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Graduate Program Policies

Last updated: September 2019

Grade Policy:  Grades in required and elective courses must be B- or better.  A student who receives 1) a grade lower than B- (and/or a “fail” in a pass/fail course) in three required courses, or 2) a grade lower than C- in any required course is subject to dismissal from the Program. Each such instance is reviewed by the Graduate Program Steering Committee and acted upon on a case-by-case basis, taking all aspects of the student's performance (coursework and laboratory research) into account.  Required courses may not be audited or dropped because of academic difficulties.  In most scenarios, if a student receives a grade lower than a B- in a required course, the class must be repeated, and a grade of B- or better must be achieved. In the case of a grade below B- in an elective course, the student has the option of retaking the course to achieve a satisfactory grade or of taking another elective course and achieving a grade of B- or better. An “Incomplete” in any course must be resolved within 1 month. The student may be placed on academic probation if he/she fails to resolve an Incomplete within this period.

Vacation Policy:  In addition to posted university holidays, a maximum of two weeks (10 days) of vacation are allowed during the first year and three weeks (15 business days) during subsequent years. Additional vacation or personal leave time must be approved by a student's faculty preceptor or the Program Director.  Trainees shall continue to receive stipends during vacations and holidays. Time between semesters or academic quarters is considered an active part of the training period, including the summer months. However, students may choose to take their vacations during these time periods. Vacation or personal leave time exceeding those listed above without the prior approval of the faculty preceptor or Program Director may be cause for concern. In most cases, this will lead to poor performance in courses and is a valid reason for a student to receive a research grade of “C”. Cases in which students are repeatedly absent or absent for extended periods of time from work without approval will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the Steering Committee.

Sick Leave Policy:  Sick leave should not exceed 15 calendar days per year. Unused days may not be carried over into the following 12-month period and are not payable upon departure. Sick leave may not be subtracted from any paid leave earned through the policy above. At its discretion, the Department, Program or faculty preceptor may require the student to submit verification of the need for sick leave from their healthcare provider to the University Health Service Center for review. Any documents containing a student’s medical information must be kept separate from his/her academic file. Extended absences (more than 14 business days) must be reported by the student and/or faculty preceptor to the Academic Program Administrator as quickly as possible. If the illness requires an extended absence, the student may apply for a leave of absence (LOA), as described in “Procedures for the Award of the Doctor of Philosophy Degree”. Students are also subject to the School of Medicine Involuntary Leave of Absence Policy.

Leave of Absence:  Students may request a Leave of Absence (LOA) for a medical condition, military duty, personal hardship or to pursue an internship. Time spent on a LOA is not counted toward the time to degree. Students seeking to take a LOA must apply according to the procedures described in “Procedures for the Award of the Doctor of Philosophy Degree”.

Parental/New Child Accommodations for Graduate Students:  All eligible full-time graduate students and postdoctoral trainees will receive an eight-week accommodation to care for a new child, with no loss in tuition benefits, stipend support, or benefits from a training grant, fellowship, or scholarship. See the full policy here. The Program Director must be notified if a student plans to use parental leave.

Outside Employment:  Outside employment is strongly discouraged since a student's full efforts should be devoted to graduate research and education. In certain hardship situations, students may work for compensation outside the lab on a strictly limited, part-time basis.  This work must be apart from or beyond the normal research training activities, which typically require a much more than 40 hours per week.  Under no circumstances may outside employment interfere with, detract from, or prolong the student’s training program.  Permission to work outside the graduate program must be obtained beforehand from both the program director and the faculty mentor.

Research Progress Oversight:  The progress of biomedical research is often unpredictable. Therefore, the time it takes each student to complete the doctoral degree will vary.  Each student’s research progress will be evaluated by the student’s preceptor on a day-to-day basis, and by their Thesis Advisory Committee on an annual or semi-annual basis.  The program expects most students to complete their degree within 6 years of entering the program.  At the end of their fifth full year in the program, and every year thereafter, the Director will request from each student a one-page list of doctoral research Specific Aims and progress on each aim (completed, near completion, in process, initiated, or planned), as well as a projected timetable for their completion, to be countersigned by the student’s preceptor and members of their Thesis Advisory Committee.

To view detailed policies, please click here:

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