Advancement to the Ph.D. Degree
Advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree requires passing all sections of the Core Curriculum with no more than one section repeated, and satisfactory completion of the Preliminary and Comprehensive Examinations. These requirements (see below) are normally met, in that order, by the end of the second year.
At the beginning of the spring semester of the second year, students are expected to present a departmental talk each academic year (September through May) in the ongoing departmental research seminar, Mostly Molecular Genetics (MMB). Shortly after this presentation the committee and student meet to discuss progress of the project. These meetings provide an opportunity for the student and committee to discuss the student's successes and problems. They also provide an opportunity for the committee to provide useful scientific and practical suggestions. Following the meeting, the Chair of the Thesis Committee submits a brief report to the Graduate Office, with copies to the thesis advisor and the student, indicating that the committee has met and that progress is satisfactory, or noting any specific problems or suggestions, or both, and stating goals for the next year.
Students in MCDB should be able to complete the Ph.D. program in approximately five years. However, under Graduate School rules, doctoral students have six years from date of matriculation in the program to complete all requirements, including filing of the dissertation with the Graduate School.
The doctoral thesis is based upon original research approved and supervised by a member of the Graduate Faculty. The thesis must meet the general requirements of the Graduate School and is usually judged by the standards used to evaluate research for publication in a leading professional journal in the student's area of specialty. Students must have a first author or co-first author paper describing their research "in press" or published to be granted a Ph.D. degree.
Six Month Committee Meeting
At least six months in advance of planned departure, the student should meet with the thesis committee for a review of progress toward completion of the thesis. If the committee does not already include a member from outside MCDB, plans should be made at this time to recruit an outside reader to be included in all activities of the committee until the final acceptance of the thesis. To qualify for consideration of graduation in a given semester, the student must submit the thesis to the committee no less than one month in advance of the University thesis deadline for graduation and three weeks in advance of the planned date for the oral defense.
The oral defense (Final Examination) includes presentation of a public seminar on the thesis research, followed immediately by a meeting between the student and the thesis committee. Other members of the Faculty may attend this meeting if they choose. The candidate may be questioned about the thesis and about areas of science related to the thesis. A successful thesis defense requires the affirmative vote of at least four of the five committee members.