Milestones & Path to Degree

Graduate student milestones to degree allow students, advisors, and the program to determine a student’s progress and identify potential issues towards graduation.  Below are the six milestones for PhD degree (note: those that are not applicable for masters students are indicated).

  1. Completion of Coursework
    Students must complete the didactic credit requirements.  These are typically completed in two years.
  2. Annual Thesis Committee Meeting
    All students are required to have an annual committee meeting of their advisor and advisory committee to monitor progress.  The committee meeting is held to assure that adequate progress towards degree is being made and the student can receive help, should they encounter difficulties.  Documentation of the progress is submitted to the Program Office.
  3. Presentations
    Students present during their time in the program. This includes their the thesis /dissertation defense.
  4. Preliminary Exam(PhD Only)
    This is a specialized annual committee meeting.  The exam consists of a written proposal using NIH or F31 guidelines for grants, or other as appropriate as well as a formal presentation of preliminary results and description of future experiments in an exam setting.  The student’s research advisory committee reviews the proposal, attends the presentation, and examines the student about the topic.  If satisfied, the committee signs the student’s warrant and the student will move to candidacy (dissertator status).  This is typically achieved by the end of Year Three.
  5. Six Month Meeting (PhD Only)
    This is the next-to-last formal meeting that a student has with their committee prior to producing a dissertation.  At this meeting, the student will present the thesis outline and gain input on what further experiments may need to be done to complete the degree.
  6. Defense
    For students to completetheir degree in Molecular & Environmental Toxicology, they must write-up their research in the form of a thesis or dissertation, present it in an open seminar, and then defend it in a “closed door” session with the advisor and research advisory committee.  The committee will discuss the student’s work, consider whether the work represents a significant contribution to environmental health, and also whether or not any corrections and/or further experiments need to be done.  Once the student has met these requirements, the student will be able to deposit the dissertation with the Graduate School.  For the program, the PhD defense typically happens between Years Five and Seven, with the average at 5.3 years to degree.