Student Achievement

scientist at work

Processes and outcomes

Sanford Burnham Prebys Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences’ processes and outcomes are aimed at learning that supports students’ development as innovative scientists.

The information in this website is intended to help prospective students and others evaluate the Program’s educational goals and the student outcomes of the education we provide. We encourage prospective students to use this information to seek the right environment to pursue their educational and scientific goals.


Program learning outcomes

A student graduating from Sanford Burnham Prebys Graduate School will demonstrate the following as measured by:
  • Strong foundational knowledge as measured by passing core courses, the Qualifying Examination and thesis defense.
  • High quality biomedical research as measured by publication of scientific manuscripts, completion of thesis.
  • Innovative critical thinking and experimental design, as measured by creation and organization of laboratory research & thesis project, writing of scientific papers, receiving fellowships.
  • Clear written communication in standard academic genres such as grant proposals, poster presentations, and scientific articles, as measured by 1st and 3rd year writing requirements, writing of the Qualifying Exam & thesis, publication of scientific papers and awarding of fellowships.
  • Excellent oral communication skills, as measured by presentation evaluations at Data Club and the annual retreat.

Course learning outcomes

All courses and tutorial have designated Course Learning Outcomes. Course Learning Outcomes are listed on each course’s syllabus, and course syllabi are emailed out to students in advance of class. All syllabi are housed in the Graduate School’s files where they are available to all current students.  Students are asked to assess their mastery of the course learning outcomes through the course evaluation system.

Evidence of student learning

Evidence of achievement of student learning outcomes is collected in every course through the use of assignments. The assignment for a particular course is designed to measure student learning for one or more of the Program Learning Outcomes associated with the course. Examples of assignments include research papers, presentations, quizzes and exams. Student scores on the assignments are collected and reviewed to determine how well students are achieving the Program Learning Outcomes. The Associate Dean of Curriculum compiles an annual curriculum report that analyzes the results from each course. The Curriculum Committee convenes at least once per year to review the data and makes changes to the courses and/or curriculum as needed.

Student survey results

We frequently survey students to gain a better understanding of the degree to which specific learning and teaching objectives are being met. The results provide insight into strengths and challenges and allow us to enhance out educational process.

Retention and graduation data

Retention rates measure the percentage of first time entering students who are seeking a graduate degree who return to the institution to continue their studies the following fall. Graduation rate tracks the progress of students who began their studies as full-time, first-time Ph.D. seeking students to see if they complete a degree within 150% of 'normal time' for completing the program.

Student Data  

Legend: I = Introduced, E = Expanded, M = Mastered

  1. Depends on the degree of advancement of the student, and is an on going opportunity for assessment across a timeline of student development
  2. Depends on the content of the workshop/seminar

Where PLOs are met

PLO→ 1 2 3 4 5
Core Curriculum
Molecules to Systems I   I I I
Ethics in Scientific Research I   I I I
Introductory Statistics I   I I  
Modern Drug Discovery Technologies E I I E I
Biological Databases as a Research Tool I I I, E    
Tutorials I     I I
Laboratory Research E, M E, M I, E, M I, E, M I, E, M
Student Data Club   I, E, M* I, E, M1   I, E, M1
First Year Writing Requirement       I  
Qualifying Exam E E E E E
Third Year Writing Requirement       E  
Thesis Dissertation M M M M M
Co-Curricular Activities
Seminars & Workshops I, E   E I, E2 I, E2
Scientific Meetings & Conferences E   E E E
Teaching & Mentoring M   E E E
Scientific Publication   E, M E, M E, M  
Scientific Presentation M   E, M1 E, M1 E, M

Institutional Research Office

GSBS’s Institutional Research Office is responsible for Program-wide activities and initiatives based on the collection and reporting of Program data both in response to requests from internal departments and external organizations and to enhance institutional effectiveness.

  • Support of the institute and GSBS missions and strategic initiatives
  • Collection, management, integration and reporting of data to inform decision-making and resource allocation to support student success
  • Our audience includes prospective and current students, the institute faculty and staff, the public, WASC, and state/federal agencies

Outside resources

The Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education protects students and consumers through the oversight of California's private postsecondary educational institutions by conducting qualitative reviews of educational programs and operating standards, proactively combatting unlicensed activity, impartially resolving student and consumer complaints, and conducting outreach. An individual may contact the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education for a review of a complaint. The bureau may be contacted at 2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 400, Sacramento, CA 95833,, telephone (916) 431-6924 or fax (916) 263-1897.