Temporary Committee Meeting/Prescription Letter
Prior to the beginning of classes during your first Autumn Quarter, you will meet with your temporary advisor and the Graduate Program Committee to review your transcripts. Together you will select classes to take or TA to help round out your experience in all aspects of Biology, and the committee will summarize this in a prescription letter.
Due to our program’s focus on your research, there are very few required classes outside of those in your prescription letter.
BIOL 500: Graduate & Professional Life; taken during Autumn Quarter of your first year
BIOL 520: Departmental Seminar; taken each quarter you are on the Seattle Campus
To assist in your professional development, the following courses are highly recommended:
BIOL 502: Grant Writing; taken during Autumn Quarter of your first or second year
BIOL 505: Problems in Biological Instruction
By the beginning of your 2nd year in residence (Autumn Quarter of your second year), you should submit the paperwork to officially form your Supervisory Committee. Supervisory Committees consist of:
Chair: Your main advisor whose lab you work in. Provides the bulk of support and mentorship throughout your research.Graduate School Representative: A graduate faculty member from a department outside of Biology. Ideally, he or she will have some interest in or knowledge of your research, though this is not required. Your Chair can help you network with appropriate faculty outside of the department to select this member of your committee.
Members: Each committee must have at least two additional members on their committee who are Biology faculty members. Additional members (Biology faculty or other faculty) may be added at your discretion.
When you are ready to form your Committee, complete the Committee Formation form and submit it to the Graduate Program Manager.
Annual Committee Meetings
Each year, you must convene a meeting with your committee. This meeting serves two purposes: to inform your committee on updates to your research and scholarship, and to allow your committee to guide your further work.
There are two forms to submit to the Graduate Program Manager and your committee, found under "Committee Forms" on the Admin Gateway page.
Note: Your annual committee meeting should not be the only time you are engaging with your faculty throughout the year! To help keep yourself on track, actively work to seek their advice and input regularly throughout the year.
During your second year in residence, you will prepare for your General Exam. By this point, you will have selected an advisor and lab to work in for the duration of your program, as well as your Supervisory Committee. You must complete all requirements in your prescription letter prior to taking your General Exam. Your general exam typically consists of a brief presentation of a research proposal for your thesis, followed by an oral examination covering both your proposal in particular and your biological knowledge in general.
Successful completion of the General Exam passes you to PhD Candidacy.
To give you a grounding in teaching the biological sciences, you are required to hold at least two Teaching Assistant (TA) appointments (one quarter per appointment). You may request to serve as a TA for any course in which you feel qualified. The Faculty Coordinator of Biology Instruction will assign TAships based on requests and departmental needs.
For new TAs, we recommend teaching one of our Biology Introductory Series classes (BIOL 180, 200, and 220) for your first quarter. By serving as a TA for one of these classes, you will be teaching with a group of both new and experienced TAs to provide you with a strong peer support network. Additionally, the instructors of these classes have carefully designed a comprehensive assessment process for TAs to help enhance your teaching skills.
Presenting & Publishing
After the successful completion of your General Exam, your efforts will focus almost entirely on your research. The department strongly encourages you to present and publish various chapters of your dissertation throughout the remainder of your career as a PhD candidate. Publishing papers and presenting will accomplish many things, including:
- Keep you on track with writing your dissertation chapters
- Hone your response to critical feedback about your research
- Keep you communicating with your advisor/committee throughout the year
- Help you network beyond the UW
While there is no presenting or publishing requirement to obtain a PhD, it is recommended that you publish at least two articles in peer-reviewed journals, and present research at least once.
Appointing a Reading Committee
Approximately three months prior to your Final Exam, discuss with your Advisor/Committee who will be on your Reading Committee. The reading committee must consist of at least three faculty on your Supervisory Committee. Submit these names to the Graduate Program Manger.
At least six weeks prior to your final exam, present your reading committee with a copy of your dissertation for editing and comments.
Students typically require approximately 5 years of study and research before they are ready for their final exam. During your final exam, you will publicly present your research before your Supervisory Committee, members of the department, and other interested parties. Your public presentation will then be followed by a private question session with your Supervisory Committee.