Students who wish to gain admission to the Ph.D. program in the Department of Molecular Genetics after defending their M.Sc. thesis can be divided into:
a. Those who intend to continue within the same laboratory and continue the same (or similar) project;
b. Those who wish to continue within the same laboratory, but pursue a different project (i.e. study a different subject matter, employ a different model system, and/or use an entirely different approach);
c. Those who intend to join a different laboratory within the Department.
The Ph.D. Qualifying Exam will only be waived for the first class of students (i.e., ‘a’ above) who also:
- Successfully defend their M.Sc. with a special “Future Directions” section associated with both the written thesis and the oral exam; AND
- Have a letter from the Chair of the exam attesting to the student’s outstanding performance.
Note that the M.Sc. examining committee does not make admission decisions. The committee can only recommend, in a letter to the Graduate Coordinator, whether the requirement of the qualification exam should be waived if the student joins the Ph.D. program. In cases where the student has completed an M.Sc., applied to our Ph.D. program, but has not distinguished him/herself over the course of their M.Sc., the Admissions Committee will consult with the Chair of the exam committee to determine whether their performance during the defence should have an impact on the Admissions Committee’s decision.
It is important to note that students who rejoin the Department to complete a Ph.D. are held to the same standards as other Ph.D. students. All Ph.D. students are expected to have two complete and original data chapters in their Ph.D. thesis. Results reported in the M.Sc. thesis cannot be re-published as part of the results section of a data chapter within a Ph.D. thesis. They may, instead, be referred to in the introduction or discussion sections of any chapter along with proper citations.
Students who wish to defend their M.Sc. with the intent of applying to our Ph.D. Program in the same laboratory (and continue the same/similar project) in which they did their M.Sc. must:
- Inform the Examining Committee Members at least three weeks before the date of the M.Sc. oral exam that he/she wishes to be considered admitted to the Ph.D. program.
- Include a “Future Directions” section at the end of the M.Sc. thesis that describes the proposed Ph.D. project. This section should be a maximum of 6 double-spaced (23 lines/page, 12 point font, 2 cm margins) pages and may include additional figures and/or tables. This section should be similar to parts 3 and 4 of the reclassification proposal as follows:
- Rationale - 1 page: What key question(s) is/are going to be addressed? Why address this question using this particular experimental system? What is the hypothesis or hypotheses to be tested?
- Specific aims - 4-5 pages: Describe the specific experiments that will be carried out during the Ph.D. studies. The purpose of the experiments with respect to the general rationale should be made clear. Possible pitfalls in experiments should be pointed out and alternative approaches should be suggested. Generally two to three distinct aims should be described. Possible outcomes of the experiments, and how the student will proceed given these outcomes, should be discussed. The student should convince the committee that experiments are feasible and will produce relevant and significant data.
Students are expected to answer the same types of questions that would be asked at a reclassification exam, whether they are planning to continue the same project or not.
Note: The caliber of performance required for acceptance into the Ph.D. program are significantly higher than for a terminal M.Sc. degree. Students may successfully pass the M.Sc. oral exam, but not be admitted to the Ph.D. program.
Students who wish to defend their M.Sc. with the intent of applying to our Ph.D. Program and joining a different laboratory in which they did their M.Sc. (or remain in the same lab, but pursue a different project):
- Do not have the option of writing a “Future Directions” as part of their M.Sc. thesis solely for the purposes of waiving the Qualifying exam.
- Upon fulfilling all requirements for a M.Sc., the student must submit an online SGS application for the Ph.D. program in our Department. The Graduate Coordinator in consultation with the Chair of the Admissions Committee will promptly review the student’s application. M.Sc. students are held to a higher standard than B.Sc. students and it is often the case that we will not admit students with a M.Sc. into our Ph.D. program. However, if the application is approved, the student will be enrolled into the Ph.D. program at the beginning of the following term. Given that the student would be enrolled in the M.Sc. program until the end of term, the student will remain an officially enrolled student throughout the transition.
Students who rejoin our Department and stay in the same lab should not do rotations. Students who plan to join a different lab can rotate in up to three labs upon joining the Ph.D. program. At the discretion of the Graduate Coordinator, the student may have the option of forgoing rotations if they have significant experience in the lab in which they want to join.
In almost all cases, a student who successfully defends their M.Sc. and transfers to a different lab as a Ph.D. student will be required to undergo the Ph.D. Qualification Exam. This compels students to become knowledgeable in their new field. However, students who have performed at an excellent-to-outstanding level in the M.Sc. program may have the requirement for a qualification exam waived at the conclusion of the M.Sc. defence. For this to occur, the student must meet with the graduate coordinator ~6 weeks prior to the exam and discuss why they should not have a Ph.D. Qualification Exam. In the rare case that the graduate coordinator concurs, s/he will notify the M.Sc. examining committee to hold the student to a higher standard. The Chair of the oral exam must indicate whether the student is exceptional and should be granted a waiver of the Ph.D. Qualification Exam.
It is important to note that work done in partial fulfillment of the M.Sc. degree cannot be used in partial fulfillment of the Ph.D. degree.