The goal of the Master's degree in biology is to provide the student with an advanced understanding of modern concepts in those fields within an experiment-based context.


1. Selection of a major professor. Before the completion of the first 9 hours of graduate credit, the candidate should select a major professor.

2. In consultation with the major professor, the candidate should assemble a supervisory committee including the major professor as chair and at least two additional graduate faculty members. After approval, the Dean of the Graduate School will formally appoint the supervisory committee.

3. The supervisory committee will advise the candidate in developing a plan for scholarship, suited to the long-term objectives of the candidate. Because the Biology graduate faculty strongly feel that research is an integral component of graduate education, the plan for scholarship must have a research component. In nearly every case, this plan for scholarship will be a mix of: (i) appropriate coursework, and (ii) a research project that will lead to the formulation of a thesis. This plan will be presented to the Biology Graduate Selection and Review Committee as a program of study.

In rare instances, a thesis option may not be appropriate for the long-term objectives of the candidate. In such cases, should convincing arguments be made to the Biology Graduate Selection and Review Committee, the supervisory committee may recommend a report option. The direction of the report must be consistent with the graduate faculty mandate that experimentation is an integral component of biology graduate education.

4. The supervisory committee is responsible for administering the final examination to the candidate. This examination shall take the following form:

a. The committee shall agree that the candidate has made the progress necessary to warrant a final examination. Most often, this decision is made following the successful formulation of a thesis (or report).

b. After a thesis (report) has been submitted which is suitable for review, the committee shall request an examination be scheduled by the Graduate School.

c. The examination will consist of: (i) an oral presentation by the candidate in which the scholarship is demonstrated, and (ii) a question/answer session between the candidate and the committee members. During this session, committee members may ask questions which lie beyond the specific focus of the thesis (or report) and which test in a comprehensive manner the breadth of learning documented in the program of study.

d. The committee will discuss the results of this examination, and will vote appropriately on the ballot provided by the Graduate School.

5. Graduate School regulations permit a second examination from 2 - 15 months after the first, should the candidate not successfully pass the first examination. The supervisory committee shall notify the Biology Graduate Selection and Review Committee concerning the failed examination, and concerning the steps that the supervisory committee will take to assist the student.


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