Advanced Degree Program for Corporate Employees (ADP)

A biochemistry and molecular biology student working in the lab

About the ADP Program


The Advanced Degree Program for Corporate Employees was established in 1994, as a pilot program, at the University of California, Davis, by Dr. Martina Newell-McGloughlin. Her goal was to expand academic-industry interactions and enable employees at regional biotechnology, biomedical, or bioscience corporations to pursue a doctoral degree. Since that time, this unique, niche doctoral program has been administered by the Biotechnology Program.

The first graduate completed their doctoral degree in 1998 (Dr. Zheng Wei, employed at Glycomed during his doctoral program), followed by two additional students in 2000 (Dr. Irene Kuhn and Dr. Jiing-Huey-Lin from Berlex). These three initial ADP students belonged to the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) graduate program, which has since evolved into the Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (BMCDB) graduate program. Also in 2000, Dr. Judy Kjelstrom took over direction of the ADP and four additional graduate programs joined as affiliates (Cell and Developmental Biology, Genetics [now Integrative Genetics and Genomics], Physiology [now Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology], and Plant Biology.

Since then, several additional students have graduated, a faculty advisory committee was formed, and additional graduate programs were added to the list of affiliates (see below). The ADP remains an effective mechanism for biotech companies to support the educational goals of high value employees and to engage in their educational process. Corporate sponsors are asked to provide professional mentorship to their doctoral student employee, work closely with this student and campus faculty in helping to define a suitable research project that may be carried out at the company, and to fund ADP activities via a $7500 annual sponsorship agreement.

Admissions and Mentorship

As a first step, ADP students must be admitted to a participating graduate program via the normal processes. Once admitted, ADP students will be expected to complete all required coursework, laboratory rotations, exams and other professional development activities for the specific graduate program. Coursework will generally require a minimum of ~3-4 quarters of residence / in-person attendance at UC Davis before returning to the company for a focus on the dissertation-related research project. For more information on UC Davis graduate program admissions, please see the Office of Graduate Studies website.

UC Davis Faculty Mentoring

Graduate students in the ADP will generally conduct laboratory rotations before choosing a major professor. UC Davis faculty mentors listed below have expressed enthusiasm for the ADP and are willing to work closely with the participating doctoral student(s) and corporate mentor(s) to guide dissertation research.

Corporate Scientist Mentoring

Corporate scientists mentoring ADP students will interact closely with the students' UC Davis PI's and other faculty, including members of dissertation committees, in order to guide ADP students' doctoral research and acquisition of professional skills needed to succeed in their chosen career paths.  Corporate mentor(s) will facilitate the ADP student research project on-site and ensure that sensitive IP does not prevent the student from publishing and communicating about their dissertation work, as needed, for normal degree progress and CV-building.  Effort should be made to provide stable, transparent guidance to each ADP student on this shareable dissertation project where the IP confidentiality is manageable. ADP student dissertation projects will need to be discussed by faculty and disseminated via typical modes of scientific communication [conference posters, talks and journal publications] as part of the student's doctoral training experience.  

Student Fees and Support

Corporate students in the Advanced Degree Program are responsible for the same enrollment fees as students in other graduate programs at UC Davis. The campus will not offer financial support. If the corporation will be paying the student's fees, it is the student’s responsibility to arrange for this.

In addition, each corporation/industry partner will be asked to sign a sponsorship agreement and contribute $7,500 per ADP student, annually. A portion of this contribution will be returned to the ADP student's home graduate group (70%) and a portion will be used to support the Biotechnology Program's administration of the Advanced Degree Program (30%).


Corporate employees who wish to be considered for admission into the Advanced Degree Program should send an email to the Biotechnology Program ( expressing interest, along with a current CV, at least three months prior to the graduate program application deadline.


Participating UC Davis Graduate Programs

College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences (CAES) Graduate Programs

Pharmacology & Toxicology

College of Biological Sciences (CBS) Graduate Programs

Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology 
Integrative Genetics and Genomics
  • For a list of potentially interested faculty, please contact the graduate group.
Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology 
  • For a list of potentially interested faculty, please contact the graduate group.

Plant Biology
  • For a list of potentially interested faculty, please contact the graduate group.

College of Engineering (COE) Graduate Programs

Chemical Engineering
Materials Science and Engineering

School of Veterinary Medicine Graduate Programs


Graduate Program Activities 

The ADP is designed to meet the special needs of corporate students while maintaining campus standards for graduate education. Below is a list of commonly required doctoral student activities. Please check with the individual graduate programs listed above for specific requirements, including coursework and milestone exams.

Laboratory Rotations
Corporate students participate in laboratory rotations if required by the graduate group/program. Students choose laboratory rotations that help broaden the research experience. Most graduate programs require three to four rotations in different laboratories before the student joins the lab in which the thesis research will occur. Usually, corporate students return to their sponsoring industrial laboratory for completion of their thesis research. However, other arrangements are possible if approved by the thesis committee.

Teaching Assistantships
Students may undertake a one-quarter teaching assistantship if required by the graduate group. The corporate student can meet this requirement during the first year when he or she is a resident on campus.

Qualifying Examinations
Corporate students and other graduate students in the degree program must successfully complete a qualifying examination to advance to candidacy for a Ph.D. A qualifying examination committee appointed by Graduate Studies oversees the examination, which usually occurs at the end of the second year.

Dissertation Committee
Each student in the degree program has a three-member dissertation committee.  In general, a major professor chairs the committee and the student’s corporate mentor serves as co-chair. The remaining member of the committee is a faculty member in the graduate group/program.