By the end of the first semester, the student and advisor should identify and invite a minimum of two additional faculty to serve on a thesis supervisory committee.  A minimum of two members of the committee, including the advisor, must be Faculty members in the Biology Department at CSU Stanislaus.  Prior to the end of the second semester, the student should submit a thesis proposal to the committee for review and approval.  Once the committee has agreed on a date and time, a proposal defense can be held.

The student provides a brief description of the research in a closed forum to the committee.  The committee is free to ask any questions regarding the proposal and give feedback/suggestions to the student.  The student should either agree to incorporate changes or successfully defend the proposal as it is by making a convincing argument.  A final draft of the proposal that includes any agreed-upon changes should then be provided to the committee within two weeks after the defense.  Once the proposal is finalized and approved by all committee members, the student must schedule a time for a one-hour qualifying exam to be administered orally within the following three weeks.

The oral exam will be administered by the committee in a one hour closed session.  Each member will have 15 minutes to directly ask exam questions.  Following direct questioning, there will be an additional 15 minute free form session for any needed follow up.  Examiner questions should be drawn from these areas:

  • Philosophy of science, history of science and scientific method
  • Basic principles Physics, Chemistry, and Biochemistry if applicable.
  • Basic Mathematics and/or Statistics as applicable
  • Core Biology principles such as Evolution, Cell/Mol and Genetics, Ecology and structure/function.

After the examination period, the student will be asked to leave the room while the committee discusses their performance.  The goal is for the student to display a basic competence in the areas above, but also be allowed to find the current limits to their knowledge base.  The student will be given one of four outcomes:

  • Pass-immediate advancement to candidacy.
  • Conditional Pass-advancement to candidacy with the agreement between committee and student that the student needs additional coursework in a specific area of weakness.
  • Re-test Required:  The student performed at a level requiring additional coursework as outlined by the committee. The student will also be required to take the exam again to pass to candidacy (only one re-test will be given).
  • Fail, student will be suspended from the program.

A detailed description of the students’ performance and the justification of the committee’s decision will be prepared by the student’s advisor, and this report will be kept on file by the program director.

Updated: July 13, 2023