PhD Program

A. For general requirement see the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Graduate Student Handbook.

B. Information concerning the steps toward completing a Ph.D. degree and dissertation. A committee, which includes the dissertation director and usually four to six faculty members, will be set up to direct the student in intensive study of an area of biology:

  1. The general examination committee will be selected by the dissertation director and the student. The committee is chaired by the dissertation director on appropriate fields of study, course work, and target dates for written comprehensive exams.
  2. Students entering Ph.D. programs with baccalaureate degrees must register to a minimum of 72 semester hours of approved graduate work prior to graduation. Forty-eight to 60 semester hours of course work must be taken in preparation for the General Examination. The student must register for 12 to 24 hours of dissertation research.

    Students entering Ph.D. programs with Master's degree must register for a minimum of 48 semester hours of approved graduate work prior to graduation. Twenty-four to 36 semester hours of course work must be taken in preparation for the General Examination.
  3. Each student is required to complete the General Examination no later than the semester following the completion of course requirements. The examination is composed of a written examination followed by an oral examination before the entire examining committee. Each member will contribute questions for the written exam and view the completed exam prior to the oral exam. The oral exam shall be taken within one week of the written exam. A single grade shall be given by majority vote of the committee. 

    The student's performance must be graded and the results reported to the Graduate Advisor within one week. A student failing an exam may be given one re-examination upon request, after the lapse of one semester, if the general examination committee so approves by majority vote.
  4. The Dissertation Research Committee shall consist of the dissertation director and the final readers of the dissertation. The Committee is chaired by the dissertation director or the departmental codirector if the director is not a full-time member of the Biology Department faculty. The committee should consist of the dissertation director (and co-director) and at least 2 readers and 2 examiners. At least one examiner shall not be a member of the Biological Sciences Department, nor shall this person have been directly associated with the production of the dissertation.
  5. General format of the Dissertation Proposal should be the same as that for a M.S. thesis proposal (see p.4). The proposal must be typed and approved by the dissertation director (and co-director if there is one) and then given to all members of the dissertation committee except the outside examiner at least 14 days prior to oral presentation of the proposal by the candidate before the dissertation committee. The presentation is open to interested faculty and graduate students as nonparticipants. Following the presentation, the proposal must be approved by the dissertation committee in executive session, and one copy of the approved proposal must be submitted to the Graduate Advisor. Following the approval of the proposal, any changes in the research plan must be approved by the dissertation committee. The proposal should be submitted before substantial data collection begins, but generally no later than one semester following the general oral examination.
  6. See the Theses and Dissertations page regarding guidelines for preparing the dissertation. A printed copy of Information on Theses and Dissertations is available from the Columbian College. The style of the dissertation shall be in accordance with that of the AIBS style manual or that of an appropriate professional journal. Students are urged to begin their dissertation work as early in the program as possible.
  7. All Ph.D. candidates must present at least one seminar on the topic of their doctoral research to the Biology Department prior to graduation.
  8. Information concerning the Oral Dissertation Defense is discussed in Appendix B.

C. Checklist of steps to complete Ph.D. (not necessarily done in the following order):

  1. Set up general examination committee to establish program of study.
  2. Complete approved program course work.
  3. Pass General Examination.
  4. Set up dissertation committee.
  5. Oral presentation of the Ph.D. dissertation proposal to the dissertation committee.
  6. Complete Dissertation research and write dissertation.
  7. Present a seminar to the Department on dissertation topic.
  8. Pass the Oral Dissertation Defense.