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Selection of a Major Adviser

Prior to selecting a thesis Committee, a student must select a major (or permanent) adviser. The major adviser will be responsible for supervising all aspects of graduate training and thesis research. It is suggested that, in general, no more than three (3) pre-doctoral (PhD, or PhD/MD) students be allowed per faculty member regardless of rank. However, the choice of each student shall be given precedence dependent upon availability of space (and in some cases, funds) in any one faculty member's program.

Selection of the Thesis Committee

The student should contact each faculty member that he/she would like to have serve on his/her Thesis Committee to determine whether they would be willing to serve. The student, in consultation with his/her adviser, should provide a list of faculty members that he/she wishes to serve on his/her committee to the department chairman. A letter will be written by the Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology to the adviser and each faculty member, who has agreed to serve on the committee, requesting that they so serve. They should reply in writing to the departmental chairman indicating their willingness to serve. The committee shall be constituted of five (5) faculty members plus the Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology who shall be ex-officio member on all committees. If the Chairman is the student's major adviser, then at least two (2) other members of the committee shall be from the core faculty of the Department of Pharmacology. This is to insure that the majority of the committee is from the Department of Pharmacology. The Thesis Committee is required to have two meetings per year, to be arranged by the student; one of these meetings should follow a student's departmental seminar. It is the student's responsibility to set the time for the second meeting and remind the committee members about the date.

The Thesis

The thesis problem should be an in-depth problem in pharmacology utilizing up-to-date technology focusing on testing a hypothesis that has been developed by the student in conjunction with his/her adviser and thesis committee. The thesis problem should focus on a question, rather than the mere collection of data with one technique, and the student should use, if necessary, several techniques available in his/her adviser's laboratory or a special laboratory in another department which are necessary to answer this question. The student and adviser are encouraged to collaborate with other faculty members, within and outside of the department, especially when a new technique or a new area of expertise is available to assist them in answering the basic question which is essential to their thesis problem. The student should have a statement of his/her thesis problem very early in their training in order to make a decision about the technology that they must master in order to answer this question.

Final Defense of the Thesis

In general, the final defense of the thesis will be conducted in a manner similar to that of the oral preliminary examination.

  • A manuscript related to the student’s thesis project must be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal prior to the time of the PhD thesis defense.
  • The preliminary drafts of the thesis shall be read and amended by the adviser and presented to a reading committee composed of the adviser and two other members of the Thesis Committee. Upon satisfaction of the reading committee, the preliminary draft of the thesis shall be submitted to the rest of the thesis committee for their approval. The final draft of the thesis shall be made available to the pharmacology faculty at least ten (10) days before the final oral thesis examination.
  • The student should refer to the thesis guide published by the Biomedical Sciences graduate office in preparing his/her thesis.
  • The thesis committee will initially vote on the final defense. No more than one negative vote of the thesis committee will be accepted for a passing grade. The recommendation by the committee to pass a student will then be presented to the departmental faculty and a simple majority rule will prevail to pass the student.
  • One copy of the final thesis is to be submitted to the BMS Department.  A final exam form by signed by each member of the thesis committee and the department chairman indicating that the student has fulfilled all requirements for the PhD degree.