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Program of Study
The Program of Study and Committee (POSC) form
Forming a POS committee and filing the Program of Study form are done electronically in the POSC form. The Graduate College POSC form serves as a contract between the student and the Graduate College, indicating the minimum coursework that must be completed for the Ph.D. or M.S. degree. Links to information on completing the form are on the forms and publications page.
Students should prepare a tentative Program of Study in consultation with their major professors and arrange a meeting of their POS committee to discuss the proposed Program of Study and research plans. All committee members must be present.
In preparing the Program of Study, the student and major professor should refer to the BCB course requirements to ensure that the planned coursework: 1) meets all BCB requirements, 2) meets all Graduate College requirements, and 3) is appropriate, based on the student’s planned research project.
Approving the POSC
The POS committee will approve the POSC form if the above conditions are met. If courses listed on the POS form do not meet all BCB course requirements, the POSC form will NOT be approved by the BCB program chair. If a waiver is proposed by the committee, a justification explaining the substitutions or deletions can be provided within the on-line POSC. It is recommended that students discuss potential waivers with BCB program administrators prior to submission of a POSC.
Once submitted, students can monitor the progress of POSC approval from their Graduate Student Status screen in their AccessPlus account. The form routes first to major professors, then to committee members, and then to the BCB Program Chair.
Changes to a Graduate College approved POSC must be done by editing the on-line POSC and re-submitting it for approval by the full POS committee and BCB Chair. The form will then route to the Graduate College for final approval.
The POSC and the Preliminary Examination
An approved POSC must be in place the semester before a student takes a preliminary examination. (See Preliminary Examination for more information.)
Transferability of Credits from Other Institutions
The transferability of credits from other institutions is determined on a case-by-case basis by the student's POS committee and the BCB Chair. To waive a course requirement, the student must provide a memo signed by his or her major professor (on behalf of the POS committee) to the BCB Chair indicating that the student has already received satisfactory instruction in the subject matter covered by the required course. Credits for seminars, workshops and colloquia are not transferable.
First POS Committee Meeting
In most cases, a student's POSC form is approved during the first POS committee meeting. Approval of the POS must be obtained before the end of the first semester of the student’s second year (Ph.D.) or before the end of the first year (M.S.)
At least one week prior to the scheduled POS committee meeting, students should prepare the following documents:
• Proposed POSC form
• Description of Proposed Research
The Description of Proposed Research should be concise (usually 2-3 pages) and summarize the major objectives of the research project and planned approaches to achieve these objectives. Because the POS must be approved soon after the student has chosen a major professor, the research description is expected to be preliminary; it is understood that the student's plans may change as the research progresses. The written proposal should be viewed as a tool to help the student plan the dissertation or thesis research and to aid the POS committee members in evaluating whether the proposed POS coursework is appropriate. The research project of BCB students must be interdisciplinary, comprised of both biological and computational/mathematical components. The Description of Proposed Research should be emailed to the committee members one week prior to the first meeting.
Students should be prepared to make a brief oral presentation at the first POS committee meeting. Typically, the student describes his or her academic background (undergraduate institution, previous degrees, research experience, research interests, career goals) during the first few minutes of the meeting. The student then briefly summarizes the proposed research and solicits input from committee members.
The POS committee is responsible for ensuring that the proposed research project is interdisciplinary, including both novel biological and computational/mathematical components.
Additionally, as stated above, the POS committee is responsible for ensuring that the coursework on the POSC: 1) meets all BCB requirements, 2) meets all Graduate College requirements, and 3) is appropriate, based on the student’s planned research project.
Annual POS Committee Meetings
All BCB students must meet with their POS committees annually. A written synopsis of research progress should be provided to the committee in advance of the annual POS committee meeting.
For Ph.D. students, the first POS meeting must be scheduled before the end of the first semester of the second year. In each subsequent year, BCB recommends that Ph.D. students schedule their annual meeting during October. For annual meetings after the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination, only three committee members are required to be present. All committee members must be present for the Final Defense. Ph.D. students are expected to complete their degree work in approximately five years.
For M.S. students, the first POS meeting must be scheduled before the end of the first year (usually late Spring or early Summer semester.) M.S. degree students are expected to complete their degree work in approximately two years. If the M.S degree is not completed within two years, the POS committee should meet at the end of the second year to review student progress and set a target date for completion of the degree. All committee members must be present for the Final Defense.
Complete copies of Ph.D. dissertation should be submitted to the POS committee at least two weeks before the Final Exam date.
Tips for Scheduling POS Meetings
Scheduling POS committee meetings can be challenging, but there are ways to simplify the task. In consultation with the major professor, the student should select four or five potential meeting timeslots, create a Doodle Poll and send the link to the other POS committee members. Provide an option to ask for other times members are free to meet.
Following the advice of the major professor, the student should indicate the expected duration of the planned meeting (usually about one hour) in the email message to POS committee members. This email request should be sent several weeks prior to the proposed date of the first POS meeting. Arrangements for the Preliminary Exam and Final Defense (which require longer time slots) should be made at least one month in advance. After obtaining faculty responses, the student should select a time when everyone can meet, reserve a conference room, and notify the POS committee members of the date, time, and location of the meeting. The whole scheduling process should be completed within two to three days so that timeslots available during the initial inquiry remain available. Email is the most efficient means of scheduling these meetings.
It is important (and courteous) to send an email reminder of meeting times and place to POS committee members two to three days prior to the scheduled meetings.