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.

Rocking Your Rotations

Arranging Rotations

The Department arranges the first rotation for each student before they start the program. In July (late November 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. The majority of students are placed within their top three selected labs for this rotation. Students are informed of their rotation assignment by August (mid-December for January starters).

Students are required to rotate in at least two different geographic nodes of the Department, and students should keep this in mind when listing preferred labs. The central 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).

The second and third rotation choices are entirely up to the student, with consent from the selected laboratory and approval from the Graduate Coordinator. Students should make second and third rotation choices 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 second and third rotations are arranged through direct communication between students and potential supervisors and must be finalized at least one week before the commencement of said rotation. These lab choices are submitted for approval through a link that will be sent to you by the Graduate Program Administrator. A departmental retreat held late in September provides an excellent chance to view all the available research opportunities within the Department. Only under rare circumstances and upon approval from the Graduate Coordinator may students perform the fourth rotation. Fifth rotations are never permitted.

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 Grad Team and Grad Coordinator are also available to counsel students regarding rotation selection.

Opting Out Of Rotations For Students Who Have Completed An M.Sc.

Students Who Have Completed an M.Sc. 

Ph.D. applicants who will receive their M.Sc. before 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 Graduate Coordinator and Graduate Program Coordinator when the survey for first rotations is sent out. 

M.D./Ph.D. students 

M.D./Ph.D. students may choose to directly enter a lab (with the supervisor's permission). 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 Graduate Coordinator and Graduate Program Coordinator when the survey for first rotations is sent out.

Failure To Find A Permanent Lab

If a student cannot 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. However, it is extremely rare for an admitted student not to find a suitable laboratory to join.

International/Visa Student Rotations

Visa students must 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 commit to accepting 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.