Information for Current Students
Minor Proposition Examination
Nomination of Doctoral Thesis Committee
Changing Committee Membership
Advancement to Candidacy Examination
Thesis Defense Checklist
Spring Student Evaluation
Current Student Financial Information
Minor Proposition Examination
The Minor Proposition Exam should be completed by the end of the autumn quarter of the
second year. This examine involves NO laboratory work. The examination focuses on the student's ability
to identify an important open question in research unrelated to the student's thesis work, and to outline
a series of experiments required to answer the open question. A description of the background literature
that justifies the importance of both the question and the approach is essential. The student is expected
to demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of molecular biology. The student presents their proposal
orally by the end of the autumn quarter. Your committee chair will fill out an evaluation of your overall proposal, which will be signed by all members of your committee. You should download and bring the Minor Proposition Evaluation form to your proposal.
The class work throughout the first year is designed to ultimately allow the student to pursue
this goal in a semi-autonomous manner. Proposals are written using the same format used by post-doctoral fellows and principal investigators who are writing grants to the National Institutes of Health,
and therefore serves as outstanding experience for these future tasks that await virtually all students.
Nominating the Doctoral Thesis Committee.
The committee should be nominated at least THREE weeks before the Advancement to Candidacy Examination. The Doctoral Committee normally consists of five members, but can have additional members.
The student generally selects their own thesis committee with the assistance of their thesis advisor,
following the rules for composition of the thesis committee that are outlined below. Faculty position designations can be found at Faculty Academic Titles to help students identify the academic titles associated with faculty they consider as thesis committee members. A form
requesting approval of a specific composition of faculty for the thesis committee must be
signed by the Program Director and submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies through the program
office. The form is available here: Doctoral Committee Nomination Form. Once you have filled out the form, return it to the Graduate Program Coordinator and she will obtain signatures and submit it to the UCSD Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) for formal approval.
The basic committee should be composed
according to the following guidelines:
1. The committee will have a total of at least five members.
2. At least three of these must be Molecular Pathology Program Faculty (either UCSD academic senate
members, or Adjunct faculty at UCSD or The Burnham Institute (must have an appointment at UCSD). Eligible faculty must appear on the list of Faculty Academic Titles.) Please note the following faculty cannot be one of your five members but can be added as a sixth member if desired:
3. The committee will contain no more than two Adjunct Molecular Pathology faculty members and, if
the committee chair is an Adjunct faculty member, a Program faculty member with a UCSD Academic
Senate appointment must serve as a co-chair (this means that students located at the Burnham Institute
may have a second Burnham Institute member on their committee, but they must also have a UCSD co-
4. One member must be a tenured UCSD faculty member from outside the Molecular Pathology Program Faculty.
5. A fifth member can be a UCSD faculty member from outside the Molecular Pathology Program.
The basic, five member committee should be composed as follows:
1. Thesis Advisor as Chair
2. Molecular Pathology Faculty
3. Molecular Pathology Faculty
4. Non-Program UCSD faculty or other UC faculty (Outside member)
5. Tenured non-Program UCSD faculty (Outside tenured member)
Changing Committee Membership
A doctoral committee must be reconstituted if the student wishes to make any changes to the
membership after the initial nomination has been approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies. The request to
reconstitute the committee must be submitted in writing to the Dean. A committee would be
reconstituted for a variety of reasons including if the student wishes to add additional
members or if a member cannot fulfill their responsibilities (sabbatical, transfer, etc.) and must be
replaced. Contact the Graduate Program
Coordinator for examples of requests to reconstitute the doctoral committee.
Advancement to Candidacy
The Advancement to Candidacy Exam MUST BE completed by the end of the third year. The student's support will be terminated if they do not accomplish
their proposal within this timeframe. The full, five-member Thesis Committee must be nominated before
the student can Advance to Candidacy. All five members of the thesis committee should be present for
the exam. Prior to the meeting, the student submits to committee members a written report that
summarizes research accomplished thus far, and the proposed goals whose completion will comprise the
body of the Ph.D. thesis. A general timetable for the completion of thesis research should be included. Consult Writing My Advancement to Candidacy Proposal for a detailed description of how to construct your proposal, and to download an example.
This thesis proposal is then defended orally before the committee.
Once you have determined the date, time and place of your defense, contact the Graduate Program Coordinator. If
you have not determined a location, they will do that for you. The coordinator will post the thesis defense
announcement and send an e-mail announcement to all faculty and grad students in the Program. You must send an announcement to all of your committee members.
Approximately two to three weeks prior to your defense, you should contact
OGS to make a preliminary appointment to go over your thesis. The purpose of
this meeting is to review the format of your thesis. Any format changes must be made prior to final
submission. You can set up an appointment by calling (858)534-9012.
BEFORE your defense, please obtain the needed forms from your Program Coordinator.
Information needed for forms:
Exact name as you want it to appear on your diploma
Permanent address where the diploma can be sent. (It can take several months to get them mailed)
Current phone number(s) where you can be reached
Phone number where you can be reached after your defense
Title of your Defense
Date, time and location of your defense
Hold your Defense.
AFTER your defense, take your thesis, Final Report and Request for Diploma forms to Jenna Gilbert at the desk in OGS. You will be given final instructions before going to the library.
Submit the dissertation to the University Library/Archivist.
Spring Student Evaluation
Graduate Council policy requires that all doctoral and M.F.A. students be evaluated every Spring quarter. Evaluations are due to the Graduate Coordinator on May 20, 2011 . A satisfactory evaluation on file in OGSR is necessary for future support, registration, and consideration of exceptions (time limits, support, etc.).
Pre-candidacy students policy
The Graduate Council policy of January 11, 1974 regarding these evaluations is as follows:
"...this evaluation [is to] be made available to students who will sign it to indicate that they have read it, whether or not they agree with it;...a copy of this evaluation shall be sent to OGSR, to be made part of the students' permanent files. This evaluation will indicate: the degree to which students are, over-all, progressing satisfactorily in their studies; their strengths and weaknesses as students and, where applicable, as research assistants. These evaluations should contain cogent and clear advice to students."
The form for pre-candidacy students is available in excel format or pdf.
Policy for In-candidacy students policy
The evaluation should cover the student's progress to date, recommended modifications to the dissertation's scope or methodology, timetable for completion, and recommendation for support in the following year. The doctoral committee chair shall write up the evaluation and discuss them with the student. Two other members are to sign this evaluation to indicate their agreement.
The form for advanced students is available in excel format or pdf.
The following are exempt from spring evaluations:
1. Students who advanced to doctoral or M.F.A. candidacy during Winter or Spring 2011 (advancement paperwork must be on file with OGS to be eligible for this exemption).
2. Students on approved leaves of absence during Spring 2011.
(A student on leave during Spring quarter must have an evaluation completed by the end of the first quarter of return.