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PhD Program
 

PHD PROGRAMS

>> Procedure for Doctoral Studies

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Procedure for Doctoral Studies


NOTE: It is the students' responsibility to make sure that the PhD requirements and documentation are fulfilled in a timely manner according to the sequence outlined below, and to keep the Advising Office informed of their progress. Upon periodic review, students who are not up to date will receive a registration hold until the requirements are met.

The following synopsis is a combination of Graduate School and Departmental requirements. Required forms are referenced by letter code with examples attached on the following pages; actual forms should be obtained in the department advising office.

Overall progress monitoring:


- Annual Graduate Student Progress is maintained in the departmental advising office; it requires updating by the advisor with input from the student each year. For this and all other records of progress, the student should maintain regular contact with the advising office to confirm that progress has been properly documented and is officially on record in the Graduate School. This will help avoid critical last-minute delays that can be caused by clerical errors or misunderstandings. A rolling record for each student will be maintained on an organization page (Biological Sciences PhD Progress Group) found on Blackboard.  Students are encouraged to monitor their listings to insure that the data are correct.

FIRST YEAR:

- Admission . An admitted student is classified as a PhD Applicant until the Graduate School receives and approves a dissertation outline and prospectus (see below). A provisional advisor (Graduate Officer) is assigned for new students until a dissertation advisor is chosen.



- Lab rotation . All first year doctoral students must enroll in the lab rotation course, BIO 9996, 2 credits per term while they are completing their rotations. This is a research experience in up to four faculty labs, designed to facilitate choosing the permanent dissertation advisor and becoming familiar with a variety of faculty programs.
Before arriving, students will be asked to identify two laboratories in which they wish to complete their first two rotations.  Each rotation will last one half of a semester.  PhD students may choose to rotate in additional laboratories in the second semester, but may decide on an advisor anytime after completing two rotations.

- Selection of Dissertation Advisor . A dissertation advisor should be chosen, with his/her agreement, any time after the lab rotation but no later than the end of the first year.



- Formal coursework begins, as recommended by the faculty advisor. (Consult advising office for specific requirements.)

-Qualifying exams.  Qualifying exams may be scheduled as early as July of the first year.  If the qualifying exam is scheduled within the first year, a Dissertation Advisory Committee must be established.  See below for more details.

SECOND YEAR:

- Continue formal coursework, and continue or begin research. (The following should be completed by the end of the second year)



- Plan of Work . The list of all courses to be taken must be signed by the dissertation advisor and the graduate officer and submitted to the departmental advising office (required by the Graduate School before 40 credits are completed).



- Dissertation Advisory Committee . Minimum of 3 departmental members including advisor (4 if there are two departmental co-advisors) and one outside member; obtain graduate officer signature and return form to the departmental advising office (a subsequent change of committee membership requires FORM C-1). This committee should hold a preliminary meeting with the student to discuss the general research plan. Inform the advising office and Chair of the Graduate Committee of the intended date of the written qualifying exam.



- Written Qualifying Examination : Upon successful completion of the exam, obtain signatures of the advisory committee and file Candidacy Form in the departmental advising office.



- Annual Advisory Meeting . Following the written qualifying exam, the advisory committee must meet a minimum of once each year to review the student's progress until the degree is completed; verify each meeting by the Annual Graduate Student Progress Report form.

THIRD YEAR:

- Continue Annual Advisory Meetings, research, and coursework.



- Dissertation Prospectus . The prospectus format is in grant proposal style (approximately 10 to 20 pages), with sections including Specific Aims, Background and Significance, Progress & Preliminary Data, and Research Design & Methods. Submit to the advisory committee for review at least two weeks prior to the oral qualifying exam.



- Oral Qualifying Examination . The oral exam must be completed within one year of the written exam. It is primarily a defense of the prospectus (additional topics may be specified by the advisory committee). The arrangements are initiated in and coordinated by the department advising office.



- Dissertation Outline. The completed Outline form is submitted together with the Prospectus to the advising office, which will forward them to the Graduate School. Upon acceptance by the Graduate School, the student is classified as a PhD Candidate .

- Dissertation Research Credits.  Students may register for BIO 9991 (7.5 credits) in the semester in which they take their Oral Qualifying Exams.  All students must register for BIO 9991 at the latest in the semester following successful completion of the Oral Qualifying Exam.  Students must register for BIO 9992, 9993, and 9994 in the consecutive semesters following BIO 9991 (7.5 credits per semester).

FOURTH and subsequent years:

- Continue Annual Advisory Meetings, research, and coursework.


- Dissertation writing: follow Graduate School format guidelines.

FINAL TERM:

- FiIe for graduation on or before last day of formal registration.



- Change of Y grades (Dissertation advisor must convert all 999X Y grades to standard grades.)



- Public Dissertation Defense . The arrangements are initiated in and coordinated by the department advising office. Obtain and observe filing timeline set by the Graduate School; avoid last minute scheduling.

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PhD. Curriculum  

Overview:
The goal of the Ph.D. curriculum in the Department of Biological Sciences is to prepare students to be scholars and independent researchers. The revised curriculum seeks to balance the conflicting time demands on students for formal coursework and for an intensive research experience. We recognize that formal training should reflect the general area of discipline, which is best represented by the divisions rather than the department as a whole. The curriculum will allow the student and his/her advisor flexibility in designing the plan of work while maintaining a sufficient level of departmental oversight to preserve high academic standards. As such, a student's plan of work must conform to at least one of the following formats.


Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Division

Major Requirements (At least 12 credits of the following courses):


BIO 5040 Biometry (4 credits)


BIO 5330 Principles and Applications of Biotechnology I (3 credits)


BIO 6000 Molecular Cell Biology I (3 credits)


BIO 6010 Molecular Cell Biology II (3 credits) 


BIO 6160 Proteins and Proteomics (3 credits)


BIO 6330 Principles and Applications of Biotechnology II (3 credits)


BIO 7020 Comprehensive Virology (3 credits)

BIO 7500 Prokaryotic Gene Structure and Function (4 credits)


BIO 7510 Eukaryotic Gene Structure and Function (4 credits)

 

Evolutionary and Organismal Biology Division

Major Requirements:

Ecology Concentration (At least 4 courses from the following):

BIO 5040 Biometry (4 credits)


BIO 7110 Aquatic Ecology (4 credits)

BIO 7440 Terrestrial Ecology (4 credits)

BIO 7490 Population and Community Ecology (3 credits)


BIO 7540 Ecosystem and Landscape Ecology (3 credits)

 

Evolution Concentration (At least 4 courses from the following):

BIO 5040 Biometry (4 credits)


BIO 6060 Molecular Evolution (3 credits)


BIO 6090 Population Genetics (3 credits)


BIO 7150 Genomics (3 credits)


BIO 7280 Bioinformatics (3 credits)

 

Additional courses to augment a student’s specialty

BIO 5330 Principles and Applications of Biotechnology I (3 credits)


BIO 5620 Developmental Biology (3 credits)


BIO 6000 Molecular Cell Biology I (3 credits)


BIO 7090 Molecular Basis of Development (3 credits)


BIO 7060 Evolutionary and Developmental Biology (3 credits)


BIO 7120 Molecular Basis of Plant Development (3 credits)


BIO 7180 Field Investigations in Biological Sciences (3 credits)

 

 

Cellular, Developmental, and Neurobiology Division

Major Requirements (At least 12 credits of the following courses):


BIO 5040 Biometry (4 credits)


BIO 5330 Principles and Applications of Biotechnology I (3 credits) 


BIO 5620 Developmental Biology (3 credits)


BIO 6000 Molecular Cell Biology I (3 credits)


BIO 6010 Molecular Cell Biology II (3 credits)


BIO 6330 Principles and Applications of Biotechnology II (3 credits)


BIO 6690 Neurobiology I (3 credits)


BIO 7090 Molecular Basis of Development (3 credits)


BIO 7660 Neurobiology II (3 credits)

 

Full curricula:
The Graduate School also requires at least 30 credit hours at the 7000 level or higher exclusive of BIO999X (Doctoral Dissertation Research of which 30 credits are required). A full plan of study including any additional courses will be decided on by the advisor and the student and reviewed and approved by the student's dissertation committee. The Graduate School allows a maximum of 30 credit hours of BIO 7996 Directed Research.  Additionally, all PhD students must take BIO 8995 Graduate Seminar (2 credits per semester) for two semesters and BIO 9996 Lab Rotation (2 credits per semester) for at least one semester in their first year.

Core course requirements may be waived for a student if the student has demonstrated experience in and mastery of the topic. The Graduate Officer and Graduate Committee Chair will review requests for waivers. Waivers do not release the student from the minimum Graduate School course requirements.

Present qualifying exam regulations and scheduling will be followed.

All first year students will be advised by the Graduate Officer and/or the Graduate Committee Chair.

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Qualifying Exam

Ph.D. students are required to pass qualifying examinations before advancing to candidacy for a Ph.D. The qualifying examinations are administered in two parts. The first part of the qualifying examination is a written test, which is taken by all students.  Students may take the written qualifying exam in July of their first year, November of their second year, or April of their second year. The decision of when to take the exam is made jointly by the student and the advisor.  The student’s complete Dissertation Advisory Committee will administer the written qualifying exam.   A list of examination topics will be generated by the Advisory Committee and submitted to the student two months before the scheduled exam. Each of the four topics will be graded anonymously by two two committee members on a pass/fail basis. Each student must pass a minimum of three topics. If a student does not pass the minimum number of topics, he or she must retake the exam during the next qualifying exam period (July, November, April).

Students who pass the written qualifying examination will take the oral examination within a year of successful completion of the written qualifying exam. Students are expected to complete a written prospectus of their thesis research. This prospectus will be in the form of a grant proposal. The oral examination will include, but not be limited to, a defense of the prospectus. The examiners will be members of the student’s graduate committee. The oral examination will be graded on a pass/fail basis. Students who do not pass the first oral examination must retake the examination within the following semester. Successful completion of the written and oral exams fulfills the qualifying exam requirements for Ph.D. candidacy.

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Biological Sciences
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Phone: (313) 993-4217
Fax: (313) 577-6891
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