Rotations are an important feature of our program.  New students must rotate through at least three laboratories before choosing a permanent laboratory supervisor. In rare occasions where a student does not find a permanent lab after the first three rotations, a fourth rotation is permitted. This allows students to sample different research areas and thus to make a highly educated choices of research topics, laboratories and supervisors. Non-visa (domestic) students are not required to have pre-arranged a permanent supervisor prior to coming to the Department. Students are not allowed to make an official commitment to permanently join a lab until the rotation period is over.

Arranging Rotations

The Department arranges the first rotation for each student before they starts the program. In early summer (late fall for January starts), each student accepted to our program will fill out a web-based survey. Newly accepted students will submit a ranked list of five choices of faculty member laboratories who have indicated they will be accepting students in which they would like to rotate. The first rotation is assigned based on the stated preferences of the student, but choices may be limited by the availability of space within faculty members’ laboratories. Students are informed of their rotation assignment by the end of July (early December for January starters).

Students are required to rotate in at least two different geographic nodes of the Department. Students should keep this in mind when listing preferred labs. The major departmental nodes are: Medical Sciences Building (MSB), Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI), Donnelly Centre (DC), Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OCI), Peter Gilgan Centre for Research & Learning (PGCRL) and MaRS West Tower (MaRS).

Depending on the size of the incoming class, the Department may assign the second rotation as well. Confirmation of this will be communicated to first year student in early September/January. The third rotation choices are entirely up to the student, and should be made only after starting in the program in September/January. Students can make more informed rotation choices once they gain firsthand experience in the department. The third rotation is arranged through direct communication between students and potential supervisors and must be finalized at least one week before the commencement of said rotation. As soon as additional rotation arrangements have been made, the Graduate Program Administrator must be notified. A departmental retreat held late in September, as well as a faculty seminar series for first year students in September/October, provide excellent chances to view all the available research opportunities within the Department. Students may choose to do a fourth rotation if they are still undecided after completion of the third.

Students and supervisors will not make any final decisions about laboratory choices until near the end of the mandatory rotation period. New students are encouraged to seek the advice of senior students in choosing their rotations. The Departmental Executive, Examining Committee members and faculty members are available to counsel students on matters concerning rotation selection.

Opting Out of Rotations for Students Who Have Completed an M.Sc.

Ph.D. applicants who will receive their M.Sc. prior to starting their graduate program in Molecular Genetics have the option of forgoing rotations and directly joining a lab.  To be eligible for opting out of rotations, the applicant must arrange a prospective supervisor as part of their application package.  An email from both the applicant and the prospective supervisor stating that both are willing to forgo the rotation process should be emailed to the Department before the application deadline.

Failure to Find a Permanent Lab

If a student is unable to find a permanent thesis supervisor after four rotations, their enrollment in the program may be terminated. Admission to our program does not guarantee that a student will be accepted into a laboratory for their thesis work. It is extremely rare, however, for an accepted student to not find a suitable laboratory to join.

International/Visa Student Rotations

Although international (visa) students are required to find a supervisor prior to admission, these arrangements are not final. Visa students are required to do the same number of rotations as non-visa students, and they are free to join a laboratory other than that of their sponsor. In sponsoring visa students, however, faculty members make a commitment to accept those students into their laboratories if the student wishes to join after completing the mandatory rotations. Once a permanent laboratory is chosen, the procedures for visa students are identical to those for non-visa students.

Financial Support During Rotations

Students will be paid the standard stipend during the rotation period. See Student Funding for information on rotation stipends.