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Doctor of Philosophy and Biomedical Sciences

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Request information

"*" indicates required fields

By submitting this form, you are giving your express written consent for Ponce Health Sciences University to contact you regarding our educational programs and services using email, telephone, or text - including our use of automated technology for calls or texts to the number you provided here. This consent is not required to purchase goods or services. You may opt-out at any time.


The Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) in Biomedical Sciences is an integrated, interdepartmental program in the basic biomedical sciences that seeks to provide trainees with a broad-based two-year core curriculum followed by advanced courses and dissertation research leading to the Ph.D. degree. The Program reflects the interest of the Institution to promote the formation of professionals in the biomedical sciences. Our institution is committed to the development of independent, competitive and well-trained professionals with strong interpersonal communication skills who can succeed in the biomedical research field.

The degree is awarded after successful completion of an interdisciplinary core curriculum in the biomedical sciences, which includes Histology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Physiology, Pharmacology, and electives in special topics. Students must also complete an original research project that significantly contributes to the scientific knowledge in a particular field.


The mission of the Biomedical Sciences PhD Program at the Ponce Health Sciences University is to train tomorrow’s scientists.  We do so by preparing them for independent professional careers while advocating for graduate education, research excellence and integrity on a continuous basis.


Our vision is to offer high quality education and research training in an environment that fosters communication skills, network building, interdisciplinary collaborations and facilitates the development of new ideas. Our Program is in a unique position within a diversity setting to reach new standards of excellence in biomedical research and graduate education.

The major goal of the PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences is to develop scientists in the biomedical field who have the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue competitive research and academic careers. By the time of graduation, students are expected to:



  1. Students must demonstrate knowledge about established and evolving biomedical sciences as well as the application of this knowledge to research.
  2. Demonstrate general knowledge in the basic sciences including Biochemistry, Histology, Microbiology, Pharmacology and Physiology.
  3. Demonstrate advanced knowledge in thesis research area.



  1. Students must be able to examine and evaluate scientific questions and literature as a constant independent and life-long learning process.
  2. Develop analytical capacities in order to be able to independently formulate hypotheses, design experimental approaches, analyze data effectively, provide critical evaluations and reach reasonable conclusions.
  3. Develop basic and advanced technical research skills through intensive participation in hands-on courses, research activities and workshops.
  4. Demonstrate proficiency in carrying out competitive and independent research.



  1. Students must demonstrate a commitment to carrying out professional responsibilities and to abide by ethical principles.
  2. Demonstrate a commitment to carry out professional responsibilities based on ethical principles.
  3. Demonstrate honesty, integrity and respectful behavior in all research, courses and career training activities.


Communication Skills:

  1.  Students must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in the effective interchange of information
  2. Demonstrate scientific writing and grantsmanship skills, so that they are able to develop and publish manuscripts from their research findings, design basic research protocols and submit proposals for funding.
  3. Exhibit communication and networking skills through the presentation of experimental results at scientific forums in the area of expertise.
  4. Develop professional values and collaborative skills.


Teaching and Mentoring:

  1. Students must share their knowledge and provide support and advice to peers in ethical, scientific and professional principles.
  2. Demonstrate proficiency in the instruction, advising and evaluation of students.
  3. Develop written and oral presentation skills.

The applicant must comply with the following:

  1. Have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum of 35 credits in sciences including the following courses:
Course Title Credits
General Biology (2 semesters) 8
General Chemistry (2 semesters) 8
Organic Chemistry (2 semesters) 8
Calculus (1 semesters) 3
Physics (2 semesters) 8
  1. Have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 (on a four-point scale)
  2. Interview with members of the Admissions Committee
  3. Complete a writing sample
  4. Submit the following documents:
  1. Official undergraduate transcript of all universities attended.
  2. Three letters of recommendation written by professors or by individuals familiar with the applicant’s professional work and skills.
  3. CV/resume
  4. Certificate of No Penal Record
  5. Application Processing Fee of US $90.00 (non-refundable)

Upon acceptance, all students are required to submit the following:

  1. Written confirmation of acceptance and a non-refundable deposit of $100.00 to secure the seat in the entering class.
  2. Physical Exam (using a form provided by the Admissions Office)
  3. Evidence of up to date immunization record (must include Varicella, Td Adult, MMR and three doses of Hepatitis B).

Other documents will be notified as pertinent.

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) in Biomedical Sciences is awarded after achieving a high degree of scholarship and the successful completion of an original research project which is a significant contribution to the scientific knowledge in Biomedical Sciences.  The general requirements for the degree are as follows:

  1. Students must complete all courses within the established time frame. The Program requires a minimum of 70 credits and a minimum general grade index of 3.00.
  2. Approval of the Qualifying Exam.
  3. Approval of a research proposal by the student’s thesis committee.
  4. Engage in a research program under supervision of a research mentor and preparing a dissertation.
  5. Defend a research dissertation.
  6. Publish as co-author any part of the thesis in any peer-reviewed journal.

Requirements for the PhD degree must be completed no later than 8 calendar or academic years for a full-time student in the doctoral program.

All courses and grades obtained will appear on the student’s academic record, including transferred courses from other institutions.

The Program has established evaluation criteria for the successful completion of courses.  These criteria are made available to the students at the beginning of the course.  The grading system for graduate students is as follows:


A100% – 89%
B88% – 77%
C76% – 67%
FFailed (below 67%)
IPIn Progress
NPNot Pass
AWAdministrative Withdrawal

A Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy has been established to ensure that Biomedical Sciences students complete the academic program within the acceptable time frame and the minimally accepted quality of performance. This policy also ensures that the Student Financial Aid requirements set forth by federal regulations have been met. The SAP applies to all PhD Biomedical students enrolled in Ponce Health Sciences University. Student’s academic progress is evaluated at the end of each semester.

General Requirements

  • Time Frame for Completion of the Academic Program

A student will be allowed a maximum time frame of three (3) years of enrollment beyond the standard of five (5) years required for the completion of the Program. Summer enrollment is considered part of the academic year for the purpose of this measure.

The total credits for completion of a degree include those graduate courses accredited on admission to the Program.

Doctoral Program in Biomedical Sciences5 years8 years
  • Definition of Full Time – students with an academic load of six credits or more per semester will be considered Full Time doctoral students. A student solely enrolled in Thesis Research or Doctoral Dissertation will also be considered a Full-Time student.
  • Definition of Half Time – students with an academic load of three to five credits per semester will be considered Half Time doctoral students.
  • Definition of Part Time or Less Than Half Time – students with an academic load less than three credits per semester will be considered Part Time doctoral students or Less Than Half Time student.

Completion of Program Requirements

Course requirement

  • Students must complete all courses within the established time frame. The PhD in Biomedical Sciences requires a minimum of 70 credits.
  • Performance requirement
    • A student must complete the first academic year (including summer term) with a minimum grade point average of 3.00.
    • Any student failing to meet this standard performance will be referred to the Students Promotion Committee to be placed on academic probation.
    • Students on academic probation who do not increase the GPA to 3.0 by the end of the following semester will be referred to the Students Promotion Committee for consideration of dismissal from the Program.
    • Prior to the qualifying examination, the student must have a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Qualifying examination requirement
  • A Qualigying Examination must be taken upon completion of the second academic year or completion of the core course work. The maximum time allow to take this examination is three years.  A minimum passing score of 77 percent in the exam is a requirement for candidacy to the Doctoral Degree.
  • Doctoral Dissertation Requirement
  • A Doctoral Dissertation according to the established guidelines with oral defense is required for graduation.
  • Professional Behavior Requirement
  • Students must conduct themselves in accordance with the norms for professional conduct set forth by Ponce Health Sciences University and the corresponding accreditation agencies.

Grade Requirement

In order to obtain a PhD in Biomedical Sciences, the student must complete all requirements and maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0. Satisfactory Academic Progress is required for financial aid eligibility and will be reviewed on a yearly basis.

  • A grade of “F” in any course will be referred to the Students Promotion Committee (SPC).
  • A student may have one opportunity to retake a failed or withdrawn (“W”) course and obtain a “C” or better grade. Failure to pass a given course on the second opportunity is grounds for dismissal from the Program.
  • A student with more than two “F” grades or “W” on record is grounds for dismissal from the Program.
  • Repeated courses with “C” or lower grades will remain on record, but the new grade will be used to compute the grade point average.
  • Graduate courses not offered at PHSU may be taken at other institutions with permission and approval from the Associate Dean of Biomedical Sciences and the Vice President of Academic Affairs.
  • Grades of “P” (Pass) or “NP” (Not Pass) are applicable to thesis research/dissertation and graduate seminars. When the research/dissertation activity requires more than one semester for its completion, the students receives a notation of “In Progress” (IP) for each semester and until the research/dissertation is completed.
  • A grade of “I” (Incomplete) will only be allowed under special circumstances. The student must remove the incomplete by the following semester or it will be replaced by the grade of “F”.  The “I” grades are part of the academic record as are the final grades.
  • A student with a reversed dismissal is not in satisfactory academic progress and is considered both on academic and financial aid probation.

Academic Probation and Financial Aid Eligibility

A student failing to meet the grade requirements will be placed on academic probation for one semester, but will be eligible for financial aid.  Students that fail to comply with grade requirements after the prescribed probation time will be referred to the School of Medicine Students Promotion Committee (SPC) and may result in dismissal from the Program.

Appeal Process for Academic

Students who are notified by the Associate Dean of Medical Education a decision of the SPC that he/she must repeat failed courses during the next academic year or to be dismissed from Program, have the right to appeal the decision within seven working days after receiving the notification.

The appeal or due process presented below must be followed.

The student will request in writing a reconsideration to SPC and include all relevant documentation to support the petition.  The Committee will evaluate the reasons and evidence submitted to determine if they change their initial decision.  The SPC has 48 hours to submit its decision to the Associate Dean for Medical Education, who will notify the decision to the student.

If the SPC sustains the adverse decision, the student has the right to appeal to the Dean of Medicine.  The appeal must be submitted in writing within seven working days after receiving the notification.  The Dean of Medicine will evaluate the appeal and the student’s academic record.  The Dean can appoint a three-member Ad-Hoc Committee to re-evaluate all evidence.  Rejection of the appeal by the Dean is final.

If an Ad-Hoc Committee is appointed, they will notify the student in writing of the date and the time when the appeal will be evaluated. The Ad-Hoc Committee has forty-eight (48) hours to submit a recommendation to the Dean of Medicine. The Dean of Medicine will consider the Ad-Hoc Committee recommendation and make the final decision within forty-eight (48) hours.

Any decision will be reported to the student in writing. The decision made by the Dean of Medicine is final.

The same process described above will be followed in the case that the adverse decision made by the Committee is for non-academic reasons, such as unacceptable professional behavior. The Department Chairperson, the Associate Dean for Medical Education or the Vice President for Student Affairs will refer the case to the SPC.  If the recommendation of the SPC is to dismiss the student, the appeal process described above may be activated.

In the event that an adverse decision is made due to non-academic reasons and the Dean of Medicine sustains the decision after the appeal process, the student may appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and then to the President.

Financial Aid Eligibility

Financial Aid eligibility is contingent upon satisfactory academic progress.  Please refer to the institutional policy on Satisfactory Academic Progress published by the Office of Financial Aid.


The Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs shall have primary responsibility for overseeing this policy and will provide all students a copy of this document upon admission to Ponce Health Sciences University School of Medicine.

The President, Vice President of Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Student Affairs, as well as the Dean of Medicine, Associate Dean for Medical Education, Registrar and Financial Aid Director will receive all pertinent data to ensure proper enforcement of the policy here set forth.

Revised by the Executive and Policy Committee of the School of Medicine, December 19, 2016.

For more details of PHSU tuition and fees please refer to: Cost of Attendance


Ponce Health Sciences University reserve the right to increase the tuition or other fees as deemed necessary.

Ponce Health Sciences University is pleased that you have selected our institution to continue with your academic and professional goals. The Office of Student Financial provides you with the information and tools to assist you in reaching educational goals. Please take your time to navigate through the various links we have provided and feel free to contact the Financial Aid Office if you need more information:

Financial Aid Application Process Links

Important Links (External):


Important Links for PHSU application forms and manual

PHSU Financial Aid Application – click to download the form


Federal Financial Aid Programs

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loan: students who meet the requirements established by the US Department of Education may receive a Direct Loan, according to the academic program: graduate and professional students are eligible to receive up to $20,500 per academic year. As an institution that previously participated in the HEAL Programs our MD, Doctorate and PhD in Clinical Psychology, as well as certain Master Degree Programs might be eligible for additional amount of loan. The amount is established annually by Federal Regulations. The Financial Aid Office provides orientation about the application process for student loans, the student’s qualifying requirements and the specifics regarding interest rate, orientation fess, repayment process, etc. The student must submit an agreement form known as a Master Promissory Note, and complete electronic entrance counseling, both on-line:
  • Direct Loan-Plus Graduate Loan: This is a federal fixed-interest loan for graduate and professional students, beyond the DL Unsubsidized award, to cover any additional cost of attendance. The interest rate and origination fee, which is annually fixed by the Federal Government, begins to accrue from the date of the first disbursement. The loan qualifying process requires a credit check verification, on-line entrance counseling and an on-line submission of a Master Promissory Note:
  • Private Loans (Alternative Loans). These are credit-based loans that may be used to supplement other types of financial aid programs. The loan amounts vary according to amount requested and approved for the student. The interest rate is variable, accrued while in school and usually based on the current “Prime Rate” plus a lender’s predetermined interest rate. Repayment may be up to 20 years. These Private Alternative Loans provide funds to complete the remaining need after the student is awarded other financial aid. Due to the high interest rate that these loans represent, the student should consider these loans as a last resource to their financial need. PHSU does not recommend any specific lender, the evaluation and selection is a student’s individualized decision.
  • Historical Private Lender List
    PHSU does not deny or otherwise impede the student’s choice of an alternative lender or cause unnecessary delay in loan certification of these loans. The following is a list of the three private loans that have been most commonly selected by our students during last two previous academic years, however, we reiterate that the student may select any other lender they esteem will meet their financial need.


Other Financial Aid Options:

Military Scholarship Programs: Students interested in a military career may consider apply for one of the scholarships programs for healthcare professions offered by the US Army, the US Air Force, Navy or the National Guard. The students must contact the desired program:

National Health Services Corps Scholarship Program: available for students in the primary health care specialties and committed to serving part or their entire career in federally designated health professional shortage area. Learn more about this program at:


Financial Aid Application Process

Direct Loan Application Process
Students interested in applying for a Direct Loan must comply with the federal requirements and following requirements:

  1. Have financial need.
  2. Be an US Citizen or an Eligible Non-Citizen.
  3. Have a valid social security number.
  4. Enroll in an eligible program as a regular student working toward a degree.
  5. Meet satisfactory academic progress standards.
  6. Register (or have registered) with the Selective Service if you are a male between the ages of 18 and 25.
  7. Certify that are not in default on a federal student loan and that do not owe money on a Federal student grant.
  8. Student cannot exceed the aggregate loan limit established by the Department of Education.
  9. Comply with the Entrance Interview/Counseling.
  10. Provide all the documents and information required by the Financial Aid.

Students must fill the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the corresponding academic year, in order to be evaluated to determine eligibility for federal and state funds. It must be submitted on line at no later than last working day of April. The PHSU school code is G24824. Students need a pin number, which can be obtained at

Once the student submits the FAFSA, the Department of Education will send an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) to the school, which will be used for evaluation and analysis.

Students with a FAFSA application selected for verification by the Department of Education will be required to submit the following documents:

  • Complete a Verification Worksheet (provided by the Financial Aid Office)
  • Copy of the Tax Return (IRS or PR tax return form) or
  • W-2 form(s) (if apply)
  • Evidence of wages, salaries, tips, etc., reported on the FAFSA
  • Others

If the student (student’s parent or spouse) is not required to file income tax return, he/she will be required to complete and sign a Certification of Income, provided by the Financial Aid Office, among other documentation. Note: No loan will be process until the verification process is completed.

As part of the evaluation, the Financial Aid Office will take in consideration the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the amount that the student should contribute towards his/her cost of education, and it is determined by the Federal Government. The need analysis consists of the following basic calculation: Cost of Attendance minus EFC equals Financial Need. As part of the analysis, it will be considered any other expected financial aid (external funds such as Vocational Rehabilitation, Veteran Administration, military scholarships, and any other grant or scholarship). Note: A student cannot receive financial assistance in excess of the determined Financial Need.

The next step is the awarding of financial aid amounts by PHSU and preparing the award notification for the student. Once the awarding process is completed, a Notification of Award is sent to each student.

Return Policy and Requirement for Withdrawal and Return of Federal Financial Aid (see PHSU catalog refund policy section)

Suspension of Eligibility for Drug-Related Offenses
If convicted of any offense involving the possession of a controlled substance, a student’s eligibility for Title IV Financial Student Aid Program will be denied for:

  • One year after the first conviction
  • Two years after the second conviction
  • Indefinitely after the third conviction

Eligibility may be restored if the student partakes of an approved Federal Government Rehabilitation Program.

Please refer to the Student Financial Aid Manual for specific information regarding all the dynamics of financial aid as it applies to new and continuing students.


Financial Aid Contact Information:

Financial Aid Personnel:
Mrs. Myrian Gaud Maitín, MBA
Financial Aid Manager

Mrs. Nicole Vázquez Colon, MSS
Financial Aid Officer

Ms. Mariannette Cruz Rentas, BS
Administrative Assistant

Office Hours
Monday to Thursday: 8:00-11:30 am – 1:00-4:30 pm
Friday: Administrative Work (By appointment only)

Financial Aid Office Contact Information
Phone Number: (787) 840-2575 ext. 2134, 2135 or 2136
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 7004, Ponce. Puerto Rico 00731
Physical Address: 388 Zona Ind. Reparada 2 Ponce PR 00716-2347

How To Apply

Application Process

Application for Admission to the PhD in Biomedical Sciences can be obtained personally at our Admissions Office.
Application deadline is April 15th.

Send to Admissions Office the following documents:

  • Three letters of recommendation (two from professors and one written by an individual familiar with the applicant’s skills and abilities) or a composite letter from a premedical committee.
  • Official transcripts from all universities attended.
  • US $90 non-refundable application processing fee.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Essay

Upon acceptance, all students are required to submit the following:

  • Written confirmation of acceptance and a deposit of $100.00 to secure your seat in the entering class.
  • Physical Exam results.
  • Other documents will be notified as pertinent.



The Graduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (G-RISE) is a developmental program granted by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (T32GM144896) that seeks to increase the capacity of students underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences to complete Ph.D. degrees in these fields, advance to competitive postdoctoral positions, and enter productive research careers. By strengthening students’ academic preparation, research training and professional skills, the G-RISE Program helps to reduce the existing gap of Ph.D. degrees conferred between underrepresented and non-underrepresented students.

G-RISE trainees at Ponce Health Sciences University benefit from:

  • Annual salary
  • Tuition waiver
  • Annual lab supplies and travel allowance
  • Funds for external training opportunities
  • Continuous team-based and individual mentoring
  • Hands-on professional development and research training
  • Advanced instruction in communication and writing
  • Team building and networking opportunities



Caroline Appleyard, Ph.D.
Program Director
(787) 840-2575 ext.2165

James Porter, Ph.D.
Associate Program Director
(787) 840-2575 ext. 2251

Jean Marie Schmidt, M.Ed.
Program Coordinator
(787) 284-2038

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