Thesis Committee Meetings - Third Year Students and Beyond


An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is required annually after successful completion of the candidacy exam.  It should be filled out before each thesis committee meeting.  The goals of the IDP are to help the student develop skills, plan their career, and to facilitate open communication between the student and thesis advisor.   The form is available here with detailed instructions.


Thesis Committee

After successful completion of the Candidacy Exam, the student must select the members for their thesis committee.  

The thesis committee should consist of at least four voting members, three of whom must be from the Biology Graduate Group. The student's thesis advisor shall not be a voting member of the thesis committee. The chair of the thesis committee must be a member of the Biology Graduate Group and cannot be the student's thesis advisor. The names of the thesis committee members must be submitted to the Graduate Chair for approval. Any subsequent changes to this committee must be approved by the Graduate Chair. In addition, the department coordinator must be notified of the committee members and any future changes for notation in the student's file.

After formation and approval of the thesis committee, the Graduate Office will provide a copy of the Candidacy Exam Report to the thesis committee members.    

Thesis Committee Meetings

Third-year students must meet with their thesis committee within six months after successful completion of the Candidacy Exam.   Additional meetings must be held at least once a year or at the discretion of the thesis committee.   The purpose of the meetings is to ensure academic progress. Input from the committee members can be helpful to the student, especially when students encounter technical or other problems in their research.   The committee is there to help the student overcome problems.

Students must advise the department coordinator of committee meetings, including date, time, and location. The department coordinator will provide the committee chair a copy of the student’s file along with a committee meeting review form for completion.

In order to alleviate occasional scheduling difficulties, one committee member can be absent from meetings.   This committee member can attend through online video conferencing or the student can meet with the member at a later date for their input and advice.   Please note that the student's progress report must be submitted to all committee members in advance, even if one member does not attend the meeting.

At least one week prior to the thesis committee meeting, the student will submit the following items to the department coordinator for inclusion in file:

  • CV - should be formatted in accordance with guidelines as staed by NIH, NSF or other appropriate agency.
  • Research summary and progress report, 2 pages in length, stating thesis aims, progress and plans. 
  • Parts B and C of the Individual Development Plan as stated on the form instructions. 

At the start of each meeting, the student will leave the room so that the committee may consult with the advisor regarding progress and any concerns. The student will return and the advisor will leave the room so that the committee may consult in a similar manner with the student.

After the thesis committee meeting, the committee chair will write an evaluation that will be given to the department coordinator for the student’s file. This form can be downloaded at the Forms web page.   The student will also receive a copy of this report for review and comments. At these meetings, the student must show satisfactory progress towards completion of their dissertation research as judged by the thesis committee. If not, the thesis committee can recommend dismissal from the program. Under these circumstances, a Master of Science degree will be awarded.

Please note that thesis committee meetings, as stated in this policy, are a requirement of the Biology Graduate Group as well as a University policy.   Students must schedule their meeting as determined by the committee members.

Should the student fail to schedule a thesis committee meeting within the designated time frame stated at the previous committee meeting, the following actions will be taken:

If the meeting is 3 months past due, the student will be put on official academic probation. The University Registrar’s Office will be notified and a hold placed on the student’s account. The department coordinator and graduate chair will schedule a meeting with the student to discuss the reasons for the delay.

When the meeting is 6 months past due, the stipend will be discontinued, and the student will be dismissed from the program.  

Masters of Science Degree

The Biology Graduate Program is a doctoral degree program. However, occasionally extenuating circumstances arise which require that a student leave the program before completing their doctoral thesis. Under these circumstances, a Masters of Science degree can be awarded if the student has satisfied the following requirements:

  1. All courses must be graded, including lab rotation(s) and/or independent study work. Courses marked as “Incomplete (I)” or “No Grade Reported (NGR or NR)” must be completed before applying for graduation with a Masters degree.
  2. Grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher.
  3. Completion of 14 course units, including lab rotation(s) and/or independent study work. (done after second year of study).
  4. Research paper (thesis proposal) and oral presentation submitted to exam committee.