Research Rotation Program

Section II, Article 2

Rotations are short experiences in Emory research groups for the benefit of first year scholars. The rotation program is intended to acquaint scholars with the research and resources of the Department before they choose a research home for pursuing their PhD. All scholars are required to complete three rotations before joining a research group.

Rotation Dates Updated for 2022

The dates in this article are up-to-date for 2022 rotations as of August 16, 2022.

Rotation Structure

Group Exploration Period

August 24 – September 13

Submission of Rotation Preferences

September 14 at 8 am

Scholars submit three unranked rotation choices to the Graduate Program Coordinator on the Group Exploration Period form. Faculty will have an opportunity to review the names of all scholars who have requested a rotation in their lab and indicate their response to the request to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Rotation Assignments and Notification

September 16

Scholars will be advised of the faculty response to rotation requests and receive a rotation schedule. Scholars who fall short of the required three rotations will be required to meet with the DGS to discuss their options and secure three rotation placements.


Rotation 1: September 19 – October 7
Rotation 2: October 10 – October 28
Rotation 3: October 31 🎃 – November 18

Faculty have considerable flexibility in assigning rotation activities. At a minimum, satisfactory completion of the rotation will require attendance at all group meetings, seminars, scholar seminars, and/or journal club activities scheduled during the rotation period. Faculty may set a minimum hour-per-week requirement for graduate scholar engagement.

During the time a scholar is engaged in a rotation, the scholar’s total research effort should be focused on that rotation. Faculty cannot require that scholars participate in research activities in a group outside their current rotation assignment. Scholars are expected to complete coursework and TA responsibilities during rotations and rotation requirements should account for these responsibilities. With these requirements in mind, scholars should feel free to participate broadly in the intellectual life of the department.

Discernment and Discussions

November 21 – November 30

Scholars are encouraged to meet with their rotation advisors during this time with the goal of finalizing their group selection. Faculty and scholars are encouraged to be candid about their goals during this period. However, group assignment is only finalized after the DGS has reviewed all the faculty commitments after the scholar submits their selected group.

Rotation Etiquette 

Rotation and group selection is an opportunity to fully explore scientific opportunities at Emory and to join a group with confidence. However, the inherent uncertainty in this process can be stressful for scholars and faculty. Based on feedback from scholars, clear and consistent “rules of engagement” for both students and faculty help to ensure a positive rotation experience.

The following rules for rotation etiquette should guide faculty, current scholars, and rotating students:

  • Faculty are encouraged to provide clear feedback related to performance during the rotation but to remind rotators that group selections cannot be made until the rotation period has concluded. At the risk of being prescriptive, we suggest that the following language would be appropriate: “I would be happy to discuss group placement with you at the end of the full rotation period.” Rotators, in turn, should not press faculty for a commitment prior to the conclusion of the rotation experience.
  • Faculty are asked not to accept rotators that they are not willing to consider for placement in their group. Faculty have the option of advertising a cap on the number of rotation students and group members that they plan to accept during the Exploration Period.
  • Faculty and rotators are asked to confine their discussions of other groups to issues related to scientific work rather than group placement.
  • To accommodate the need for in-depth discussion about group placement, faculty should plan time to meet with rotators after rotations conclude and before the group selection deadline. Students should be proactive in scheduling these discussions.

Changes to Rotation Placements

A scholar may change their choice of the second and/or third rotation group during an earlier rotation. The scholar must submit a petition stating the reasons for the requested change. The DGS will discuss the petition with all faculty involved and advise the scholar of the outcome.

Summer Rotations

Scholars who have completed a summer rotation have two options for the fall semester:

  1. Request to repeat a rotation in the same group pending available space;
  2. Select three new rotation advisors, completing a total of four rotations.

Scholars enrolled during summer may not skip a fall rotation.

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