One UTSA Circle San Antonio, TX 78249

developmental and regenerative sciences
DRS PhD Program

Frequently Asked Questions

The UTSA Developmental & Regenerative Sciences PhD program includes over 30 different labs to choose from in academic, clinical, military, and biotechnology settings. PIs’ individual labs are well equipped plus there are multiple research cores with state-of-the-art instrumentation and multiple centers promoting strengths in Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine, Developmental Biology, Brain Health, Fertility and Infertility, Genomics & Epigenomics, Proteomics, Advanced Microscopy, Cell Sorting, Drug Discovery, and Tissue Engineering, among others. The curriculum is structured to ensure thorough and efficient student progress as well as training in current, cutting-edge methodologies.

New students are admitted into the DRS PhD program once per year, at the beginning of the fall semester.

Applications for admission into the DRS PhD program are submitted online to Graduate Admissions at

The final deadline for online submission of your application is December 1st for consideration for admission in the following fall.
For example: the final deadline for submission of applications for admission into the DRS PhD program in the fall of 2023 will be December 1, 2022.

The deadline for online submission of applications for early consideration is November 1st for admission in the following fall.

The complete application must include and/or be accompanied by:

  • All information requested on the application form.
  • A personal statement indicating why you wish to pursue a PhD in Developmental & Regenerative Sciences and what you hope to do with the degree once you receive it.
  • A resume summarizing past education and work experiences, particularly any previous experience conducting research in an individual laboratory.
  • Official transcripts from previously attended institutions showing your GPA in each case.
  • Three letters of recommendation. Preferably sent by individuals who know you well and have observed you working in a research setting.

Note: The online application must be submitted by the December 1st deadline; however, supporting documents will be accepted for up to two weeks after the deadline.

No, you do not need to identify or communicate with any of our program faculty prior to submitting your application. Selection of a PI lab for the dissertation research project is made at the end of the first year in the program following completion of three 10-week lab rotations.

However, if you have previously worked with one or more of our program faculty, or if there are faculty associated with our program with whom you think you might particularly like to work, you should note that in your personal statement and/or your resumé.

Yes. DRS PhD students receive an annual stipend ($31,000 currently, $35,000 starting Fall 2024) paid in monthly allotments, plus their tuition is paid and their cost for health insurance in reimbursed.

Yes. Tuition and fees are paid by the program and do not need to be paid by the student.

Yes. DRS PhD students are reimbursed (in addition to their stipend) for the cost of health insurance.

All DRS PhD students must complete a core course in teaching techniques which may include an exemplary teaching experience (e.g. one lecture).

  • There is no other mandatory teaching or TAing requirement of DRS PhD students. However, students wishing to gain additional teaching experience and/or those who wish or need to offset departmental support for tuition or a stipend may be required to TA.

Yes. All DRS PhD students must complete a core course in scientific writing during the fall semester of their 2nd year in the program. During this course, the student will prepare the dissertation project proposal which will form the basis for the oral qualifying exam that will be taken in the following (spring) semester of the 2nd year.

Yes. DRS PhD students receive instruction and experience in oral presentation skills in a variety of settings including a 1st-year student presentation event, participation in 10 colloquia requiring oral presentations, presentations during the semi-annual symposium, presentations during each meeting of the dissertation committee twice per year, a final 1-hour seminar in either the DRS seminar series, and defense of the dissertation.

DRS PhD students progress through three 10-week lab rotations during their first year in the program and select a PI following those rotations. The selected PI must have resources to support the student’s stipend, tuition, health insurance, and dissertation research project. The Graduate Advisor of Record for the DRS PhD program and the Chair of the Department of Neuroscience, Developmental and Regenerative Biology will advise 1st-year DRS PhD students to assist them in selecting a dissertation PI.

No. Student participation in the DRS PhD program is considered a full-time activity. Students are expected to devote 100% effort to the program. Thus, students cannot take on or continue working elsewhere while enrolled in the DRS PhD program. This is to ensure efficient student progress through the program.

No. A DRS PhD student must choose to receive the standard stipend OR to receive financial support from an external source during the student’s tenure in the program, but a student may not receive the stipend if s/he is receiving external financial support.

No. The DRS PhD program is designed to be a full-time program and has been shown to require full-time effort and participation by the student. There is no part-time option associated with this program.

The detailed DRS PhD program curriculum can be found under the Program tab of this website. In brief, the requirements include:

    • Completion of required course work:
      • 19 hours of core course work
      • 9 hours of elective course work
      • 10 hours of colloquia
      • 5 hours of Doctoral Research
      • 36+ hours of Doctoral Dissertation
    • Passing the written and oral components of the qualifying exam
    • Proposing, conducting, and completing a doctoral dissertation research project
    • Presenting a full-length seminar in the DRS Seminar Program
    • Preparing and defending a doctoral dissertation

Yes! The individual PIs’ labs are very well equipped, plus there are 10 Research Cores equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation in areas like Flow Sorting, Microscopy, Genomics, Epigenomics, Proteomics, Stem Cells, Drug Discovery, and Behavior.

There are also multiple centers or institutes specializing in areas of Regenerative Medicine, Brain Health, Neuroscience, and Drug Discovery.

Yes! DRS PhD students are expected to conduct original, publication-quality dissertation research projects which typically yield at least 2-3 first author publications in prestigious journals and sometimes as many as 5-8 publications.

Yes! DRS PhD students are strongly encouraged to attend and present their dissertation research at at least one national or international scientific conference each year. Multiple sources of support for student travel and meeting expenses are available from the student’s PI, the NDRB department, the College of Sciences, and the University.

The DRS PhD program is designed to be completed in 5 years and this has been the normal time required for a majority of our graduates to complete the program.

Yes, if all requirements of the program have been met (see above) and if the student’s PI and dissertation committee agree that the dissertation research project has been completed and if the student successfully defends the dissertation, the student can complete the program in less than 5 years. Some students have completed the program in 4 years. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to complete the program in less than 4 years. Some students have required up to 6 years to complete the program but that is the maximum time a student can remain in the program.

Graduates of the CMB/DRS PhD program have moved on to a wide variety of prestigious positions. Most commonly, graduates take up a postdoctoral fellowship at another university. CMB/DRS PhD graduates have conducted postdoc fellowships at UC San Francisco, UCLA, PENN and the NIH, among many other institutions. Other graduates have taken up a position associated with military research or in the biotechnology sector. Still other graduates have taken up teaching positions.