Doctoral Student Requirements

Doctoral Student Requirements
Doctoral Student Requirements


Required Courses
  • BIOS 809 Professionalism
  • BIOS 915A OR BIOS 915E Specialization Seminar Course (minimum of 6 credit hours)
  • Minimum of 90 semester hours of credit
  • At least 45 credit hours must be completed at UNL after filing the Ph.D. Program of Study Form
  • Includes 35-45 credit hours of graduate coursework (at least 27 credit hours at UNL to meet residency requirement) and 45-55 hours of dissertation research.
  • 6-12 credit hours may be transferred from a master’s degree previously awarded at another institution

Important Deadlines

  • Meet with Ph.D. Supervisory Committee - It is your responsibility to call meetings with your committee to discuss your academic progress, research progress, and your individual development plan
  • Make a presentation to the SBS Community - All students are required to present their work (either proposed, in progress, or completed) to the School of Biological Sciences community each year. Student presentations may be oral as part of one of the specialization seminars or as a poster at the annual Biology Graduate Students Association symposium. **Please see Specialization Requirements for additional requirements regarding presenting research**
1st day of fall semester, every year:
  • Submit Annual Progress Report - All students beyond their first semester in the program must submit an Annual Progress Report. This report summarizes the academic & research progress in a given academic year. Failure to submit the Annual Progress Report constitutes grounds for dismissal from the School of Biological Sciences Graduate Program.
Within the first week on campus:
By the last day of classes in the 1st academic year:
  • Submit Ph.D. Supervising Committee Form - A minimum of five committee members are required (at least two must be a School of Biological Sciences Graduate Faculty and at least one 'outside representative' must be affiliated to an unit other than your SBS specialization)
  • Submit Ph.D. Program of Studies Form - This includes all courses that must be completed before the degree is granted as well as any research tool (e.g. computer language or statistical expertise) required by the Supervisory Committee.
By the end of the third semester:
  • Complete Ph.D. Preliminary Evaluation - This evaluation is intended to assess your mastery of the fundamentals in your field and evaluate your potential to conduct doctoral level research. Format follows Specialization specific guidelines.
  • If your performance is deemed unsatisfactory, a second evaluation will be given within six months. A second unsatisfactory will be grounds for dismissal.
At the beginning of the 2nd academic year:
  • Complete Individual Development plan - All students are required to produce an IDP, which documents long- and short-term professional goals, strengths and talents, development opportunities and an action plan. Students are expected to update the IDP regularly and have an IDP meeting with their faculty advisor at least once a year. You can also find an Online IDP Tool here. Both the template and this tool are also available on the Graduate Studies IDP Resource page.
By the end of the sixth semester (or third year):
  • Complete Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination - This exam is administered by a minimum of four supervisory committee memebers and examines your breadth of knowledge and understanding as it pertains to your general research area.
  • The exam will consist of  a written NIH or NSF grant proposal turned in at least two weeks prior to the oral exam. The oral exam will cover focal areas identified a priori by the members of the Supervisory Committee and more specific questions relating to the written portion of the exam. (Format follows Specialization specific guidelines.)
  • If you fail, a second exam will be offered within six months. A second failure will be grounds for dismissal.
After passing Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination:
Within last semester:
  • Complete Oral Final Examination (dissertation defense) - You present a public talk describing your dissertation research, followed by a closed door examination by your Ph.D. Supervisory Committee
  • Submit Application for Advanced Degree in order to graduate (deadlines vary per semester)
As needed:
  • Submit Change in Ph.D. Supervisory Committee Form - Should the faculty advisor or other member remove themselves from the committee, submit a memo to the SBS Graduate Chair with the new committee make-up.
  • Submit Change in Ph.D. Program of Studies Memo - If a change needs to be made after the Ph.D. Program of Studies form is submitted, the faculty advisor must email the Office of Graduate Studies and the School of Biological Sciences Graduate Admissions Coordinator.

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