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Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program ~ PhD Degree Guidelines


A student should choose a dissertation topic or project in consultation with a qualified faculty member in the Biomedical Sciences Program who will undertake and direct the dissertation. With a topic or project agreed on, the faculty member appoints a committee of at least five members, with the director as chair, to serve as a prospectus committee. If the prospectus is approved by this committee and the Assistant Dean, the prospectus committee will serve as the dissertation committee. Normally the student's prospectus-dissertation committee consists of members of the major department, but, with the approval of the dean, the chair may appoint a member from another department or even a faculty member from another institution. The approval of the prospectus as described above also serves as approval of the committee.

Committee Form

Preliminary Exam

Students are expected to complete their preliminary examination upon meeting all course requirements, usually between the end of second year and beginning of the third.

The test is a comprehensive examination covering all aspects of the student’s field of study. It aims to test acquaintance with the scholarship in the field and powers of bibliographical criticism.  The exam is a grant-style written proposal that is handed in two weeks prior to an oral defense.  The scope of the proposal will be that of a 2-3 year research project outlining specific experimental plans designed to address the central scientific question identified by the student. The topic must not directly relate to research ideas generated by the dissertation advisor.

1)    Written proposal to be approved by supervisor (1 page)
2)    Committee Meeting 1: Approval of subject and further recommendations for final exam
3)    Following 6-8 weeks, proposal is handed to committee (7-10 pages single spaced)
4)    Two weeks later oral defense will take place

Proposal Organization:
Specific Aims, Background and Significance, Experimental Design and Predicted Results, Potential Problems in Experimentation or Interpretation, and References.

Preliminary Exam Approval Form


Students are eligible to submit a prospectus following completed course requirements, satisfied research requirements, and passed the general examination. Upon the recommendation of the department, however, the student may submit a prospectus any time after completion of one year of full-time residence. The department recommendation for approval of the prospectus should include three copies of the prospectus itself. The prospectus should be approximately three doubled-spaced typewritten pages. The cover sheet should state the student's name, department, the title of the proposed dissertation, and the name of the chair and the other members of the committee. The introduction of the prospectus should contain a summary of earlier work on the problem. The body should include an orderly description of the plan for the investigation. The conclusion should clearly state the anticipated nature of the investigation results. Major sources of information should be indicated and a selective bibliography attached.

Prospectus Approval Form

Admission to Candidacy

To be admitted officially to candidacy for the Ph.D., a student must have completed course requirements, satisfied research requirements, passed general examinations, and submitted a prospectus of the dissertation approved by the student's dissertation committee and the dean. The recommendation for admission to candidacy is made by the department and must bear the signatures of both the chair of the student's dissertation committee and the chair of the department. The recommendation for admission to candidacy must be submitted to the Assistant Dean's Office no later than September 15 for those expecting to receive the degree in December, or December 15 for those expecting to receive the degree in May, or March 15 for those expecting to receive the degree at the end of the Summer Session.

Admission to Candidacy Form

Thesis Requirements

The subject of the thesis for all Master's degrees must be in the field of major study and must have the approval of the professor by whom the thesis is to be directed. The finished thesis must have the approval of a committee appointed by the university chair of the department. The director of the thesis will serve as chair of the thesis committee. At the request of the director, a member of some other department may be added to the committee.

The original typescript of the thesis must be deposited with the Assistant Dean. The $45 binding fee must be paid at this time.

Dissertation Requirements

The dissertation not only is an essential part of the candidate's degree work but is the appropriate culmination of the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation is the necessary demonstration that the candidate is worthy of taking a place among research scholars in the discipline. It must demonstrate not only mastery of the literature of the subject, but also the ability to carry on independent research that results in a genuine contribution to knowledge or an original interpretation of existing knowledge, and it must do so in a literate and lucid fashion. The dissertation committee shall pass on the acceptability of the dissertation before it is submitted to the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences in final form. (For deadline dates for the appropriate award of degrees, see Calendar.) Acceptability, however, is not final approval. The candidate must defend the dissertation successfully before the degree is awarded. For details, see Final Examination.

On or before deadline dates for dissertation submission, the student must hand into the Program Office the 2 original copies of the dissertation (unbound), one abstract of the dissertation (not more than 350 words), an application for degree, and the Survey of Earned Doctorate.  Before typing the final draft of the dissertation, the student should get a copy of the booklet Preparing Your Dissertation For Microfilming from the Program Office. Students will submit their completed dissertation online to ProQuest at the following link. The charge made for this services is $65.00, and must be paid online when the student submits the material. Copies of the manuscript submitted to the BMS Program Office will then be sent to the Library for binding, cataloging, and shelving.

UMI publishes the abstract in its Dissertation Abstracts, and retains the master negative of the dissertation. Positive film copies of the dissertation may be secured from UMI. One positive copy of the dissertation on film is deposited by UMI in the Library of Congress, and the dissertation is listed in that library's subject and author catalog. The student should keep a copy of the dissertation and submit another copy to the department in which it is written.

The decision to copyright the dissertation must be made at the time the student submits the material to University Microfilms. Copyright may be obtained for $65. Two positive film copies of the dissertation are then deposited in the Copyright Office.

Dissertation & Thesis Submission Guidelines

Students may have their dissertations reviewed for formatting prior to submitting the final copy. Theses/Dissertations are not accepted after the submission deadline and  must be submitted in person. Students should allow themselves ample time to defend their theses/dissertations and complete any necessary revisions before the submission deadline posted by the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences. Please submit electronic copies of your dissertation/thesis with committee signatures to UMI and the Tulane Library for official publication. The thesis submitted to the BMS Graduate Program office must be the final copy, on archival quality paper, with original signatures of the committee.

The dissertation or thesis should be printed on paper approved by the BMS Program Office.

The title page must contain:

  • Subject of the thesis, abstract or dissertation
  • Submission date
  • Department name
  • Signature of the candidate, under which should be typed the candidate's full legal name.
  • Signatures of each of the examining committee members, with the member's full legal name typed underneath, should be listed in the lower right-hand corner.
  • A full list of authorities and books consulted
  • A short biographical sketch must be appended.

Any photostats which form a necessary part of the thesis should be positive (black on white).

A basic style sheet for use in preparing theses and dissertations entitled “Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines” is available online as well as in the BMS Program Office. More detailed instructions for the preparation of the theses or dissertation may be obtained from A Manual of Style , University of Chicago Press ; The M.L.A. Style Sheet ; or A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian, available at the University bookstore. The department chair will advise which guide is preferred.

Check with the Program Office for the final submission date of theses for graduation. If the department in which a master's thesis has been written finds there is sufficient reason to protect the contents by copyright, arrangements may be made through the Assistant Dean.