Course Registration is subject to oversight and approval by the Graduate Program Director and the student's Ph.D. adviser (when applicable). Throughout their program students have access to graduate advisers as well as a series of advising committees, depending on where in their academic time-line they are.
There are several committees that shepherd a Ph.D. student through the Biology Graduate Program. While the committees have different names to reflect their different functions, there is usually a substantial continuum of faculty membership. The role of the committees in each year are described below.
Candidacy Examination Committee
Committees are used to advise and guide a graduate student's progress through the program. During the second year a Ph.D Candidacy Examination Committee made up of three faculty, two chosen by the Department, one by the student, administers the candidacy examination.
Thesis Advisory Committee
The Thesis Advisory Committee consists of three or more faculty members (the student's PI and at least two other faculty members) who advise each student during their third year in conducting her/his thesis research. The chair of the committee will be selected at the first meeting and is someone other than the student's direct PI. Students must have their first meeting before the end of the academic third year, as well as annual meetings until their defense.
Ph.D. Defense Committee
In years four and five the Ph.D. Defense Committee is composed of five faculty, the Thesis Advisory Committee plus two more internal or external faculty members, before whom the Ph.D. candidate must defend her/his thesis in public and private sessions. The student's Thesis Adviser will serve as the Chair of the Committee.