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 ten 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 s/he encounter difficulties.  Documentation of the progress is submitted to the Program Office.
  3. Presentations
    Students must give (at least) two formal presentations during their time in the program; one at MET 800 seminar and one as the thesis / dissertation defense.
  4. Teaching Symposium
    As part of their training, students must attend one short course on teaching.  Most of our students can take a one-day mini-course on the teaching experience given by our senior graduate students in the summer of each year, which covers the realities and day-to-day responsibilities of a course director and / or TA.  This is typically in Summer of Year One.
  5. Teaching (PhD Only)
    As part of their graduate training, students must serve as a formal TA or a teaching preceptor in one course. This is monitored and assured by program administration.  Students gain experience with designing and grading exams, lectures, and leading discussion sections.  This is typically completed in Year Two.
  6. Summer MET 801 course (formerly MET 699)
    All students must participate in a summer course, where they learn about developing presentations, scientific writing, and grant writing.  The final project is a grant section and a scientific presentation.  This course is typically done in Year One, but students are allowed to complete the course in Year Two.
  7. Preliminary Exam A
    Preliminary Exam A is considered completed once all the above criteria are met and the final grant proposal document is reviewed and given a passing grade by the 699 course instructor.  These first seven steps are almost always completed by the end of Year Two.
  8. Preliminary Exam B (PhD Only)
    This is a specialized annual committee meeting.  The exam consists of a written proposal using NIH or NSF guidelines for grants, 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.
  9. Six Month Meeting (PhD Only)
    This is the next-to-last formal meeting that a student has with his/her 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.
  10. Defense
    For a student to complete his/her degree in Molecular & Environmental Toxicology, s/he must write-up his/her research in the form of a 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 defense typically happens between Years Five and Seven, with the average at 5.5 years to degree.