Policies and Guidelines – M.S.
for MS Students who entered the MMG program in 2010 or earlier. All other M.S. students should refer to the “Guidelines for CMB Graduate Students”, which will be available soon on the CMB web site
|I.||Admission||V.||Computer Language Requirement|
|II.||Required Coursework||VI.||Vacation Policy|
|III.||Studies Committee, Qual. Exam||VII.||Dismissal and Grievance Procedures|
|IV.||Research||VIII.||Review of Student Performance|
Normally, MMG does not admit students directly into the M.S. program. However, in certain cases (e.g., University of Vermont undergraduate students admitted into the Accelerated Master’s Program, or Ph.D. candidates who are not admitted to candidacy) MMG may award the M.S. degree. In these cases, the following guidelines/policies apply.
Prerequisites for the M.S. program require that the candidate have a baccalaureate degree prior to the date of first enrollment; Biology, one yr; Chemistry: one yr of inorganic Chemistry, one yr of organic chemistry; Physics, one yr; Mathematics through Calculus; and satisfactory scores on the general aptitude portion of the Graduate Record Examination. Subject GRE tests are recommended but not mandatory. Students who have not taken all of the prerequisite courses as undergraduates but have a good academic record may be admitted to the program and required to make up any deficiencies early in the program.
M.S. students will take six credits of Biochemistry (ordinarily BIOCH 301, 302 for Ph.D. candidates and Med Bioch. 305 & 306 for M.D.-Ph.D. candidates), and six credits of Genetics (generally MMG 211 [Prokaryotic Molecular Genetics] & MMG 312 [Eukaryotic Molecular Genetics]). They also will take six credits of Microbiology, to include at least three credits in MMG 223 (Immunology), MMG 225 (Virology), or MMG 302 (Medical Micro), and at least three credits in a graduate level, literature-based microbiology course (typically MMG 320 [Cellular Microbiology]).
EXCEPTIONS. Students who have taken equivalent courses prior to beginning graduate work in MMG may petition the Chair of the Student Affairs Committee for an exemption. The Graduate College will accept up to 24 transfer course credits from other accredited graduate programs or institutions. However, it is up to the MMG Student Affairs Committee (in consultation with faculty who teach the relevant course) to determine if the student’s previous coursework has covered substantially similar topics with similar rigor.
GRADE EXPECTATIONS. Students must earn a grade of B or better in each of the core courses. They must also maintain an overall B average, as required by the Graduate College. Failure to meet either of these requirements may be grounds for dismissal from the Program.
OTHER COURSE REQUIREMENTS. Overall, M.S. students must enroll for 30 credits, including 24 credits in approved courses (at least 16 of which must be MMG courses and 2 of which must be in seminar format courses) and 6 must be research credits (MMG 391).
A. Studies committee
Once a student has been accepted into the program, s/he should identify a PI with whom they wish to work. There is insufficient time to do laboratory rotations in the M.S. program.
Once a thesis supervisor has been selected, a Studies Committee will be formed. This committee will guide the student through the program. The Studies Committee will help the student plan appropriate course work and research, and periodically review the student’s progress. The Studies Committee will be chaired by the thesis supervisor.
- The members of the Studies Committee will be chosen by the thesis advisor in consultation with the student and Department Chair.
- The Studies Committee will consist of at least three members: two from the Department and one from another department.
- The Studies Committee will meet at least once each year, usually following presentation of the student’s research seminar. It will be the student’s responsibility to notify the members of the Studies Committee to attend the seminar.
B. Qualifying exam
M.S. candidates will write either an extensive literature review or research proposal that pertains to their research interests. Students can expect some guidance from their advisor and Studies Committee in the writing of the proposal, but must assume responsibility for the final version and must acquire sufficient mastery of their chosen subject area to defend the proposal. Students will present their written proposal to their Studies Committee. That Committee will determine if the written proposal is satisfactory and, if it is, schedule an oral defense. During the oral defense, the Committee shall be free to explore the knowledge of the student on a range of subjects related to the proposal, much as occurs during a thesis defense. If the written review/proposal is deemed unsatisfactory or if a student fails the oral defense, the candidate will be given one opportunity to rewrite or re-defend his/her proposal. If the student fails a second time, s/he will be dismissed from the M.S. program.
EXEMPTIONS. At the discretion of the Graduate Education Committee, students who fail twice the Ph.D. qualifying exam but perform at a level commensurate with the requirements of the M.S. program may be permitted to transfer into the M.S. program. In these cases the student shall be exempted from the normal M.S. qualifying exam described above.
A thesis which demonstrates the candidate’s capability for independent research must be prepared and submitted in compliance with the detailed instruction sheet which is obtained in the Office of the Graduate College.
- A copy of the current instruction sheet, issued once each semester, can usually be obtained from your thesis supervisor or the department chairperson.
- The Thesis Defense Examination Committee will be appointed by the Dean of the Graduate College upon recommendation of the candidate’s supervisor and will consist of three members: two from Department and one from another department. The representative from the outside field will be designated as the Chairperson by the Dean of the Graduate College.
- Oral Examination in defense of the Thesis. One re-examination only is permitted.
Each student is encouraged to read the Graduate College Bulletin and is responsible for obtaining a copy of the current “Guidelines for Thesis Writing” which may be obtained from the Office of the Dean of the Graduate College. This document outlines the current deadlines for prospective graduates. (The department chairperson will usually have copies of the Guidelines and a current list of deadlines).
Candidates for the M.S. degree must remain on campus until completing all degree requirements, including successful defense of the thesis.
The Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (MMG) requires that graduate students demonstrate proficiency in computer skills. Computer skills are divided into three types (I-III below), each of which is subdivided into categories. Category (A) skills are considered essential for scientific work in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and all departmental graduate students must demonstrate proficiency in these skills. Category (B) skills are in some cases more advanced skills and in other cases skills that would be helpful to know. Departmental graduate students must demonstrate proficiency in all category A skills, and a total of three skills in category B (e.g. IB1, IIB1 and IIIB1).
I. Document preparation
A. Required Skills
- Word processing
- Graphics: Representation of 1D/2D data (e.g. pie charts, histograms, graphs), scientific illustration.
B. Additional/advanced skills
- Slide making
- Web publishing
II. Information access/management
A. Required Skills
- Familiarity with a computerized literature database
- Ability to find information on the web
- Familiarity with a scientific database
B. Additional/advanced skills
- Spreadsheet use
- Maintaining large amounts of scientific data using computer
- Maintaining a bibliographic database using a computer
III. Scientific methods
A. Required Skills
- Sequence analysis
B. Additional/advanced skills
- Use of a programming language to code an algorithm for analyzing or manipulating data
- 3D visualization/modeling
- Image analysis
ASSESSING PROFICIENCY. A student can meet the above requirements either by taking and earning an A in the computer application course CDAE 85 or by passing a test administered either by the students advisor or the director of the Molecular Modeling Facility (MMF). In the latter case, the advisor or MMF director will then submit a letter to the Chair of MMG, to be included in the student’s file, stating that the student has demonstrated proficiency, and stating the areas of proficiency. In either case, the student should enroll in GRAD 485 so that a grade (S or U) can be reported to the Graduate College.
Graduate students in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics ordinarily have a twelve-month appointment. They are entitled to the stated University of Vermont Administrative holidays plus 10 days of vacation per year, with additional time to be approved by the mentor and/or the student’s Studies Committee. Unused vacation days may not be carried over into subsequent years, nor do graduate students accrue compensatory time off. Students are expected to discuss their vacation plans in advance with their mentor.
In accordance with the guidelines of the Graduate College students may be dismissed from the program if more than two grades below B, or the designation of U in Thesis or Dissertation Research or Seminar are received. Students whose GPA falls below 3.0 in two consecutive semesters may be dismissed from the program.
B. Grievance procedure
If a Graduate Student in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics has a grievance, s/he should first meet with his/her mentor to discuss the issue(s). (If the student has not yet chosen a mentor, s/he should first meet with the Chair of the Student Affairs Committee.) If the student is not able to resolve the issue(s) at this meeting, s/he may call a meeting of his/her Studies Committee. If the student and the Studies Committee are unable to resolve the issue(s), the student then may schedule a meeting with the Department’s Grievance Committee. The Grievance Committee in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics shall include members of the Graduate Policy Committee, an elected Graduate Student Representative, and the Chair of the Department. However, any member of the Grievance Committee who serves either as the Graduate Student’s mentor or on his/her Studies Committee, or has any other conflict of interest, shall be excused from participation (except when their testimony is requested). If the student is dissatisfied with the decision of the Grievance Committee, s/he may appeal the decision to the Dean of the Graduate College, whose decision shall be final.
Academic performance and performance on teaching assignments will be reviewed by the faculty of the Department at the end of each semester. Thesis advisors/supervisors and Studies committees will be responsible for evaluation of progress in research, in accordance with Departmental Guidelines. Studies Committees will meet at least once each year to review academic performance and progress in research. Each student will give at least one research seminar a year. Studies Committee members are expected to attend this seminar and to meet with the student, in committee, following the seminar. The major advisor will keep a record of the committee’s deliberations and recommendations and circulate copies to the student, members of the committee, Department Chairperson, and Director of the Graduate Program.
Recommendations for dismissal from the program can originate from either the Studies Committee or the Graduate Student Affairs Committee. If it is decided that the student’s deficiencies are serious enough to warrant consideration of dismissal, the student will be notified, in writing, by the Chairperson of the Graduate Student Affairs Committee. The student will be invited to respond in writing and a meeting will be scheduled with the advisor and Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Student Affairs. If appropriate, a meeting with the faculty will be scheduled. If, following these deliberations, the recommendation for dismissal is upheld, the student will be dismissed from the program and the Graduate College. Alternatively, the faculty may dismiss the charges, or place the student on probation with recommendations for corrective action. The student’s Studies Committee will be responsible for monitoring the results of implementing the recommendations.