I have a lot of independence, but also help when I need it. I don't know the answers yet, but I've got a promising way to start looking for them."
Rockefeller has a graduate program unlike any in the world. Since its beginning more than 50 years ago, five principles have guided the program:
- Recruit the best students, regardless of citizenship. International diversity is both intellectually and culturally stimulating. Our global approach is possible because we have significant private support for our students. Our current student population consists of approximately 200 students from 32 countries.
- Provide a flexible academic program. Students are all different and have diverse interests and needs. We support individual development by giving our students the freedom to design their own curricula. They fulfill credit requirements with courses of interest and have the option to conduct several rotations or immediately affiliate with a lab.
- Provide generous professional and personal support. Relieving worries about practical matters allows our students more time to be creative with their scientific pursuits. They receive a yearly stipend, free health and dental insurance, highly subsidized housing on or near campus and an annual research allowance for travel and lab support.
- Strongly encourage interactions. Students are often the catalyst for collaborations between labs, and some of the most revolutionary ideas span disciplines. To foster interactions, we have an annual student retreat organized and run by students, numerous scientific lecture series where students interact with speakers from around the world and a series with speakers from the arts and humanities to provide alternative perspectives.
- Ensure careful mentoring throughout the graduate career. The freedom of our graduate program requires supportive advice and mentoring. In the first year, counsel is provided by the Dean's Office, and in later years, by the research adviser and a faculty committee.
The program has been an extraordinary success. Of more than 1,000 graduates, two have won the Nobel Prize, 26 are members of the United States National Academy of Sciences and our alumni occupy influential positions in academia, industry and many other fields.
Graduate school is an important step in becoming a professional scientist. Although it has a well-defined end point — the Ph.D. degree — it really is just a beginning. All of the things that go into becoming a scientist — learning new ideas, perfecting new experimental techniques, refining analytical abilities — are lifelong endeavors.
Our goal at Rockefeller is to equip you with both the skills and the self-confidence to begin your journey.
Sidney Strickland, Dean