Recording Frog Advertisement Calls at Mason Farm Biological Reserve (Haven Wiley Lab)
Below are degree requirements for students who enter the Department of Biology as part of the program in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology (EEOB). Additional requirements are in the Graduate School Handbook (http://handbook.unc.edu/) and the Guide to Theses and Dissertations (http://gradschool.unc.edu/etdguide/). If requirements change after you arrive, you may choose to follow the rules in effect when you arrived, or any subsequent set of rules in effect during your tenure at UNC.
It is your responsibility to stay in touch with your major adviser and graduate advisory committee. Likewise, you are ultimately responsible for seeing that you comply with the regulations of the Department of Biology and the UNC Graduate School. Failure to comply may result in losing your financial support or in being dismissed from the program.
The Department of Biology offers a Ph.D. degree and two masters degrees: a Master of Science degree requiring independent research and a thesis, and a Master of Arts degree requiring a written library report. Both masters degrees are terminal degrees; masters students must wish to continue on to the Biology Ph.D. program must apply for admission to the Ph.D. program following completion of the masters degree. However, students admitted to the Ph.D. program sometimes receive a masters degree during their graduate program, in which case reapplication is not necessary.
A. Course Requirements
B. Graduate Adviser
C. Orientation Meeting
D. Graduate Advisory Committee
E. Oral Comprehensive Examination (Ph.D. only)
F. Written Examination
G. Feasibility Meeting
H. Admission to Candidacy
I. Annual Committee Meetings and Progress Reports
J. Pre-Defense Committee Meeting
K. Defensive of Thesis and Dissertation
L. Other Requirements
M. Timeline for Doctoral Students
Every graduate student must gain an understanding of the breadth and depth of the field of Biology as it is treated among various traditional disciplines. This is accomplished in two ways. First, through the required Biology 891 seminar course and, second, through a course of study prescribed by each student’s graduate advisory committee.
For a masters degree a minimum of 30 hours of graduate credit is required, of which no fewer than 24 hours must be earned in regular courses and at least three hours of which must take the form of research and completion of the thesis (MS) or library report (MA).
Each Ph.D. student, in addition to taking Biology 891, must register for Biology 994 at least once for 3 hours credit. There are no other course requirements for the Ph.D. except those designated by (1) the student’s preliminary evaluation committee at the Orientation Meeting (see D below), and (2) the student’s graduate advisory committee at the Oral Comprehensive Exam (see E below).
Most EEOB students select a graduate adviser before beginning graduate school. For students doing rotations in several labs, however, the advisor may not be selected until after rotations are complete. Generally, you must choose an adviser by the end of your first year in graduate school. If you wish to change advisers or add a co-adviser, you must submit your request in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies for approval (these requests must include the reasons for the proposed change). In all cases, at least one adviser must be a faculty member in Biology.
Before or shortly after the start of your first semester in graduate school, you must assemble a preliminary evaluation committee and hold an orientation meeting. The committee should include your adviser, the Director of Graduate Studies, and one additional faculty member of your choosing. The committee will (1) familiarize you with the requirements of the graduate program, (2) suggest coursework, teaching, and other training, and (3) answer any questions you may have about the program. Following this meeting, your adviser should prepare a written summary of recommendations (if any) and give this document to the Manager of Graduate Student Services for inclusion in your file.
You should form a graduate advisory committee to oversee and guide your research by the beginning of your third semester. This process is normally done in consultation with your adviser. Once each individual has agreed to serve on your committee, you should submit this list of the proposed members to the Director of Graduate Studies for approval.
For Ph.D. students, the committee must have at least five members (three for Masters students). A majority must be UNC Biology faculty. A tentative member of the committee who is not currently a member of the graduate faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill must submit a curriculum vitae. When the committee is approved by the Director of Graduate Studies, the Director will nominate the outside individuals to the Dean of the Graduate School, who is responsible for the final appointment of the committee.
If you wish to change the membership of your committee, you must submit a written request to the Director of Graduate Studies for approval (these requests must include the reasons for the proposed change).
Ph.D. students must take a comprehensive oral examination by no later than the end of their second year. The oral exam is the primary examination of general knowledge and should be separated in time from the dissertation feasibility meeting (see G below).
To encourage breadth, you are required, in consultation with your adviser, to identify four areas of proficiency from at least two major categories (Table 2). The selected areas will serve as a focus for preparation and questioning. Ideally, these areas should first be discussed at the time of the Orientation meeting (see C above), so that deficiencies can be addressed through coursework, directed reading, or other forms of preparation. The four areas should each represent a topic that is broad enough to be the subject of an undergraduate course; during the exam, you are expected to demonstrate a level of proficiency in each area that would indicate that you could teach such a course.
In order to pass the exam, a majority of your committee must pass you (your committee may also pass you, but recommend courses to take or classes to TA to make up any deficiencies). If you fail the exam, your committee will discuss whether or not to have you retake the exam. Students who fail a second time will be dismissed from the program.
|Table 2. Recommended Areas of Proficiency for the Oral Exam|
|Category 1. Organismal Biology
Possible Areas of Proficiency*:
Category 2. Super-organismal Biology
Possible Areas of Proficiency*:
Category 3. SUB-organismal Biology
Possible Areas of Proficiency*:
Category 4. special topics‡
Possible Areas of Proficiency*:
*Each area selected should represent a topic that is broad enough to be the subject of an undergraduate course.
‡Students who select an area in category 4 are required to select areas of proficiency from at least two of the remaining three categories.
Each graduate student must pass a written examination. For masters students, each member of the graduate advisory committee will submit to the committee chair one or more questions to be answered within a two-hour period. The full examination must be undertaken and completed within a two-day period. Each question will be graded by at least two members of the committee. Passing of the exam is contingent upon approval of two-thirds of the entire committee.
Ph.D. students are required to prepare a research proposal to satisfy their written exam requirement by the end of their third year. In general, the format of the proposal should conform to an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG: for details, see: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2005/nsf05607/nsf05607.htm). A majority of your committee must approve the proposal in order for you to pass the exam. If you fail, your committee will discuss whether to allow you to revise your proposal. Students who fail a second time will be asked to leave the program.
By the end of their third year, Ph.D. students must schedule a feasibility meeting to defend their research proposal (Note: in most cases, students should hold their feasibility meeting immediately upon completion of the research proposal that satisfies their written exam requirement; see F above). The feasibility meeting should consist of an in-depth discussion and correction of the research plan. You should provide your committee with a copy of your research proposal at least one week in advance of the feasibility meeting. At the meeting, you should present a formal presentation of your research plan, followed by a lengthy discussion with your committee of the research plan. You are strongly encouraged to schedule your feasibility meeting such that the formal presentation portion of the meeting can take place during the regularly schedule “Lunch Bunch” seminar series. At the conclusion of the feasibility meeting, your committee will decide (by majority vote) whether or not to pass you and thereby recommend that you be admitted to candidacy.
Once you have passed your feasibility meeting, you must submit to the Director of Graduate Studies a one-page, non-technical abstract in digital form. The non-technical abstracts will be posted on the Biology website.
To be admitted to candidacy, you must pass the oral comprehensive examination (see E above), written examination (see F above), AND feasibility meeting (see G above). Admission to candidacy is a requirement for certain awards (e.g., NSF DDIGs and certain Graduate School fellowships), so it is a good idea to achieve candidacy as soon is feasible.
You must meet annually with your graduate advisory committee. The purpose of these meetings will be for you to inform the committee of progress toward the completion of your degree since the last committee meeting. A majority of the committee must be present for each meeting. Before the meeting, you must provide each committee member with a 2-3 page written progress report (these progress reports may include data collected since the last meeting, papers submitted, meetings attended, grants received, etc.). Following the meeting, this progress report must be signed by all committee members who approve of your progress and turned in to the Manager of Graduate Student Services. If the majority of your committee does not sign the report, you will be deemed to have not made adequate progress, and the situation will be brought to the attention of the Director of Graduate Studies. Students who fail to meet with their committee within a year will have their stipend withheld beginning the following semester (pay will be reinstated immediately following documentation of a committee meeting). Exceptions to these requirements can only be granted by the Director of Graduate Studies.
Before scheduling your final thesis defense, you must provide your graduate advisory committee with a synopsis or outline of your thesis and meet with your committee. You will not be allowed to schedule a final thesis defense until the majority of your committee agrees that you are ready to defend. Your graduate adviser must provide the Manager of Graduate Student Services with a letter acknowledging the committee’s approval in order for the defense to be scheduled.
In the semester of graduation, a student who has prepared an M.S. thesis or Ph.D. dissertation will present a final defense, which is an oral exam consisting of a public seminar on the research, followed by a discussion of the work with the student’s graduate advisory committee. A student who has prepared a library report for an M.A. degree will take a final oral examination that is a combined examination of the student’s comprehension of their area of specialization and a defense of the report. In either case, passing of the final exam is by an absolute majority vote of all members of the Advisory Committee.
Residence credit of two semesters is required for a masters degree and four semesters is required for a Ph.D. degree. The degree time limit for masters students is 5 years from the date of registration, and for a Ph.D. student 8 years.
The guidelines below provide two possible timelines: a recommended timeline, and a required timeline. Faculty and students are encouraged to follow the recommended timeline. Students must petition the Director of Graduate Studies if the required timeline is not met.
|Table 3. Timeline for Doctoral Students|
|Activity||Recommended Timeline||Required Timeline|
|Orientation meeting||Start of 1st semester||Start of 1st semester|
|Form graduate committee||End of 2nd semester||End of 3rd semester|
|Oral exam||End of 3rd semester||End of 4th semester|
|Written exam||End of 4th semester||End of 6th semester|
|Feasibility meeting||Early in 5th semester||End of 6th semester|