School of Life Sciences

Graduate Degree Requirements

Master’s Degree Requirements

  1. Master’s students are required to complete a minimum of 30 credit hours. Eighteen of these hours must be at the 700 level. All students are expected to take BIO 701 (Ethics in Scientific Research) during their first year in residence. All students also must take at least three credits of BIO 796 (Graduate Seminar). Up to six credits of BIO 797 (Thesis) may be counted towards the 30 credit hour minimum. All students are required to have the equivalent of three credits of upper-division undergraduate course work in statistics.
  2. Diagnostic interviews are held for all new students in the week prior to the start of the fall semester. The Graduate Operations Committee meets with each student to review the courses they have taken and to determine if there are any courses that should be included in the student’s degree program. Students are expected to have basic knowledge in the following three areas: genetics or cell biology; physiology; and ecology, evolution, or systematics.
  3. An incoming master’s student will be appointed an interim advisor. The advisor will assist with designing a tentative curriculum, engage in discussions about possible research directions, assist with choosing a thesis advisor, and introduce the student to the personnel and resources available in the School of Life Sciences. A thesis advisor should be chosen by the second semester, and the Master’s Advisory/Examination Committee should be appointed prior to the end of the second semester. An approved graduate degree program should be filed prior to the start of the third semester after admission. Students may request a maximum of 15 graduate credits taken prior to admission to be included in the graduate degree program, providing those credits were not used to fulfill undergraduate requirements.
  4. A student will be placed on academic probation if a minimum 3.00 GPA is not maintained in all work taken in the degree program. A grade of C or less in two graduate-level classes will cause a student to be placed on academic probation and will illicit a critical review of the student’s degree program by the Graduate Operations Committee.
  5. Upon completion of required course work and the master’s thesis, the student must pass a final examination as provided for by Graduate College regulations. The exam will include a defense of the thesis and demonstration of a comprehensive understanding of biology. The student will present a departmental seminar that summarizes his or her thesis research.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree Requirements

  1. Specific degree requirements, including those listed below, are described in detail in the Graduate Student Handbook.
  2. Doctoral students are required to complete a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. Course selection will be based on the student’s academic record, the results of a diagnostic interview, and individual goals. For students entering the doctoral program with a master’s degree, at least 30 credit hours must be completed at UNLV. Of the credits required for completion of the program, at least 36 (18 for a student with an M.S. degree) must be in courses at the 700 level. All students are expected to take BIO 701 (Ethics in Scientific Research) during their first year in residency. All students must take at least six credits of BIO 796 (Graduate Seminar; the course may be repeated for a maximum of 10 credits). Up to 18 credits of BIO 799 (Dissertation) may be counted toward the 60 credit hour minimum graduation requirement.
  3. Diagnostic interviews are held for all new students in the week prior to the start of classes. The Graduate Operations Committee meets with each student to review the courses taken and to determine if there are any basic courses that should be included in the student’s degree program. Students are expected to have basic knowledge in the following five areas: genetics, cell biology, physiology, ecology, and evolution/systematics.
  4. An incoming Ph.D. student will be appointed an interim advisor. The interim advisor will assist with designing a tentative curriculum, engage in discussions about possible research directions, assist with choosing a dissertation advisor, and introduce the student to the personnel and resources available in the School of Life Sciences. A dissertation advisor should be chosen by the end of the second semester, and the Doctoral Advisory/Examination Committee should be appointed prior to the beginning of the third semester. An approved graduate degree program should be filed prior to the start of the third semester after admission. Students may request a maximum of 15 graduate credits taken prior to admission to be included in the graduate degree program, providing those credits were not used to fulfill undergraduate requirements. A maximum of 30 credits taken in another degree program (e.g., M.S.) may be requested for inclusion in the doctoral degree with approval.
  5. A student will be placed on academic probation if a minimum 3.00 GPA is not maintained in all work taken in the degree program. A grade of C or less in two graduate-level classes will cause a student to be placed on academic probation and will illicit a critical review of the student’s degree program by the Graduate Operations Committee.
  6. The student will take the qualifying or comprehensive examination by the end of the third year (second year for students entering with a master’s degree) after matriculation in the program. This exam will assess the familiarity of the student with his or her major field of study as designated by the Doctoral Advising Committee. The examination will consist of both written and oral components, its content having been determined by the members of the Doctoral Advising Committee. Students who fail to pass the qualifying examination on the first attempt must complete a second examination (again as specified by the Doctoral Advising Committee) within the next calendar year. Students who entered the program with a bachelor’s degree and who fail the second examination may be allowed to complete a Master of Science degree with the consent of the Graduate Operations Committee. Students who fail the examinations a second time and who entered the doctoral program with a Master of Science or other graduate degree will be separated from the program except under extraordinary circumstances. A student who has successfully passed the qualifying examinations and completed the formal course work, exclusive of BIO 799 (Dissertation), will be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.
  7. The Ph.D. candidate, having submitted to the Doctoral Advising Committee a dissertation draft (previously found acceptable by the dissertation advisor), will orally defend the dissertation before said committee and any other graduate faculty members who wish to attend. The candidate will also present a departmental seminar summarizing his or her dissertation research.

Additional Requirements

  • Statistics: Each doctoral student will complete at least one year (a minimum of six credits) of upper-division undergraduate or graduate course work in statistics appropriate to the natural sciences.
  • Instructional: Each doctoral student will spend at least the equivalent of one academic year as a teaching assistant in the undergraduate curriculum.
  • Other: Requirements for additional skills in foreign languages, computer programming, advanced mathematics, or advanced statistics will be determined by each student’s Doctoral Advising Committee.

The graduate college requires two years of full-time residency on the campuses of the university and community college system of Nevada. At least one continuous academic year (and usually the final year) of residence must be at UNLV.

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