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Graduate Student Requirements

Graduate Student Handbook

Research Presentations


THE CORE COURSE: The Core Course is a common curriculum for all first-year students; it includes everything students need as a foundation for elective courses and thesis work. Needless to say, our faculty have put forth a great deal of effort determining the content and means of presentation in the Core Course. Students will be graded by individual faculty members teaching blocks of the Core Course. Adequate academic performance in a student's first year entails passing all sections of the Core Course; failure of a single section (grade below B) will be result in academic probation for the following semester, while failure of two or more core sections, or additional failure during the time a student is on academic probation may be grounds for dismissal from the Ph.D. program. Thus, students should take the Core Course very seriously, learn all they can in it, and seek help in any section in which they feel their understanding and possibly their grades may be inadequate.

BIOLOGY: In addition to G6001 and G6002, the Biology Core courses, two graduate biology seminar courses are required (not including Pre-Research Seminar or journal clubs). These courses generally must be at the G4000-level or above, and one may be in physics, chemistry or mathematics. One of the following W4000 level courses may be substituted for one of the G4000 level courses: W4037, W4600, W4510 or W4511. No more than one of these two elective courses may have a grade of "B-" and the average must be "B" or higher. A list of courses including those offered at the medical school can be found on the Web page:

A background of one year of college-level math covering calculus or statistics is required. Students who need to take an additional mathematics course are encouraged to take a course in statistics

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In fulfillment of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree, all students must gain teaching experience as part of their graduate training. "Teach" means to lead a laboratory section or assist in teaching a lecture course. Students are expected to start teaching in their second year and generally complete their teaching by the end of their 3rd year. A few students start later or delay some of their teaching, either to gain more experience and confidence, or to have the opportunity to help teach a course in their specialty. Students with sufficient experience and maturity are allowed to start teaching in the second term of the first year.

The duties of the Teaching Fellow vary, depending on the course. They generally include grading (exam papers, homework or lab reports), running discussion sections, holding office hrs (in person or by email), preparing course materials and (for laboratory leaders) supervising laboratory sections. Each graduate student is required to teach the equivalent of 8 units (= about 2 semesters). Ordinary assignments count for 4 units. Project labs, which involve heavier time commitment, count for 8 units; teaching the introductory lecture course, which involves a greater than average workload, counts for 6 units. Therefore the average graduate student teaches for 2 semesters. Students who enter with a master's degree (who have generally taught in their previous institution) are required to earn 8 units instead of 12.

1. A seminar is held every semester at the beginning of the term for all students who are doing their first teaching assignment. The department's Teaching Manual is distributed and many of the issues covered are raised. The major purpose of this session is to provide departmental support and encouragement to the student TA's. At the session itself we discuss various aspects of graduate student teaching and suggest some ways to improve teaching and learning (both for the benefit of the Teaching Fellows and the benefit of their undergraduate students). We also try to provide Teaching Fellows with resources for solving problems that may arise in the future (the manual, GSAS web site, whom to contact, etc.)

TA Manual - Useful advice for teaching assistants
How To Collection - Useful advice for grading, lecturing, reading the literature, giving oral reports & writing lab reports.
GSAS Teaching Resources

2. There are no other department wide sessions, but Teaching Fellows for the introductory lecture and lab classes (and most of the other classes that have required sessions led by Teaching Fellows) meet weekly with their instructors to discuss the material and ways to present it.

3. Teaching Fellows must demonstrate oral and written proficiency in English or pass the International Teaching Fellows Course offered by the American Language Program.

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Research Presentations

Third, fourth and fifth year students will present a 30-minute description of their research as a public seminar once each year, on the day of their annual advisory committee meeting. The advisory committee will meet with the student and sponsor following the seminar.
Annual Committee Meeting Form
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Once the dissertation is completed, the student will present a Departmental Seminar on the work, and this will be followed by an examination by a panel of five professors, three from the Department and two from other Departments.