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Polyploid Cell Cycles in the Fruit Fly Larval Salivary Gland (photo credit: Lisa Antoszewski, Bob Duronio Lab)

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Degree Requirements

Coursework Requirements

4 courses during the first 2 years.

  • 2 must be 3-hour (minimum) graduate-level lecture courses
  • 1 must be a seminar/journal club course
  • the 4th can be either a lecture or seminar/journal club course
  • Specific courses are NOT mandated.

Lecture courses should include two of the following major topic areas

  • Molecular Biology (e.g. BIOL 632)
  • Genetics (e.g. GENET 621)
  • Cell/Developmental Biology (e.g. BIOL 624, CBIO 643, CBIO 644)
  • Biochemistry/Biophysics (e.g. BIOC 601)
  • Microbiology/Immunology (e.g. MCRO 614, MCRO 630, MCRO 635)
  • Other appropriate courses (Bioinformatics for example) can be selected in consultation with an advisor.

Attend weekly departmental seminar series.

 

Dissertation Research

Each semester that you are engaged in dissertation research you will enroll in a 900-level course (exact numbers change depending on your advisor). At the end of the semester you will need to complete a brief report of your research progress, have it signed by your advisor and submit it to the Graduate Student Service Manager. Click here for the report form.

Exam Requirements

Written exam

The written exam is taken by the student at the beginning of the fall semester of his or her second year. Students choose 3 areas (of 4 offered) for concentration. They are given a group of up to 10 papers for each area approximately one month before the exam. They receive questions and answer them at 5 hrs/area over several days at the end of the month, in a written format. The exams are then graded by the Biology MCDB Written Exam Committee. Students who do not pass may be asked to retake all or part of the exam the following year. Click here for a more detailed description of the written exam process.

Feasibility Exam

The feasibility exam is a comprehensive oral examination that is accompanied by a written research proposal. This examination must be held before the end of the spring semester of the third year. This translates into approximately 2 years after the written exam. For the feasibility and oral exam, students write a feasibility proposal on their thesis topic in the NIH NRSA style. The proposal should have preliminary data that has been generated; however, the report should be primarily focused on the logic and feasibility of the project. A member of the thesis committee who is not the mentor will chair this examination. All members of the student’s doctoral committee will examine the student. Grading will be pass or fail. A pass requires the approval of no less than 2/3 (in most instances 4 out of 5) of the committee. Click here for a more detailed description of the feasibility exam. After completion of the Feasibility Exam, students continue to have yearly committee meetings.

Publication Requirement

Students are required to have a first-author (or co-first author) research paper (not a review) accepted in a peer-reviewed journal for graduation. Exemptions to this requirement are expected to be extremely rare and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Graduate Studies Committee and in consultation with the student’s advisor and thesis committee.

Thesis Committee

Graduate student thesis committees will be chaired by a committee member who is a regular member of the Biology department and who is NOT the student’s primary thesis advisor (or co-advisor). Selection of the chair shall be a collaborative choice between the student and the committee.

Thesis committee meetings shall begin by the graduate student being asked to step out of the room to allow committee members to discuss the student’s progress among themselves. Upon being invited back into the room, the student’s primary thesis advisor (or co-advisors) will be asked to step out to allow the student to discuss their progress with the committee. The advisor (or co-advisors) will be invited back in and the full meeting will commence. At the conclusion of the meeting the committee may (but is not required to) ask the student to step out of the room again so that they can reach consensus.

Thesis Defense

After completion of the Feasibility Exam, students continue to have yearly committee meetings. Students must schedule a pre-thesis defense meeting at least 2 months prior to their anticipated thesis defense date, and prior to setting the date.  The committee must give the student permission to defend. Once this date is set, please inform the Graduate Student Services Manager. The defense consists of a written thesis that has been read and approved by the committee, a public seminar describing the thesis work, and a private oral defense of the thesis work with the committee.

Other Requirements

Residence credit of four semesters is required for a Ph.D. degree. The degree time limit for Ph.D. students is 8 years from the date of registration.

Refer to the Graduate School Handbook for additional information regarding required registration, doctoral degree requirements, and other relevant information.

Please inform the Graduate Student Services Manager when any of the above exams and meetings are to take place as forms may need to be prepared.

Have yearly committee meetings at least every 12 months. Student must schedule a pre-thesis defense meeting at least 2 months prior to anticipated thesis defense date, and prior to setting the date. The committee must give the student permission to defend. The defense consists of a written thesis that has been read and approved by the committee, a public seminar describing the thesis work, and a private oral defense of the thesis work with the committee.