Graduate Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How many people need to be on my committee?

A student’s committee will normally be made up of his/her Mentor (the Committee Chair) and 2 other graduate faculty in fields related to the student’s thesis. The minimum number of Committee members is three; there is no maximum number. The form "Appointment of Graduate Faculty to a Dissertation or Thesis Committeecan be used to establish your advisory committee.

Do I have to teach?

Yes. All biology graduate students must teach at least two lab sections at some time during their tenure regardless of the availability of funds.

Is there funding available? Can I get a Research or Teaching Assistantship (RA or TA)?

There are a limited number of Teaching Assistantships available through the department. There are not enough TAs to fund all of the graduate students. Research Assistantships are typically provided by your mentor/committee Chair.

What rooms will I have access to?

Graduate students typically have access to his/her Mentor’s lab space and to the rooms in which they teach. Access to any rooms needs to be cleared by the student’s Mentor.

Where do I get keys to the rooms that I need to access?

You will need to arrange getting keys with your Mentor.

How do I get permission to use the boat/van? What are the rules regarding boat/van use?

You will first need to apply for permission. You will need a valid driver's license and good driving record.  Please see the Biology Office Manager for more information, BLY 124, or call 460-6331.

What if I need to take a leave of absence?

A leave of absence is granted only for nonacademic extenuating circumstances such as a family emergency. You will need to make a formal request in writing to your Mentor and Committee. A formal request will be waived in cases of accident or severe illness. After a leave of absence, you may need to apply for readmission to the program.

What are the comprehensive exams and when do I need to take them?

The comprehensive exam consists of the student’s prospectus presentation followed by questions from the committee (This should occur by the end of the third semester - see Timeline).

Do I have to give a seminar or talk?

All graduate students are expected to act as professional scientists. Therefore, all thesis graduate students must have submitted a paper for publication or presented a talk at a professional meeting before he/she graduates.

Do I have to attend departmental seminars?

Yes, they are for your benefit.

What specialized equipment and facilities can I use?

Various equipment and facilities such as specialty microscopes, freezers, hoods, herbaria, greenhouses, growth chambers, etc. are available in the department. Many of these are under the care of certain faculty members and will be made available to students with proper training and instruction. Please discuss this issue with your graduate advisor and the relevant faculty member.

Is there a BLY Graduate Student Organization?

Yes, and is it important for you to join and become involved. The Biology Graduate Student Organization is a primary source of recent information. Please see the office staff for the name of the current president.