Degree Program Requirements

Download the Operations Manual & Rules for Graduate Study & Research In the Department of Biology below.

1. Structure and Operation of Advisory Committees:

The Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) makes recommendations to the College regarding the composition of Ph.D. advisory committees and monitors the composition of M.Sc. committees. After a student has been admitted to the College, the supervisor will establish an advisory committee according to the following principles:

  • The advisory committee for an M.Sc. student shall consist of the Head of the Department, who is normally chair of the committee, and at least two other faculty members from the Department. One or more members may be added from outside the Department.
  • The advisory committee of a Ph.D. student shall consist of the Head of the Department, who is normally chair of the committee, and at least four other persons. At least two of these must be faculty members from the Department and at least one must be a faculty member from another university department. 

2. Program Approval and Research Proposal:

A student's program (i.e. research topic, coursework, etc.) will normally be approved at the first meeting of the advisory committee. This should take place no later than 6 months after the student first registers. The student will normally prepare a research proposal for the first or second meeting of the advisory committee. 

3. Monitoring Student Progress:

All advisory committees must meet at least once every six months to review the student's progress. Students must submit a written progress report at a minimum of one meeting per year. The GSC reviews the operation of advisory committees by receiving minutes of advisory committee meetings, which are subsequently kept on file.

Normally, during the course of his or her graduate career, decisions regarding any aspect of a student's work will be made by the student and the advisory committee together; such decisions will be communicated via the GSC to the College. Any recommendation concerning a student made by an advisory committee, the GSC or the Department may ultimately be appealed by the student to the Dean of the College. 

4. Course requirements:

Detailed requirements for graduate programs are published in the University Calendar and on the College website ( Specific Department of Biology requirements are as follows:

M.Sc. Degree: For a fully qualified (non-probationary) candidate the minimum course requirement is 9 credit units of 800-level courses, selected to complete the student's graduate training. The courses should be in character for the student's field of specialization. There is a residency requirement of 24 months, or approval of advisory committee. Students must maintain continuous registration in the 990 and 994 courses.

Ph.D. Degree: A minimum of 9 credit units of 800-level courses, including any such courses taken at the M.Sc. level are required for students with recognized M.Sc. degrees in the same specialty. Students must maintain continuous registration in BIOL 990 and BIOL 996. Students must successfully complete qualifying and comprehensive examinations. There is a residency requirement of 36 months, or approval of advisory committee.

Academic standards: Students should obtain 70% in each course required specifically for their degree, and must obtain a cumulative weighted average of 70% for all their courses in this category.

Seminars: Biology 990 is a seminar course where each year graduate students present a research seminar and evaluate seminars given by their peers. All graduate students in the Department of Biology are required to give at least two  Biology 990 presentations. In addition to Biology 990 requirements, all Ph.D. students are required to present a seminar on their work in the regular departmental seminar series in their final year. Biology 990 also requires attendance at 75% or more of the seminars given in the Department's seminar series (link).