physical and biological sciences is a rapidly emerging research area. Our program focuses on the study of how the basic molecular components that provide the building blocks of biological systems work.

Experimental techniques are now available that permit the quantitative study of a host of previously inaccessible issues about how proteins, nucleic acids and lipids work. In particular, the ability to manipulate and alter these essential biological components is rapidly advancing our understanding of their structure, the relationship between structure and function, and rules that permit the design of novel macromolecules. Continued progress in these areas demands an interdisciplinary approach, with input from both experiment and theory.

Our aim is to train young scientists to work at the interface of physical and biological sciences. Our program offers a diverse set of research programs and promotes interdisciplinary work through strong interactions between labs in these different areas. The faculty are from diverse backgrounds, but all take a physical and quantitative approach to biological questions.


Biological Structure

The Department of Biological Structure recruits students through interdisciplinary PhD programs at the University of Washington. Faculty of the Department of Biological Structure are affiliated with one or more of these programs that provide high quality training in a wide range of scientific research areas.

These multidisciplinary programs include faculty from the departments of Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Biological Structure, Biology, Environmental Health, Genome Sciences, Immunology, Microbiology, Oceanography, Pathology, Pharmacology, Physiology and Biophysics as well as research groups in the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Browse these sites for each Interdisciplinary PhD program to see which fits your interests:

Biomedical and Heath Informatics
Biological Physical Structure and Design
Medical Scientist Training Program
Molecular and Cellular Biology
Graduate Program in Neuroscience


Biomedical and Health Informatics

The goal of our doctoral program is to train the next generation of researchers to advance the science of Biomedical and Health Informatics. Our emphasis is on the science of Biomedical and Health Informatics, rather than on computer implementations or technology transfer of known methods to biomedical domains. The study of biomedical information leads to a set of core research questions about biomedical data and knowledge representation, knowledge and information retrieval, and information and technology use.

As our trainees strive to answer research questions in these arenas, they will acquire both a breadth of knowledge across informatics aspects of biomedicine and health care, as well as a depth in their particular area of specialization within biomedical and heath informatics. The cross-cutting themes listed on our vision page provide a general vision for our graduate programs (MS and PhD) and the broad themes and goals we value in biomedical & health informatics education.

Our doctoral students are key partners in on-going research efforts at UW BHI. As they progress through our program, we will teach them the skills needed to contribute significantly to our field, and will guide them in their transition from apprentices to valued colleagues.


Genome Sciences

The graduate program in Genome Sciences trains students at the interface of genetics, genomics, bioinformatics, evolutionary theory, and proteomics to prepare them for the challenges of modern biology and biomedical research.

Our goal is to prepare graduates for a variety of exciting careers, including research and teaching in academia, research in the biotech industry, and the communication of science to the public. To achieve this, students learn to address leading edge questions by developing and applying genetic, genomic and computational approaches that take advantage of genomic information now available for humans, model organisms and a host of other species. The program’s centerpiece is extensive research experience within an interdisciplinary and state-of-the-art research environment.

All students in our department will be assigned space in the laboratories of the faculty members with whom they do their rotations or dissertation research. State-of-the-art research facilities are available in the department for cellular, protein, and DNA analysis. Extensive computer resources are also available to students.


Global Health Metrics and Implementation Science

The Department of Global Health, in collaboration with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and Health Alliance International, have developed a PhD program in Global Health that is the first of its kind, building on the expertise of our faculty in the areas of metrics and implementation science. The PhD program provides students with the latest and most innovative tools to advance global health solutions that are critical for decision-making and priority setting.

The PhD program specializes in two areas of emphasis, metrics and implementation science. Metrics is dedicated to providing students with advanced training in independent, rigorous, and timely scientific measurements to accelerate progress on global health by identifying the world’s major health problems, assessing how well society addresses these problems, and guiding resource allocation to maximize health improvements. Implementation science focuses on the systematic application of scientific approaches to ask and answer questions regarding evidence of intervention efficacy to implementation. This science addresses how interventions can be scaled-up with greater speed, fidelity, efficiency, quality, and coverage.

In this unique interdisciplinary program, students develop skills through a combination of didactic courses, seminars, and research activities including primary data collection and analysis. The PhD program is comprised of a core curriculum in advanced quantitative methods, epidemiology, population health measurement, impact evaluations, and implementation science methods.



Our mission is to advance understanding of the function of the immune system in order to enhance our ability to fight infectious disease, cancer, and autoimmune disease. Basic research of all aspects of immunology is critical to this mission, as well as translational research to link our findings to the development of new therapies.

The UW Immunology Ph.D. program provides comprehensive, rigorous training in the discipline of immunology, emphasizing the connections between the immune system and other biological systems in health and disease. The UW Immunology graduate program provides the opportunity to pursue an understanding of immune responses from the cellular, molecular and systems biology perspective, a key starting point for careers in academia, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical research programs.

UW Immunology faculty provide a high-quality educational experience for students through teaching and hands-on research. One-on-one faculty mentorship during a student’s time in the department is a key component to the success of our program. This foundation enables our students to make fundamental discoveries, and serves as a starting point for careers in academic and industrial research programs.



The UW Department of Microbiology was founded in 1915 and the first PhD was awarded in 1930. It quickly became and still remains one of the premier biological science departments in the country. The department has a national reputation for high quality teaching and an international reputation for excellence in research. The department is in the School of Medicine but it is responsible for an undergraduate microbiology major, and a graduate program. More than 30 departmental faculty serve as graduate student research advisors. While the majority of faculty members have research laboratories within the South Lake Union Campus and at the Health Sciences Building, several faculty work at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and at the Northwest Regional Primate Research Center.

Study towards the PhD begins in Autumn quarter. During their first and second years, students take a number of graduate courses in the Department of Microbiology as well as other basic science departments. While all students are required to take several core courses, the program leaves substantial flexibility for a number of elective courses best suited for individual interests. In addition to formal courses, students participate in a departmental journal club and attend the weekly microbiology seminar series. Students are also encouraged to attend seminars offered throughout the academic year by other basic science departments.


Molecular and Cellular Biology

The MCB graduate program encompasses more than 200 laboratories at the University of Washington (UW), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (Fred Hutch), Pacific Northwest Research Institute (PNRI), Seattle Children’s Research Institute (SCRI), Benaroya Research Institute (BRI), and the Allen Institute. And because they’re all located in and around downtown Seattle, students have an immense variety of labs where they can conduct their graduate research. The opportunity to collaborate with these institutions is another reason why UW MCB is one of the premiere places in the world for graduate research studies in the biomedical sciences.

Working at the interface of biophysics and structural biology, MCB faculty seek to understand the fundamental principles governing protein and cellular functions as well as design principles that can be exploited for synthetic biology and next generation therapeutics

The MCB graduate program is designed to empower you to explore the areas of biomedical science that spark your curiosity and passions. It’s an environment where you have the flexibility to choose a final research lab from three rotations, design your own individualized curricula to suit your research goals, and choose two TAships from a wide array of classroom and community-based options.


Molecular Medicine and Mechanisms of Disease

The M3D PhD Program is a collaborative effort among the School of Medicine, Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology, SCRI (Seattle Children’s Research Institute) and Fred Hutch. Thesis research is supervised by two mentors, one a basic scientist (the Research Mentor) and the other a clinician scientist (the Clinical Mentor), enabling students to complement their experimental work with exposure to relevant problems in the clinic. Students may identify Research Mentors from qualified faculty members with a primary appointment in one of those participating departments; faculty from other departments may train M3D PhD students, provided that the faculty member commits to support the student while in training.

The M3D PhD Program trains students to use advances in basic sciences to solve problems relevant to human disease; and to use insights from human disease processes to solve fundamental biological problems. Three core courses focus on mechanisms of disease, the impact of basic science on medicine, and human genetics, providing a rigorous intellectual foundation. Each student participates in Chief of Medicine rounds, and some students may also opt for a mentored clinical rotation in a more focused area relevant to the student’s thesis research. Students choose electives reflecting their own interests from the deep and varied menu offered by UW basic science and engineering departments.



The Graduate Program in Neuroscience at the University of Washington is an interdisciplinary Neuroscience PhD. We currently have more than 170 faculty members with appointments in 27 different academic departments and 5 partner institutes. We have faculty in the School of Medicine, College of Arts & Sciences, College of Engineering, and School of Public Health. Our faculty (and their labs) are in the UW Medical Center, the Health Sciences, Upper Campus, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (FHCC), Harborview Medical Center (HMC), Seattle Children’s Research Institute (SCRI), South Lake Union site of UW Medicine, the Regional VA Hospital/Med Center, and the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

The goal of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience is to produce the best neuroscientists possible. The breadth of our faculty allows us to provide interdisciplinary training drawing from a variety of topics, techniques, and perspectives, including neuroanatomy, biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology, biophysics, pharmacology, in vivo brain imaging (e.g., fMRI, M-EEG), computational modeling and behavior. A graduate of our program will be well versed in the neurosciences, prepared to conduct independent research, and equipped to pursue a variety of career paths.



As a discipline, Pathobiology ties together the fundamental concepts of biology, medicine, and public health, particularly as applied to global health issues. The program applies a multidisciplinary approach as well as the latest research technologies to the study of public health problems such as viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases, as well as other conditions such as cancer.

By investigating the mechanisms underlying multifactorial diseases, our program emphasizes the preventive as well as the curative, and a broader view of disease etiology. The program applies the research tools of immunology, molecular biology, pathology, and genetics to the detection and characterization of cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, and respiratory and parasitic infections.

The Pathobiology Graduate Program offers research and training programs leading to the Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees. Coursework includes basic courses in pathobiology, with additional courses required in epidemiology and molecular biology. Students may also choose electives from other basic medical sciences, such as microbiology, biochemistry, pathology, and genetics.



Pharmacology utilizes cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry, structural biology, biophysics, genetics, physiology, and neurobiology as tools to design and discover new therapeutics and to better understand what happens when the human body is in a disease state. The technical and problem-solving skills developed in our graduate program has prepared students for diverse and fulfilling careers in science and medi­cine that encompass academia, industry, scientific communications, public health, and beyond.

UW Pharmacology is a community of faculty, students, postdoctoral fellows, and staff who work together to create and sustain a supportive and collaborative research environment to advance scientific discovery and education. Students work with faculty mentors to develop individually tailored programs of course work and research best suited to their individual career objectives. Areas of research emphases include:

– Gene Architecture and Action
– Intracellular Signaling
– Molecular Basis of Disease
– Neurobiology and Behavior
– Protein Structure
– Drug Discovery and Precision Medicine


Physiology and Biophysics

The Department of Physiology & Biophysics does not accept direct applications to their graduate program without the prior approval of a member of the department. Prospective students with an interest in Physiology & Biophysics are encouraged to apply to one of the several interdisciplinary PhD programs at the University of Washington, all of which provide high quality training in a wide range of research areas. Students in these programs are free to explore the possibility of working with any Physiology & Biophysics faculty member. The list of the interdisciplinary programs include the following:

Biological Physical Structure and Design
Medical Scientist Training Program
Molecular and Cellular Biology
Graduate Program in Neuroscience

Physiology & Biophysics (PBio) students enter the program from a variety of backgrounds (including physics, engineering, medicine, and neurobiology). This diversity is reflected in the backgrounds of the faculty. The combination of research approaches and techniques represented by these different fields is critical to success in modern biological sciences. Through formal and informal instruction we aim to help each individual student make use of his or her background while also establishing a core of knowledge that all students share.


Rehabilitation Science

Rehabilitation Science is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on human function and disability. Basic and applied research from health sciences, social sciences, engineering, and related fields are directed toward:

– Enhancing physical and psychosocial functioning, participation in life situations, and quality of life of people with disabilities
– Informing relevant social and health care policy

The nationally recognized Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington is offering a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Rehabilitation Science Degree Program. The faculty is committed to respecting students; to creating a climate that encourages creativity and excellence; and to fostering collaboration between students and faculty.

The PhD Program in Rehabilitation Science prepares researchers, educators, and leaders in the area of rehabilitation science to contribute to the development of rehabilitation practice, research, and policy. Graduates of the PhD Program are expected to:

– Demonstrate advanced knowledge and productivity in rehabilitation science specific to research, education, service delivery, and/or policy.
– Demonstrate leadership in interdisciplinary collaboration for the purpose of optimizing research, education, service delivery, and/or policy.
– Generate and extend knowledge that is innovative and rigorously tested within a focused area of rehabilitation science.


MD/PhD students in the Medical Scientist Training Program have access to all of the PhD programs listed above.

Salary and benefits

Most Biomedical Sciences programs guarantee a competitive salary, medical coverage, and tuition waivers to PhD students in good standing according to program policies. In most cases, the Bioengineering program and the Bioinformatics programs provide stipend and tuition waivers or research assistantships to their students. However, this funding is not guaranteed.


Master’s Programs

Applied Bioengineering

The Master of Applied Bioengineering (MAB) is a one year (Mid-August/Early Start to August of the following year), full time professional master’s degree program.

The Master of Applied Bioengineering  trains students to apply engineering design to address today’s clinical challenges and fulfill the market-based demands of industry and medicine for biotechnology.  Students collaborate with world-class faculty from UW and UW Medicine, and local industry partners to transform biomedical research into technologies for improving patient care. Graduates have in-demand skills for work in biomedical industry and translational research.



UW Bioengineering’s thesis-based Master of Science students bring diverse experience from a variety of academic disciplines to solve biomedical problems using basic science and engineering principles while gaining comprehensive research experience.

The Master of Science (MS) is a two year, full time program that prepares students for careers in academia or industry, or to pursue advanced degrees. MS students conduct a significant research project in a faculty lab, and defend a thesis documenting their work. Beyond the research project, MS students complete a year of coursework.



Our flexible two-year, in-residence Master of Arts in Bioethics program provides students with the foundational knowledge, skills, and experience to enrich their careers and broaden their competency in bioethics.

The program offers training in research and clinical aspects of bioethics as well as empirical and normative methods of analysis. Students have the opportunity to study with diverse and well-respected faculty from the University of Washington, the Treuman Katz Pediatric Bioethics Center, and the Seattle Veteran’s Health Administration. The program helps prepare students to teach, publish, and conduct research that incorporates bioethical analysis.


Biomedical and Health Informatics Research

UW’s Biomedical and Health Informatics program is a nationally renowned program that stresses the synergy between teaching, research, and practice. Our Graduate Program (partially funded by an NLM training grant) offers a full-time research focused M.S. program that prepares students for careers in research, teaching and information management in academia, within healthcare organizations, and in the healthcare computing industry.

Our department also provides training, research and service in several educational areas central to medical education including faculty and course evaluation, construction and scoring of tests, curriculum development, implementation of innovative educational methodologies such as standardized patients and web-based simulated patients, faculty development and research consultation.


Comparative Medicine

The Department of Comparative Medicine offers a thesis-based M.S. Degree in Comparative Medicine, which often occurs in conjunction with the Clinical Residency Training Program in Laboratory Animal Medicine (LAM).

The overall goal of the MS program is to train graduate students and LAM residents in Comparative Biomedical Research, which frequently involves the utilization of animal models and cutting-edge research techniques to make significant advances in human and animal medicine. This is accomplished through mentorship with a faculty member and full participation in a hypothesis-based research project that results in the publication of a thesis.


Health Metrics Sciences

In this unique master’s degree, students develop quantitative, data science, and research skills, alongside an understanding of the health metrics concepts, methods, and data sources required to meet the challenge of measuring and improving the health of the world’s population. Graduates will have mastered the technical skills and contextual knowledge required to produce, interpret, and effectively communicate health metrics estimates and research across a diversity of settings.

In this way, the MS in Health Metrics Sciences trains the next generation of leaders and scientists in the expanding field of health metrics and launches careers in helping all people to live long lives in full health.


Laboratory Medicine

The Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology at the University of Washington is the premier resource for education and research in basic and clinical laboratory science for the greater WWAMI region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho).

The Master of Science degree in Laboratory Medicine prepares the graduate for advanced technical and supervisory positions in clinical and research laboratories as well as pharmaceutical, diagnostic, and regulatory industries. Within the field of Laboratory Medicine itself, there are several pathways that a MS student might identify as an area for further education and training while in the MS program.


Pharmaceutical Bioengineering

The Master of Pharmaceutical Bioengineering program (PharBE) is a part-time interactive online degree program designed to enable working engineers, scientists, researchers and professionals in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and related industries to explore advanced education in the areas of drug discovery and design, pharmaceutics and translational pharmaceutics, clinical drug and device development, molecular and cellular biology, pathophysiology and pharmacology.

Using live (synchronous), and pre-recorded (asynchronous) lectures, the program provides a path to acquire new skills, gain an edge in your current job, and receive training to transition to a new career in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industry.


Living in Seattle

The Seattle metropolitan area is a vibrant and dynamic blend of urban living, exciting innovations, and breathtaking natural beauty. Seattle consists of numerous diverse and eclectic neighborhoods that provide a sense of local and walkable communities within a large urban metro. An evolving light-rail and transit system interconnects the neighborhoods and surrounding communities, affording easy access to the many attractions, cultural and sporting events, fine and performing arts, and urban activities within the metro.

Nestled between the Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains, the options for year-round recreational activities abound. Hundreds of miles of trails, lakes, and snow activities are all within an easy day-trip from the metro area. There is always something to do in Seattle.

VIDEO: Welcome to life in Seattle