Ph.D. in Clinical Translational Sciences

Now offered on UAHS Phoenix and Tucson Campuses!

Program Description

The Ph.D. program in Clinical Translational Sciences (CTS) at the University of Arizona (UA) welcomes applications from post-baccalaureate students who have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in a biological or health science discipline and from postgraduate students holding a terminal health sciences degree (e.g., M.D., Pharm.D., Dr.P.H., D.N.P., etc.).

The program is intended to provide the foundation for a research career in the Clinical Translational Sciences.  A CTS Ph.D. student can expect to acquire:
  (a) an adequate base knowledge of biostatistics and CTS coursework that is specific to the student’s health-related discipline or clinical interest;
  (b) experience and training in research, culminating in a major research project for the dissertation; and
  (c) professional development including experience and training in presentation and publication of research findings, preparation of grant applications and ethics in clinical research. 

Ph.D. students also select a minor in a discipline that is relevant to the student’s long-term scholarly goals.  Students complete coursework (usually 9 units, depending on the selected minor) in the minor program in addition to their major coursework.

The mission of the Ph.D. program is to train the student to be a skilled researcher who can successfully address both clinical and basic science aspects of translational research.  The program provides an avenue for the student to gain experience in and exposure to the diverse areas of the clinical translational sciences.  Students also customize their elective coursework to obtain in-depth knowledge in a specific area of health sciences research such as immunology, neuroscience, cardiology, cellular and molecular medicine, pharmacology or oncology.  Courses for the CTS major may be selected from any of UA's Health Sciences colleges:  Medicine, Pharmacy, Public Health and Nursing.  To achieve these goals, each student selects a faculty mentor, contributing to the research done in the mentor’s lab.  The mentor advises the student on appropriate coursework to undertake and guides the development of a specific laboratory or clinical research project that will form the basis of the student’s dissertation.  The faculty mentor provides the resources needed for the student to complete the dissertation project.

Tuition and Fees

Please refer to the UA Bursar's Office Tuition and Fees Calculator for up-to-date information regarding tuition and fees. Note that anyone employed by UA in a benefits-eligible position may also take advantage of the University’s Qualified Tuition Reduction program.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 36 units of coursework toward the CTS major and at least 9 units toward the declared minor (or more for some minors), in addition to 18 units of dissertation research.  All courses must be completed at the graduate level, and at least 50% of the required coursework units must receive regular letter grades (i.e., A, B, C).  A limited number of courses may be transferred from another institution with the approval of the major or minor faculty advisor, and presuming the courses earned graduate or medical credit at the home institution with a grade of B or better.  Students must maintain a grade point average of 3.00 (letter grade of B) or better to remain in good academis standing and be awarded a Ph.D. degree.

Required courses

The courses required for the Ph.D. degree are different for post-baccalaureate and postgraduate students.  The current curricular requirements are available here:

Note: Substitutions for normally required courses may be approved by the CTS Director of Graduate Affairs and the faculty advisor. The remainder of the required units will be accounted for by courses selected by the student’s faculty advisor as relevant to the student’s research interests.

Courses for Minor

When the student selects a minor, he or she identifies a faculty member from the minor program as the minor advisor.  The student will complete a minimum of 9 units of coursework for the minor; some minors require a higher number of units.  The minor advisor must approve the courses the student counts for the minor.

Comprehensive Examination

A CTS student must complete the written and oral portions of the comprehensive examination to advance to doctoral candidacy and complete the dissertation.  The written exam for CTS consists of completion of a NIH NRSA grant application, requiring approval from the student's comprehensive examination committee.  The minor program may also administer a written comprehensive exam, and at least one faculty member from the minor (typically the minor advisor) serves on the comprehensive examination committee.  The oral comprehensive exam is chiefly a presentation and defense of the NRSA application, though the committee members also ask additional questions to ensure the student has broad knowledge of the major and minor fields.


Every CTS Ph.D. student completes an original and significant research project, which is reported in the final dissertation.  The student's faculty mentor and the other members of the dissertation committee guide the student's progress in forming the research question and plan, carrying out the research, and presenting it in the dissertation.  The dissertation committee must approve the dissertation before the student submits it to the Graduate College for archiving to complete the degree.

More Information

For more information, please contact the CTS program at