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Genetics and Human Genetics

The Department of Genetics and Human Genetics offers courses leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees . The program is associated with the Departments of Pediatrics and Biology so that students will not only learn to work creatively in their own field of special interest but will also be able to relate their findings to progress made in related disciplines.

Department of Genetics and Human Genetics

The graduate programs in Genetics & Human Genetics are designed to confer the training standards that will develop students for degrees of Doctorate of Philosophy Master’s, and M.D./Ph.D. degree(s). The graduate program is an interdepartmental entity built on a diverse platform.

The program is associated with the department of Pediatrics and department of Biology where students work creatively in their field of special interest but and be able to relate application and relevance to related clinical and science disciplines.


The degree programs are designed to provide a curricular foundation in human genetics for all enrolled students during their first year.Following this, guided by their academic adviser, students elect to pursue their area of interest in genetics . This is accomplished through a combination of elective courses offered in the Department and other departments of the University, as well as in the Washington Area Consortium of Universities. The Masters thesis and Doctoral dissertation research interests likewise can reflect a broad range of interests, provided a suitable research mentor is identified in the graduate faculty. 

This training program design takes into account the fact that genetics is increasingly relevant within the framework of multiple biomedical research and scholarly pursuits. The program design also is intended to foster the important principle of collaborative research and scholarship among biomedical disiplines.


The graduate programs are research-oriented curriculum's in the study of genetic mechanisms related to the transition from normal to disease states and intended to prepare graduates to participate in laboratory research.

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program trains students to become independent researchers in the field of human genetics. Five (5) year (72credit hour) degree program
  • Master’s in Science (MS) program trains students to develop competencies in laboratory techniques, knowledgeable of current trends in Molecular and Clinical Genetics, and capable of analytically discerning Genetic health issues. Three (3) year (36 credit hour) degree program
  • MD/PhD in Human Genetics and Medicine is a combined graduate, non-MSTP, program that allows medical students to pursue PhD work in human genetics. Seven (7) year program



Admission Requirements

To be accepted into the Graduate Program in Genetics and Human Genetics, students must have a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a GPA of at least 3.0 or B equivalent. In addition, students must meet the University requirement(s) to take the Graduate Record Examination (and the TOEFL if applicable).

Students with a bachelor degree may enter the graduate program at the Masters level or directly into the Ph.D. program. Eligibility to be considered for direct admission as a Ph.D. student requires a cumulative GPA greater than 3.2 and prior research and/or training experience in during undergraduate school or during a previous Master’s degree

Applicants are required to submit these items for consideration of acceptance and review of potential for success:

  • Three (3) letters of recommendation a statement of interest in genetics,
  • official transcript(s)
  • and the most recent Graduate Record Examination scores.

Master of Science 

Students wishing to enter the master's program should have a baccalaureate degree and a cumulative GPA average of B or the equivalent. They also should have completed undergraduate courses in modern biology, chemistry through organic chemistry, general biochemistry, mathematics through calculus, and general genetics, or equivalent courses. These prerequisites apply regardless of specialization selected within the master's program.

Students with less than a B average or who have not completed all of the required undergraduate courses may be admitted conditionally if they have very high Graduate Record Examination scores and/or excellent recommendations.​

Doctor of Philosophy

Students may matriculate into the doctoral program, having completed a suitable Master’s degree, provided they present evidence of previous research experience supported by excellent letters of recommendation, and grades above 3.2 average.

Students who do not meet these general criteria may be considered for the master's program as indicated above.

Degree Requirements

The degree programs are designed to provide a curricular foundation in human genetics during their first and second year. Following years students elect to pursue elective courses in their area of interest.

Classes for degree credits are gained through a combination of elective courses offered in the Department, other departments within the University, and from courses offered through the Washington Area Consortium of Universities.

Special Degree Requirements

Master of Science

To confer the degree of Master’s in Science requires;

  • Completion of 36 credit hours in total, 30 credit hours of course work and 6 credit hours of thesis research.
  • Students must pass a written comprehensive examination and defend a research thesis to complete the degree.
  • Successful completion of Graduate School certification programs and requirements


Doctor of Philosophy

To confer the degree of Doctor of Philosophy requires;

  • Completion of 72 credit hours in total, including relevant courses obtained in a master's degree, 51-60 credit hours in courses and electives and a maximum of 21 credit hours related to dissertation research.
  • Students must pass a written comprehensive examination, defend an oral comprehensive exam, and defend a dissertation thesis to complete the degree.
  • Successful completion of Graduate School certification programs and requirements


The College of Medicine and the Graduate School jointly offer an integrated program that leads to both the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees without compromise in the customary substance of each of these degrees individually. Additionally, the curricular emphasis develops in the trainee the unique professional role perspective of the clinician/scientist/scholar. It also develops a particular appreciation for the urgent and unsolved health problems that are present in the population served by the Howard University Hospital and its affiliated clinical programs.

Application Process

Graduate departments that currently invite applications for Ph.D. study in this program are: Anatomy, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Genetics and Human Genetics, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Physiology and Biophysics.

The steps in the application process are as follows:

  • Complete all aspects of the application for medical school.
  • Submit a brief letter of interest in applying for the M.D. Ph.D. programs to the program director.
  • The M.D./Ph.D. program committee will review the application to medical school. If a candidate meets the minimum eligibility criteria, he/she will receive a supplemental application for the combined program.
  • The program committee may invite a candidate for a visit to the campus for an interview.
  • Concurrent with the visit, a candidate will also be invited to apply to the graduate department of his/her choice through the Graduate School.

The application for the M.D./Ph.D. program shou ld be returned to: 

Kareem Washington, Ph.D. 
Director M.D./Ph.D. Program 
Howard University College of Medicine 
520 W Street, NW 
Washington, DC 20059
email: kareem.washington

Admission to Candidacy

A student, with the advice of the director of graduate studies, may file for admission to candidacy.

Residence Requirements

Students in the Ph.D. program are required to spend at least three semesters in full-time residence, two of which must be consecutive.