Program Requirements and Timeline

  Summary of academic requirements

Common (shared) requirements

A common set of policies and guidelines applies to all degree options (AS, IOB, and MB). Additional option-specific course recommendations or requirements may be established by the faculty within each option.

Number of credits:

The M.S. degree requires completion of a minimum of 30 credits, up to 10 of which may be earned for thesis research (BIOL 899). There is no specific credit requirement for the Ph.D., though students must take all required core courses. The Biological Sciences Program specifies 4 credits’ worth of required (core) courses (BIOL 901 and 903, 2 credits each); most students use 6 more credits to satisfy competencies in experimental design/analysis (BIOL 811 or 933, 4 credits) and in writing/communication (BIOL 902 or BIOL/LSA 950, 2 credits), though these competencies may also be fulfilled by other graduate coursework approved by the student’s committee.

Course requirements:

1. Graduate Core Courses. The first-semester Introductory Graduate Seminar (BIOL 901) focuses on key information and skills for a successful transition into the graduate program, familiarizing students with program requirements and faculty. Graduate Research Techniques (BIOL 903) is normally taken in the second semester, and introduces students to a diversity of research approaches, tools, and facilities within the program.

2. Competency requirements in (a) experimental design and analysis, and (b) scientific writing/communication. These may be fulfilled by previous graduate coursework (as determined by the student’s advisor and graduate committee), or by taking one graduate-level course in each area. For details about specific courses, see Chapter 3.

3. Electives. Students will work with their advisor and committee to identify additional courses appropriate for their area of specialization.

Teaching experience:

All students in the Biological Sciences Program are expected to acquire teaching and/or mentoring experience while pursuing their research. Those with a strong interest in teaching should consider the Cognate in College Teaching (www.unh.edu/cetl/cognate); individual courses in the cognate curriculum can also be taken separately.

M.S. degree

Students plan a program of study in conjunction with their advisor and Master’s Thesis Committee, including the required core courses and competencies. Completion of at least 30 credits, including research credits, is required. A thesis proposal is developed within the first year. Students complete thesis research for 6 to 10 credits; the degree is completed when results are acceptable, a formal thesis presentation and defense has occurred, and the thesis is approved by the Master’s Thesis Committee and accepted by the  Graduate School. For details about committee formation, thesis proposals, presentations, and defenses, see Chapter 3.

Ph.D. degree

Students work with their advisor and their Doctoral Guidance Committee to plan a program of study including the required core courses and competencies, and develop a viable research proposal. The Guidance Committee is normally established by the end of the first semester, and should meet by the end of the second semester. The student presents to the Guidance Committee a preliminary research proposal in which the soundness, originality, and feasibility of the planned research are clearly described. The Guidance Committee is responsible for approving the proposal, and also oversees the qualifying examination through which the student is admitted to doctoral candidacy. The Doctoral Dissertation Committee is established at this point. To earn the Ph.D. degree, students must complete an original dissertation project, present the results at a public seminar, and pass an oral thesis defense consisting of questions from members of the Dissertation Committee. For details about committees, thesis proposals, qualifying exams, presentations, and defenses, see Chapter 3.

Overview (including summary table)

The M.S. degree should normally be completed in two years. The University requires that all graduate work for any master's degree must be completed within six years from the date of enrollment in the program.

The Ph.D. degree should normally be completed within five years (three years for students entering with a master’s degree). All graduate work for the Ph.D. must be completed within eight years of enrollment, or within seven years if the student entered with a master's degree in the same field. Per University policy, the student must be advanced to candidacy within five years after enrollment or within four years if the student entered with a master's in the same field; however, these are outside limits: advancement to candidacy should usually occur in the second or third year.

Subject to satisfactory progress by the student, financial support is provided up to the limit stated in the admission letter: normally two years for M.S. and four years for Ph.D. Additional support may be available based on a clear need arising from the nature of the research (e.g. field or agricultural projects that require two summers of data), and evidence of strong progress toward completion. A decision to request additional support must be made by the start of the final semester of guaranteed support (see Chapter 4 for details).

Students and research projects do not all progress at the same pace. The following is offered as a guide, but departure from it is permissible when circumstances warrant. There are, however, some firm Graduate School deadlines that must be adhered to: see https://www.gradschool.unh.edu/dates.php for details.

 

Biological Sciences Graduate Program degree checklists – updated AUGUST 2017                                                             

I. M.S. THESIS TRACK in BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (all options)

Requirement

Timing

Notes

 

Year One

 

Meet with advisor

at or before start of 1st semester

Initial curriculum and research planning

BIOL 901 (Intro Grad Seminar)

at or before start of 1st semester

Core requirement

BIOL 903 (Grad Research Techniques – option-specific)

first spring semester

May be required in some options: consult advisor or option rep.

BIOL 811 or  933 or other graduate course approved by advisor & committee

1st year

Experimental design/analysis competency; prior graduate coursework may fulfill

Preliminary research proposal

end of 1st semester

Usually as part of BIOL 901

MS Thesis committee formed

by end of 1st  semester

Submit form to Graduate School

MS thesis proposal

by end of 2nd semester

Submit to advisor & committee

Annual progress review by GPCC

spring semester

Student and advisor reports submitted in advance; GPCC provides feedback

First committee meeting

spring semester

Present & get feedback on research proposal and summer research plans

Seminar presentation

spring semester

Coordinate with committee meeting if possible

Teaching/mentoring experience

(may be either year)

As defined by committee

 

Second Year

 

Formal committee meeting

once per semester

 

Presentation in UNH Graduate Research Conference or other public seminar on campus

spring semester

Presentation of thesis research at a professional meeting may substitute

Thesis defense: public seminar, oral exam by committee

 

Replaces annual review by GPCC in final year

File intent to graduate form

by Graduate School deadline: https://www.gradschool.unh.edu/dates.php

Submit form to Graduate School

Submit thesis

by Graduate School deadline

Electronic submission to Graduate School

Total credits required

at completion

Minimum 30 credits, including a thesis of 6-10 credits (BIOL 899)

 

Possible Additional Year(s)

 

Formal committee meeting

once per semester

 

Presentation in UNH Graduate Research Conference or other public seminar on campus

one per year

Fulfilled by thesis defense in final year

Annual progress review by GPCC

spring semester (not required in final year)

Student and advisor reports submitted in advance; GPCC provides feedback

File intent to graduate form, submit thesis to Graduate School

by Graduate School deadlines

 

 

II. Ph.D. in BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (all options)

 

Requirement

Timing

Notes

 

Year One

 

Meet with advisor

at or before start of 1st semester

Initial curriculum and research planning

Responsible Conduct of Research training

first semester

https://www.unh.edu/research/rcr-training-unh

BIOL 901 (Intro Grad Seminar)

first fall semester

Core requirement

BIOL 903 (Grad Research Techniques – option-specific)

first spring semester

May be required in some options:

consult advisor or option rep

BIOL 811 or 933 or other graduate course approved by advisor & committee

1st year

Experimental design/analysis competency; prior graduate coursework may fulfill

Preliminary research proposal

end of 1st semester

Usually as part of BIOL 901

PhD Guidance committee formed

end of 1st semester

Submit form to Graduate School

Annual progress review by GPCC

spring semester

Student and advisor reports submitted in advance; GPCC provides feedback

First committee meeting

spring semester

Present & get feedback on research proposal and summer research plans

Seminar presentation

spring semester

Coordinate with committee meeting if possible

Teaching/mentoring experience

(may be any year)

As defined by committee

 

Year Two

 

Formal committee meeting

once per year

 

Ph.D. dissertation proposal

by end of 2nd year

Submit to advisor & committee

Presentation in UNH Graduate Research Conference, or other public seminar on campus 1

spring semester

Presentation of thesis research at a professional meeting may substitute2

Annual progress review by GPCC

spring semester

Student and advisor reports submitted in advance; GPCC provides feedback

 

Additional Years

 

Formal committee meeting

once per year

 

Annual progress review by GPCC

spring semester

Student and advisor reports submitted in advance; GPCC provides feedback

(not required in final year)

Presentation in UNH Graduate Research Conference

spring semester

Presentation of thesis research at a professional meeting may substitute

 

 

 

Qualifying exam (oral and written components)

by end of fifth semester

Condition for advancement to candidacy

advancement to candidacy

by end of fifth semester

Submit form to Graduate School

PhD Dissertation committee formed

upon advancement to candidacy

Submit form to Graduate School

Ph.D. defense: public seminar, oral exam by committee

in final year

replaces annual seminar presentation and progress review

File intent to graduate form, submit thesis to Graduate School

by Graduate School deadlines

 

 

1 Strongly recommend a formal, public (on campus) presentation of the research proposal; GRC may not be an appropriate venue at this stage.