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Changing a Graduate Degree Program

Approved by the Graduate Education Committee: 2 November 2017

Graduate students in Biology degree programs can change degree programs, and may do so for a variety of reasons. Examples include, but are not limited to: changes in career interests that might cause a Ph.D. student to want to change to the D.A. program, or a M.S. student to wish to directly pursue a Ph.D. (which does not have as a prerequisite the M.S.), or shifts in circumstances that may cause a doctoral student to decide it would be better for them to pursue an M.S. degree. The goal of these procedures is to ensure that when students propose such a change, that the process a) is consistent with the requirements of the university’s graduate school and with the requirements for entry into the biology degree programs as they are applied to program applicants in general, b) results in fair, consistent and timely decisions, and c) contributes to maintenance of high standards of performance for biology graduate students and helps ensure student success.

Procedures and guidelines:

  1. If a student desires to change degree programs among the programs offered in Biology, they may follow the procedures described below. Any change of degree program that involve programs outside of Biological Sciences requires that students reapply through the graduate school.
  2. To initiate a change in degree program application, the student should have consulted with their advisor and advisory committee, then should submit a statement of intent and request outlining their motivation and justification to the departmental graduate committee, as well as a copy if their current graduate transcript. In addition, a statement from the faculty member who would serve as the student’s advisor(s) in their new degree program, and a letter from at least one other member of the biology graduate faculty in support (or not) of said request should be submitted. Finally, the student should fill out the “Change of Program Request” form (see attached) with their portion of the form completed.
  3. The departmental graduate committee will review the student’s original application file, along with the supplementary documents described above, and will arrive at a decision.
  4. The decision of the Department of Biological Sciences graduate committee will be forwarded as a recommendation to the Dean of the College of Science & Engineering and to the Graduate School. This recommendation will be accompanied by the “Change of Program Request” form signed by the Chair of the Biology Graduate program.
  5. A representative of the graduate school will inform the student, their advisor and the Biology Graduate program chair and responsible office staff member of the final decision. Note—the decision is not final until this step occurs. Advisors or members of the departmental graduate committee should not inform the student of any decision prior to this step. The final, signed form and response by graduate school should be included in the student’s file in the Department of Biological Sciences.