Students and faculty are urged to understand that the advisory system is their strongest ally in identifying and helping to resolve problems, in maintaining a realistic set of expectations for progress, and as a source of extra ideas and new approaches. Students should take the initiative in scheduling meetings. Timely meetings are imperative.

Students should recognize that their thesis advisor is usually their most important mentor, someone who can advise the student on research directions and may also provide career guidance. It is expected that thesis advisors provide opportunities for the student to develop independence, encourage the student to participate in collaborations, presentations, departmental seminars, introduce the student to colleagues, help the student to learn about writing and submitting manuscripts for publication, help the student to identify and work with their strengths and weaknesses and be committed to help the student make the next move in their career development. However, other faculty who take particular interest in the student’s growth and development as scientists may often also serve as important mentors. Students are encouraged to develop relationships with those faculty whom they feel can provide significant research, career, and personal guidance.

Formal progress reports must be filed twice annually with the Graduate School Office. To meet this requirement, students are expected to meet each semester with the full Advisory Committee. The student should review the Progress Form and correct/update as necessary. The Advisory Committee must use the last page of the Progress Form to evaluate the student’s progress, clearly identify strengths and weaknesses and indicate plans for development. All members of the Advisory Committee should then sign and date the Progress Form.

When a student fails to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress, the Advisory Committee or Program Director may mandate more frequent advisory committee meetings.

When a research mentor thinks his/her/their student is nearing a point of completion, the Advisory Committee should meet with the student and advisor to assess the student’s readiness to write a dissertation. This meeting should take place approximately 6 months before the anticipated dissertation defense. Students should update their list of publications and manuscripts in press on the Progress Report form before this meeting. At this meeting, the Advisory Committee will certify that the student is ready to write his/her/their dissertation and to schedule a defense date.

This approval should be granted and a date set only if the student has, at a minimum, achieved the following:

  • met all of the required program milestones,

  • completed all coursework and met the academic standards of the Graduate School,

  • demonstrated mastery of the literature, conceptual skills, analytical skills, writing and presentation skills, experimental skills, record keeping skills and work ethic meets doctoral-level standards

  • contributed intellectually as a lead author, or equivalent, to at least one manuscript, published, in review, or ready for submission in a peer-reviewed journal. An exception to this requirement will require the unanimous approval by the Advisory Committee.

When these criteria have been met, the student will be given a green light to enter the dissertation writing phase.

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