Graduate Student Handbook

Overview of program requirements:

This section provides a brief summary of the requirements of the Biology Graduate Program. Detailed information is available using the links below.

  • Students complete at least 13.5 course credits in the first two years of the program. A minimum of 7 credits are a combination of required and elective courses. The additional 6.5 credits are satisfied by a series of rotations begun in the first semester.
  • Rotations are essential for finding a lab to complete your dissertation research. We encourage students to commit significant time and energy to their rotation project to help ensure a good fit with the lab and to master techniques for future research projects. Rotations are graded and students are expected to follow lab policies for meetings, notebooks, and lab etiquette. 
  • Service has been an important tradition in our graduate program. The Biology Graduate Group formalized this tradition by requiring students to devote 10 - 20 hours per semester toward outreach to the surrounding community. This requirement can be fulfilled by service to the department, to the scientific community, and/or the local community. These duties shall not expand to interfere with the student's progress toward a degree.
  • Students are required to teach as part of their professional development. This requirement is typically fulfilled during the second year of the program.
  • In spring of the second year, students write and defend a research proposal. 
  • After a successful defense of their proposal, students advance to candidacy and are required to meet annually with their thesis committee. Note: Beginning July 1, 2024, students must share entries from their lab notebook with their committee chair.
  • Only the thesis committee can grant the student permission to defend. Permission is typically given when the student has a first author research paper accepted for publication. Additional papers should be in review or preparation stage at the time of the defense.