Research First Philosophy

Our Philosophy

Our graduate program features a unique “Research First” philosophy. This approach emphasizes a ‘research intensive’ focus in place of a ‘coursework intensive’ first year of study. Students select and join research groups upon arriving in Lincoln and have the option of sampling (i.e., doing research rotations) through several groups before making a final choice. There is some coursework in the first year but the emphasis is on research.

Publishing high quality original research and establishing a strong research record is the ultimate goal of graduate school. Students are highly encouraged and supported to produce research publications before the end of their first year of study. A high priority is placed on treating each student as an individual while providing an environment for maximum professional development.


Course work:

  • Low course-load in the first semester: 1 to 2 courses
  • Most courses chosen after selection of a research advisor for a better match of coursework to research
  • More modular, research/technique-oriented courses to be offered better preparation for various research needs


  • Begin research immediately through research rotations
  • Students can do up to 3 half-semester rotations in different laboratories before selection of research advisors
  • Research Update Interview (RUI) with supervisory committee in the second semester of second year create better assessments of coursework, research performance, and feedback.

Click here to view our typical program timeline.