PhD in Clinical Translational Science

Doctorate in Clinical and Translational Science

The PhD in CTS is an interdisciplinary program designed for professional scholars committed to leading interdisciplinary CTS research teams, sustaining independent research programs that promote innovation and new discovery, or both. In addition to extensive research training, PhD candidates are able to receive expanded training in the skills required for meeting career objectives: grant writing, grant management, team leadership, and personnel and laboratory management. Admission is limited to applicants with terminal professional degrees (ie, MD, DMD, DDS, PharmD, DVM, DO, DNP, DSc, or PhD) with appropriate domestic licensure for professional practice and to professional students enrolled in dual-degree programs. Like the MS program, the PhD program in CTS emphasizes mentored research training with a primary mentor and a PhD advisory committee. The mentor and the advisory committee are charged with supporting the scholar’s overall career development; they play a prominent role in coordinating the scholar’s curriculum, research training, and career development. The primary mentor or a co-mentor on each advisory committee must have a primary appointment as a Behavioral Science Departmental faculty member who is a full member of the graduate faculty. A list of the Behavioral Science faculy can be found at Other members of the PhD advisory committee are selected on the basis of their ability to support elements of the scholar’s interdisciplinary research interests and career trajectory. The advisory committee conducts the qualifying and final examinations. Successful completion of the degree is contingent upon the scholar’s completion and presentation (written and oral) of well-reasoned research that yields clinically significant, publishable CTS knowledge.  Click here for information on the application process. Click here to download the Doctoral Student Handbook.


Admission to the PhD program is limited to applicants with terminal professional degrees (i.e., MD, DMD, DDS, PharmD, DVM, DO, DNP, DSc or PhD) who hold appropriate domestic licensure to practice professionally and to students in professional health colleges that have dual degree programs. Applications must be formally admitted by the Admissions Committee of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science and the Department of Behavioral Science. 

Course Credit Requirements:  

All entering PhD candidates will complete a common 13-credit curriculum to establish core competencies in CTS. They will then complete a tailored curriculum of interdisciplinary courses designed to meet their research interests and career trajectories. 

The curriculum is designed to establish knowledge-based and skill-based competencies in communication; professionalism; critical thinking; synthesis of knowledge; planning; management; assessment; and leadership in five areas: 1) CTS methods and technologies; 2) scientific knowledge; 3) measurement and statistics; 4) research integrity (research ethics and responsible conduct of research); and 5) collaboration and team building. These competencies are required of all CTS PhD graduate students. 

Core Curriculum (13 credit hours):

Course Number



Course Credits

Semesters Offered

BSC 731

Methods and Technologies in Clinical and Translational Science

Overview course designed to introduce students to major CTS methods and technologies, enable students to interpret and evaluate research findings, enhance appreciation for multidisciplinary approaches to CTS, and enhance interdisciplinary vocabulary. BSC 731 Methods and Technologies in Clinical and Translational Science is a prerequisite to BSC 732 and must be completed prior to taking BSC 732.


Fall and Spring

BSC 732

Interdisciplinary Protocol Development

Interactive course designed to orient students to leadership and teamwork processes of clinical and translational research and to train students to function effectively in teams. BSC 731 Methods and Technologies in Clinical and Translational Science is a prerequisite to BSC 732 and must be completed prior to taking BSC 732.


Fall and Spring

BSC 733

Seminar in Clinical and Translational Science

This seminar course is designed to orient students to clinical and translational research community and activities at the University of Kentucky and to incorporate a multidisciplinary cooperative approach to clinical and translational research. Students are expected to apply their knowledge of effective scientific communication, responsible conduct of research, and methods and technologies of clinical and translational science to ongoing discussions. The course will consist of four evening seminars focusing on different topics of clinical and translational research, as well as, 3 additional seminars of the student’s choice. Prereq: Graduate standing.


Fall and Spring

BSC 534

Ethics and Responsibility in Clinical Research

The goal of this course is to provide an overview of ethical considerations when conducting and reporting clinical research, as well as to provide experience in the practice and application of ethics to clinical science. Prereq: This course is designed for scholars pursuing research training in clinical and translational science to integrate and apply knowledge obtained in previous training. Permission is required from the Course Director for entry into the class.


Fall and Spring

BSC 772

Fundamentals of Biostatistics for Clinical and Translational Research

This course is for students that are either actively engaged in clinical and/or translational research or intend to be involved in research in the near future. This courses consists of lectures, demonstrations and discussion sessions on biostatistics for the health sciences. The course activities are intended to promote the application of biostatistics to research concepts in the students’ areas of interest and to foster practical knowledge that supports students’ own research interests. 


Fall and Spring

BSC 790

Research Practicum

Research practicum based on a detailed research training plan developed with the mentor that contributes to original research and peer-reviewed publication.


Fall and Spring

Tailored Curriculum:  

All PhD candidates will have completed rigorous basic science training within their professional programs, and will have already acquired a solid academic foundation. Career development for these PhD candidates will be optimized by taking graduate-level courses selected to expand and support their research interests and career trajectories. 

The candidate’s major professor and Advisory Committee will work with the candidate to identify appropriately tailored courses and other experiences needed for the candidate to acquire the breadth and depth of knowledge and expertise needed to produce well-reasoned, original, interdisciplinary research contributions. 

The tailored curriculum of each scholar will be designed to provide training needed for the PhD candidate to lead interdisciplinary CTS research teams and/or sustain independent research programs that promote innovation and new discovery. Also, the curriculum will provide advanced interdisciplinary training to support the development of research skills and expertise tailored to the interests and career trajectory of the individual scholar. 

After the tailored portion of the curriculum is approved by the candidate’s Advisory Committee, it also must be approved by the Department of Behavioral Science Director of Graduate Studies.

Mentored Research: 

Mentored research training is the primary emphasis of the interdisciplinary PhD in CTS program. A major professor (i.e., primary mentor), with the support of a PhD advisory committee, will oversee research training and career development. A Behavioral Science faculty member must be selected as chair or co-chair of the advisory committee. Members of the PhD advisory committee will be selected based on their abilities to support elements of the interdisciplinary research interests and career trajectories of the candidate. The membership of the PhD advisory committee must meet established graduate school requirements. The advisory committee will oversee and evaluate the graduate scholar’s progress in the doctoral program. The committee will complete annual evaluations of the candidate’s progress towards the degree that will include considerations of coursework, research, and career development. 

Graduate School Requirements 

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree: 

The Ph.D. degree is intended to represent the demonstration of independent and comprehensive scholarship in a specific field. Such scholarship must be manifested by both the scholar’s mastery of subject matter and capacity to do research. Every applicant to the Ph.D. degree program must select a major area of study. The major area is one in which the student’s efforts are concentrated. The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is conferred upon a candidate who, after completing graduate work devoted to study of a special field of knowledge, 1) passes comprehensive examinations in the chosen field and the dissertation subject, 2) presents a satisfactory dissertation, and 3) shows evidence of scholarly attainment. 

The Major Professor And The Advisory Committee: 

The Director of Graduate Studies, or designee, serves as advisor to beginning graduate students until the advisory committee is appointed, normally not later than upon completion of the first semester of graduate work. The advisory committee must be appointed at no later than one year prior to the qualifying examinations. The major professor and advisory committee are appointed by the Graduate Dean after consultation with the appropriate Director of Graduate Studies. The dissertation director, when selected, serves as the major professor. The advisory committee also provides advice to the student and specifically sets requirements (within applicable program, Graduate School and University regulations) which the student must meet in pursuit of the doctorate. In addition to advising and program planning, the advisory committee is also involved in the administration of the qualifying examination, the supervision of the preparation of the dissertation, and the administration of the final examination. 

The advisory committee has a core of four members. This core consists of the major professor as chair, two other members from the major area, and at least one representative from any minor area(s). At least one representative must be from outside the academic program (department). All members of the core must be members of the Graduate Faculty of the University of Kentucky and three (including the major professor) must possess full Graduate Faculty status. Additional faculty members may serve as members of the advisory committee. The core of the advisory committee must be kept at its full complement throughout the graduate career of the individual student. Thus, in the event of a vacancy on the committee (occasioned by resignation, faculty leave, or inability to serve), an appropriate replacement must be made prior to any subsequent committee decisions. The request to form (or modify) an advisory committee is accomplished via

All decisions of the advisory committee are by majority vote of its Graduate Faculty members. Advisory committee decisions must be reported promptly to the appropriate Director of Graduate Studies who will be responsible for transmitting them to the Dean of the Graduate School.

Residency Requirements: 

The purpose of a residency requirement is to encourage doctoral students to experience contact with the academic community: colleagues, libraries, laboratories, on-going programs of research and inquiry, and the intellectual environment that characterizes a university. Such experience is generally as important as formal class work in the process of intellectual development. While the residency requirement is, by necessity, given in terms of full or part-time enrollment, the intent of the requirement is to ensure that the student becomes fully involved in an essential part of scholarly life. 

Students must complete the equivalent of one years of residency (18 credit hours) prior to the qualifying examination and one year of post-qualifying residency. Exceptions to this normal pattern may be made with the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School upon the written recommendations of the student’s advisory committee and the Director of Graduate Studies, which clearly demonstrate that the principle of residence is preserved. The ultimate goal of these requirements is to lead students to scholarly accomplishment, not solely to amass semester hours or time spent. 

Pre-Qualifying Residency: 

Effective fall 2008, doctoral students no longer have to follow Models I, II or III to meet the prequalifying residency requirement. .Students must simply complete the requirement of 18 credit hours of graduate coursework within five years of entry into the doctoral program. Extensions up to an additional three years may be requested to fulfill the pre-qualifying requirement (see “Pre-Qualifying Time Limit”). The graduate faculty of a doctoral program (or group of programs) also has the option to petition Graduate Council to reduce or increase the five year time limit. If approved, this modification will then apply to all doctoral students in that program. 

Post-Qualifying Residency: 

Students are required to enroll in a 2 credit hour course after successfully completing the qualifying examination, BSC-767; Dissertation Residency Credit. They will be charged at the in-state tuition rate plus mandatory fees. Students must remain continuously enrolled in this course every fall and spring semester until they have completed and defended the dissertation. This will constitute full-time enrollment. Students are required to complete two semesters of 767 before they can graduate.  

Continuous enrollment in 767 will also apply to students whose programs of study or certification standards require an extended practicum or field experience. 

The Qualifying Examination: 

A qualifying examination consisting of both written and oral components is required of all doctoral students. Its purpose is to verify that students have sufficient understanding of and competence in their fields to become candidates for the degree. The advisory committee prepares, administers, and judges an individual qualifying examination. A majority vote of the core of the advisory committee is required for successful completion of the qualifying examination. The examination is given after fulfillment of pre-qualifying residency. 

The request to schedule the qualifying examination must be submitted a minimum of two weeks in advance via: The results of the examination must be reported by the Director of Graduate Studies to the Graduate School within 10 days of its conclusion. If the result is failure, the advisory committee determines the conditions to be met before another examination may be given. The minimum time between examinations is four months. A second examination must be taken within one year after the first examination. A third examination is not permitted. 

The semester during which the student takes the qualifying examination may be counted for 769 residence credit only if the date of successful passage is within six weeks (three weeks for the second summer session) of the first day of classes. Classes must be in session, for the student to sit for the exam. 

Pre-Qualifying Time Limit: 

Students are required to take the qualifying examination within five years of entry into the program. Extensions up to an additional three years may be requested. Extensions up to twelve months may be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School upon receipt of a request from the Director of Graduate Studies. Requests for extensions longer than twelve months must be considered by Graduate Council and will require the positive recommendation of the Director of Graduate Studies, the chair of the student’s doctoral advisory committee, and a majority vote of Graduate Faculty in the program. If the qualifying examination has not been passed at the end of five years, or at the end of all approved time extensions the student will be dismissed from the program. 

Final Examination: 

The Final Examination includes a defense of the dissertation and may be as comprehensive as the advisory committee chooses to make it. It is conducted by an expanded advisory committee chaired by the Director of Graduate Studies or someone designated by the Director. The Dean of the Graduate School and the President of the University are ex officio members of all final examination committees. The examination is a public event and its scheduling is published and announced beforehand. Any member of the University community may attend. 

At least 8 weeks prior to the final examination, the Graduate School should be notified of the intent to examine via: At this time the Graduate Dean appoints an Outside Examiner as a core member of the advisory committee. The specific time and date of the examination must be designated by the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the actual examination using the above link. All members of the committee except the outside examiner must have an opportunity to suggest revisions prior to scheduling the Final Examination. Thus, most revisions should have been completed at an earlier time. The final examination must take place no later than eight days prior to the last day of classes of the semester in which the student expects to graduate. Final examinations are public events and must take place while the University is officially in session. They may not be scheduled during the periods between semesters or between the end of the second summer session and the beginning of the fall semester. 

In all decisions, the majority opinion of the Graduate Faculty members of the advisory committee prevails. If the advisory committee is evenly divided, the candidate fails. In the event of failure, the advisory committee recommends to the Dean of the Graduate School conditions under which the candidate may be re-examined, if re-examination is deemed appropriate. When conditions set by the Dean of the Graduate School have been met, the candidate may be re-examined. The minimum time between examinations is four months. A second examination must be taken within one year after the first examination Should any vacancies on the Committee occur between the two examinations, the Dean of the Graduate School shall appoint replacements. A third examination is not permitted 

The Dissertation: 

Each student must present a dissertation which represents the culmination of a major research project. The dissertation must be a well-reasoned, original contribution to knowledge in the field of study and should provide evidence of high scholarly achievement. Dissertations must be prepared in conformity with the instructions published by the Graduate School. Specific formatting instructions can be found at The dissertation in its final form must be received in the Graduate School within 60 days of the final examination. If this deadline is not met, the candidate may be required to undergo a second examination. 

Time Limit for Doctoral Degrees: 

All degree requirements for the doctorate must be completed within five years following the semester or summer session in which the candidate successfully completes the qualifying examination, but extensions up to an additional 5 years may be requested for a total of 10 years. Extensions up to 1 year may be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. Requests for extensions longer than 1 year must be considered by Graduate Council. All requests should be initiated by the Director of Graduate Studies. If approved, extensions longer than one year will require a retake of the qualifying examination. Failure to pass the re-examination will result in the termination of degree candidacy; a second re-examination is not permitted. Failure to complete all degree requirements within 10 years of initially taking the qualifying examination will also result in the termination of degree candidacy. All pre- and post-qualifying residency requirements must again be met if the student subsequently seeks readmission to the doctoral program. 

Policy for Termination: 

The Department of Behavioral Science is bound by all university regulations regarding termination from the degree programs as well as those for the Department stated in this manual. Students and faculty are referred to the Graduate School Bulletin for information regarding academic policies and the handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities for additional policies, including University policy on cheating and plagiarism. The Graduate School Bulletin is available on-line at Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook can be accessed on-line at

A B (3.00) average in all coursework must be maintained and a minimum grade of B must be earned in Department required courses.