School of Life Sciences

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Graduate Degree Requirements

Master’s Degree Requirements

  1. Complete a minimum of 30 credit hours beyond the undergraduate degree. At least 18 of these hours must be completed at the 700-level.
  2. Students may request a maximum of 15 graduate credits taken at UNLV prior to admission into SoLS’s Graduate Program to be counted towards the 30 credit hour minimum graduation requirement, provided that those credits were not used to fulfill undergraduate requirements and that a minimum grade of “B” (3.00) was earned in each course.
  3. At least 50 percent of the total credits required to complete the Master’s degree must be earned at UNLV after admission into the Graduate Program.
  4. Students should register for at least nine (9) credits each semester if they are receiving financial support from SoLS; otherwise they must register for at least six (6) credits each semester. Students working on their thesis must register for at least three (3) credits each semester (excluding summer) until the Master’s Thesis is completed and given final approval.
  5. Students must confer with their Thesis Advisor prior to enrollment in their first semester. The Advisor will assist with designing an initial graduate degree program (i.e., an outline of the courses that the student will complete for the degree), engage in discussions about possible research directions, and introduce the student to the personnel and resources of the School of Life Sciences.
  6. Students must form an Advisory Committee before the department’s posted deadline. This Committee will be composed by the Thesis Advisor (who will serve as the Committee Chair), two members of SoLS’s Graduate Faculty, and a Graduate Faculty Representative from UNLV (but outside of SoLS). An additional committee member may be added at the student and department’s discretion. Please see Graduate College policy for committee appointment guidelines.
  7. Students must meet with their Advisory Committee at least once every year (i.e., from January to October), and a written report of this meeting must be submitted to SoLS’s Graduate Operations Committee by November 1.
  8. The Advisory Committee will review the student’s past academic background and, taking into consideration the student’s research interests, determine his/her definitive graduate degree program.
  9. Students must comply with the deadlines indicated in SoLS’s Graduate Student Handbook for submitting required paperwork to the Graduate College.
  10. A student will be placed on academic probation if a minimum 3.00 grade point average is not maintained in all work taken as part of the graduate degree program. A grade of “C+” or less in two graduate-level classes will cause a student to be placed on academic probation.
  11. The M.S. candidate will present a seminar on his/her thesis work that is open to all interested parties, including the general public. This public seminar will be widely advertised at least seven (7) days before it takes place, and will be followed by an oral defense of the thesis research before the Advisory Committee and any other Graduate Faculty member who wishes to attend.
  12. Students are expected to complete all the requirements for the Master’s degree in 2-3 years.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree Requirements

  1. Complete a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the undergraduate degree. At least 24 of these hours (excluding dissertation) must be completed at the 700-level.
  2. Dissertation credits may be repeated for credit as needed, but only 12 credits may be counted towards the 60 credit hour minimum graduation requirement.
  3. Students must complete the specific didactic course work required. See SoLS’s Graduate Student Handbook for specific requirements.
  4. Students may request a maximum of 15 graduate credits taken at UNLV prior to admission into SoLS’s Graduate Program to be counted towards the 30 credit hour minimum graduation requirement, provided that those credits were not used to fulfill undergraduate requirements and that a minimum grade of “B” (3.00) was earned in each course.
  5. Students should register for at least 9 credits each semester if they are receiving financial support from the School; otherwise they must register for at least 6 credits each semester. Students working on their dissertation must register for at least 3 credits each semester (excluding summer) until the Dissertation is completed and given final approval.
  6. Students must confer with their Dissertation Advisor prior to enrollment in their first semester. The Advisor will assist with designing an initial graduate degree program (i.e., an outline of the courses that the student will complete for the degree), engage in discussions about possible research directions, and introduce the student to the personnel and resources of the School of Life Sciences.
  7. The student must form an Advisory Committee before the department’s posted deadline. This Committee will be composed by the Dissertation Advisor (who will serve as the Committee Chair), two members of SoLS’s Graduate Faculty, and a Graduate Faculty Representative from UNLV (outside of SoLS). Students are encouraged to include a fifth Committee member who is an expert on the student’s field of research. This fifth Committee member can have an academic affiliation outside of UNLV. See SoLS’s Graduate Student Handbook for specific requirements. Please see Graduate College policy for committee appointment guidelines.
  8. Students must meet with their Advisory Committee at least once every year (i.e., from January to October), and a written report of this meeting must be submitted to SoLS’s Graduate Operations Committee by November 1.
  9. The Advisory Committee will review the student’s past academic background and, taking into consideration the student’s research interests, determine his/her definitive graduate degree program.
  10. Students must comply with the deadlines indicated in SoLS’s Graduate Student Handbook for submitting required paperwork to the Graduate College.
  11. Students must take the comprehensive examination before the beginning of their sixth semester of residency in the Graduate Program.
    1. The exam must be held at least three (3) weeks before the last day of instruction of any given term.
    2. The exam will include both a written and an oral component, and will assess whether the student has reached the appropriate level of knowledge and analytical skills necessary for his/her field of study.
    3. The examination is developed or administered by the Doctoral Advisory Committee or an ad hoc Committee composed of Graduate Faculty within the Section to which the student belongs.
    4. See SoLS’s Graduate Student Handbook for information on the possible outcomes of the exam. Students who fail to pass the exam within the specified timeline will be placed on academic probation and will be allowed one retake of the exam.
    5. Failure to pass the retake or meet the requirements of academic probation will result in separation.
  12. Doctoral students are advanced to candidacy after passing their comprehensive examination. Specific curricular requirements for each SoLS Section are described in detail in SoLS’s Graduate Student Handbook.
  13. Each doctoral student should teach for a minimum of two semesters in the undergraduate curriculum of the School of Life Sciences. During that time the student will receive a Graduate Teaching Assistantship.
  14. A student will be placed on academic probation if a minimum 3.00 grade point average is not maintained in all work taken as part of the graduate degree program. A grade of “C+” or less in two graduate-level classes will cause a student to be placed on academic probation. Failure to meet the requirements of academic probation will result in separation.
  15. The Ph.D. candidate will present a seminar on his/her dissertation work that is open to all interested parties, including the general public. This public seminar will be widely advertised at least seven (7) days before it takes place, and will be followed by an oral defense of the dissertation research before the Advisory Committee and any other Graduate Faculty member who wishes to attend.

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.