Program Requirements



Degree requirements for the M.S. and Ph.D. programs follow those established for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) as outlined in the UNTHSC Catalog .  Program specific guidance is provided below to assist you in navigating through the Program in Genetics.


Student Advisory Committee

     Following admission into the Genetics Program, the student should consult with their mentor and the Graduate Advisor on the selection of their Advisory Committee members. Doctoral students typically have four members on their committee in addition to a GSBS-assigned University Member. Masters students typically have three faculty members in addition to a GSBS-assigned University Member on their Advisory Committee. Committee members should be selected, in consultation with the mentor, that can best provide constructive input to the student’s research and career goals. For either MS or PhD students, additional committee members adding specific expertise to the student’s training may be added with a temporary GSBS appointment to the student committee.  The committee guides the student in selecting course work appropriate for the degree program, defines research goals, monitors research progress, approves the research proposal, and provides scientific guidance. Before the completion of the second semester of study, a degree plan listing all courses should be completed by the student, approved by the student’s Advisory Committee, Graduate Program Advisor, and Dean. Each student is required to meet with his/her advisory committee at least once per academic year. This meeting is typically held in the Summer semester in conjunction with the student’s enrollment in Scientific Communications Competencies (BMSC 6100).


Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy

     Doctoral students must complete the following two-part process to be advanced to candidacy. First, a program-based qualifying examination, designed and administered by the Program’s graduate faculty, must be successfully completed. Second, the student must submit and defend their research proposal to their advisory committee. When successfully completed, the student is advanced to candidacy and must enroll in Doctoral Dissertation (BMSC 6395) in the first long semester immediately following approval of the research proposal and maintain continuous enrollment in this course until dissertation is defended and approved. Following advancement to candidacy doctoral student’s course load is reduced to 9 Semester Credit Hours (SCH).

Qualifying Examination 

     The qualifying examination within the Program in Genetics must be successfully completed at the end of the 1st year during the summer or in the early Fall semester of the 2nd year. The qualifying examination must be completed prior to completing 42 SCH of coursework. The qualifying examination ensures that a doctoral student has sufficient mastery of fundamental principles in the biomedical sciences and genetics to be successful as a Ph.D. candidate and subsequently, as an independent researcher. Topics included in the oral qualifying examination consist of fundamental understanding of biomedical sciences, genetics, experimental design, statistics and research techniques and is based on relevant topics from the GSBS core courses and the Program’s required advanced courses. The student is permitted two attempts to pass the qualifying examination. Failure to pass the qualifying examination after two attempts will result in dismissal from the PhD program.


     The qualifying exam will consist of an oral exam administered by the student’s advisory committee. The GSBS-appointed University Member to the student’s advisory committee must be in attendance for the oral examination. The student’s mentor does not serve on the testing committee or is present during the oral qualifying examination. Through discussions with their committee members, students are provided the general categories of topics to expect on the exam.  The Graduate Advisor will serve as the examination coordinator and aid the student in scheduling the examination. The oral examination typically is scheduled for a two-hour period. The qualifying examination will be graded on a Pass/Fail basis, following the Scoring Rubric implemented by the GSBS. Following completion of the oral qualifying examination the Graduate Program Advisor will submit the signed Oral Qualifying Examination Notice to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Office of Admission and Services (GSBS OAS).

Research Proposal

     Following the successful completion of the qualifying examination, the student should meet with their Advisory Committee to establish a tentative timeline for their development of their research proposal and establish a tentative date for their proposal defense. All doctoral students must submit a dissertation research proposal no later than the end of the third year of study. The research proposal is an outline of the dissertation project. It must include a summary of the proposed project, the hypotheses to be investigated, Specific Aims of the project, significance of the project, research design and methodology to be used, and a thorough review of the salient literature that supports or opposes the hypothesis and potential limitations. Students should refer to the GSBS Research Proposal Guidelines in the preparation of their document. The written proposal must be supplied to the Advisory Committee two weeks prior to the scheduled proposal defense date for review. The student must prepare an oral presentation outlining their project and Specific Aims in sufficient detail for the Advisory Committee to assess the scientific merit of the project. The research proposal must be approved by the Advisory Committee and the Dean prior to registering for Doctoral Dissertation (BMSC 6395). Following the approval of the research proposal, the doctoral candidate is required to enroll for dissertation credit and must maintain continuous enrollment in Doctoral Dissertation (BMSC 6395) until the dissertation has been completed.


Please refer to the GSBS requirements and Genetics Program Handbook 2017-2018 for additional information and meet with the Graduate Program Advisor for guidance on submission deadlines for documents and establishing committee meetings.

This page was last modified on December 12, 2017