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Guidelines - Diagnostic Assessment

New Biology graduate students are required to take a Diagnostic Assessment to assess the depth and breadth of their background in the life sciences and to help plan their initial Program of Study. The goal of these procedures is to ensure that Diagnostic Assessments are administered fairly and consistently, and result in a Program of Study that will successfully guide the student through their program and along their chosen career path.

Approved by the Graduate Education Committee: 4 October 2016
Revised: 12 September 2017

Procedures and guidelines:

  1. The Diagnostic Assessment must be completed in the student’s first semester as part of BIOL 6690. The BIOL 6690 grade will be listed as IP if a Diagnostic Assessment report is not submitted by the end of the semester.
  2. The Diagnostic Assessment will be conducted by a committee composed of the student’s advisor and 2-3 other biology faculty members who may be drawn from the student’s advisory committee (if one has been established) or appointed by the Chair of Graduate Programs. Diagnostic Assessment committee members should be able to address the breadth of disciplines the student is likely to encounter.
  3. Prior to the Diagnostic Assessment, the student will complete a Diagnostic Assessment Planning Worksheet.
  4. The Diagnostic Assessment discussion will revolve around the Planning Form, although the Diagnostic Assessment committee are free to explore other topics that are relevant to the students planned area of study and career path. The Diagnostic Assessment will also be used to evaluate the student’s oral communication skills.
  5. The Diagnostic Assessment will result in a Diagnostic Assessment Report  to be placed in the students department file.
  6. The Diagnostic Assessment will also be used in the preparation of the student’s Initial Program of Study. For MS students, the Initial Program of Study is typically completed during the student’s advisory committee meeting towards the end of the first semester (shortly after the Diagnostic Assessment). For PhD and DA students, the Initial Program of Study is typically completed at a committee meeting prior to fall registration in the student’s second (spring) semester.
  7. As the Program of Study is the basis for the graduate program, students will be re-evaluated based on the recommendations from the Diagnostic Assessment & Initial Program of Study. For doctoral (PhD and DA) students, this will be done as part of the Comprehensive Exam; for MS students, this will be done at the thesis defense.