The Qualifying Examination provides an opportunity for the faculty to evaluate students before their admission to candidacy to the PhD degree. It is also a valuable learning experience where a student has a chance to read critically with faculty on the thesis topic and two other topics of interest to the student. The overall structure of the Qualifying Examination is as follows:
- A five-week reading period during which three topics (thesis topic and two non-thesis topics) selected by the student are studied in depth.
- A two-week period for the preparation of two research proposals (thesis and non-thesis).
- An oral examination covering the reading topics, the proposals, and other areas of genetics.
- The Qualifying Examination requires the full-time attention of each student.
Accordingly, students are exempt from laboratory and classroom activity. Ideally, the student should not be enrolled in courses during the qualifying examination period. If the student wishes to take a course concurrently with the Qualifying Exam, prior permission must be obtained from the DGS, and any necessary special arrangements must be made with the instructor of the course.
Guidelines for the Qualifying Examination
Setting up the exam
Several weeks before the beginning of the exam, the student consults with his/her advisor about topics and potential faculty readers. At least one of the three faculty members on the qualifying exam committee must have an appointment in the Genetics Department. The student should first identify faculty who can cover literature relevant to the thesis proposal. The other two reading topics must be unrelated to the thesis topic. The student may pick either the topic first and then find a faculty member to read with, or pick a faculty to read with and then jointly choose the topic. The student should have some familiarity with the non-thesis topics (from coursework or independent reading) so that current research in the field can be critically evaluated.
Once the student has some ideas about the qualifying exam committee and topics, the student sends this information and a short description of the topics to the DGS for approval. The DGS may require modification of the reading topics if they are too broad, too focused or too closely related to the thesis topic. Based on this information the DGS, in consultation with the student, will appoint the committee and designate a Genetics faculty member as the Chairman. In consultation with the exam committee, the student establishes a schedule for the reading and writing weeks, and (most importantly) the date of the oral exam. A list of the final approved exam committee, the chairman and topics must be distributed by the student to all committee members, the advisor, the DGS, and the Genetics Registrar.
- Select three faculty (at least one in Genetics) and three topics (one thesis, two non-thesis)
- Establish an exam schedule
- Obtain approval from the DGS
- Circulate the topics, reading period schedule, time & place of the oral exam, a list of committee members and the name of the chairman to the DGS, committee and advisor
- Give each committee member a copy of the Guidelines for the Qualifying Exam (available in the Graduate Program office)
Reading Period (5 weeks)
The reading period should not exceed 5 weeks. During the reading period, the student meets for one to three hours per week with each faculty reader to discuss and critically evaluate specific scientific papers; however, the frequency and length of the meetings may vary at the discretion of the faculty readers. The focus of the reading period should be on primary research literature, supplemented when necessary by reviews. The choice of papers may be made by the student, the reading faculty or both, and the thesis advisor may be consulted about the reading. Typically, students read in depth 2-5 papers per week for each of the faculty readers.
- Meet with each of the faculty readers at least once per week
- Develop outlines for the research proposals
- Remind committee members and advisor of the time and place of the oral exam
Writing Period (2 weeks)
The student will prepare two brief research proposals (8-10 pages each, double spaced), one on the thesis topic and the second in one of the other reading topics. Each proposal should concisely review the pertinent background information, logically and clearly state the questions being asked, and intelligibly lay out the experimental plan according to the following outline:
- Specific Aims (1 page or less). A concise statement of the general problem under study and the explicit goals of the project.
- Background and Significance (no more than 3 pages). This section should place the experiments in context and describe the system in a manner intelligible to a non-specialist. This should include a critical evaluation of the relevant literature and a description of how this project will advance knowledge in the field.
- Experimental Plan. Outline the experiments envisioned at this time and indicate how they will help you attain the overall goals of the project. Acknowledge pitfalls and limitations of your experimental approach, and if possible suggest alternative strategies. Suggest possible results and how they would be interpreted.
- References should be included at the end and do not count in the page limit. It is often helpful to include a page or two of diagrams/figures/tables.
The proposals are normally written during the writing period, although the student may elect to begin working on them sooner. The proposals should demonstrate the student's ability to recognize important unsolved questions and to design experiments to answer them. They should, therefore, be original proposals, developed solely by the student and not read by anyone else before being handed in to the exam committee.
The thesis proposal may reflect discussions with the research advisor, but it should emphasize the student's priorities and original ideas. The non-thesis proposal should be developed from one of the reading topics, and it will serve as an example of independent scholarship. The committee will judge the proposals on the basis of logic, feasibility and originality.
Write the thesis and non-thesis proposals (do not have them read by other students or faculty) Submit the proposals at the end of the writing period to each member of the exam committee, the advisor, and the Graduate Program Registrar.
Preparation for Oral Examination
The oral examination must take place no more than one week after submitting the written proposals. To prepare for the oral exam, the student is strongly encouraged to organize and take a practice oral exam with students and postdocs from their lab or from the laboratories of their qualifying exam committee. It is helpful to give the mock exam committee drafts of the research proposals. The thesis advisor and other faculty are not allowed at the practice exam.
All oral exams will follow the same general format. The oral examination will focus on the student's ability to present and defend the two research proposals. The student should come to the exam with short (~15 minute) presentations for each proposal and visual aids, such as overheads. The actual presentations will take longer since faculty will interrupt with questions. The committee can also ask questions on topics covered during the reading period and general topics in genetics that will have been covered in courses and recent Genetics seminars. The thesis advisor will not be present at the oral exam. The exam usually lasts about 2 hours. At the beginning of the exam, the committee will excuse the student for a brief period so it may consult. At the end of the oral exam, the student will again be excused. Following this, the student will return to the exam room and the committee will tell the student its evaluation, as well as provide feedback on the entire exam period. Students are also encouraged to meet individually with committee members to receive additional input regarding their proposals. Although it is difficult to prescribe a standard length for the prospectus, it should be long enough to include essential information for all proposed topics but concise enough to focus clearly on the subject. About seven pages, including bibliography, should be sufficient in most cases.
The final evaluation by the exam committee faculty takes into account the student's performance on the examination and performance in lab (based on the advisor's evaluation). A written summary of the qualifying examination evaluation will be prepared by the examination committee chair and submitted to the DGS. Copies of the written evaluation will be forwarded to the student, committee members, advisor, and Genetics Registrar. The three possible outcomes are: Pass - the student did well during the reading period and satisfactorily defended the research proposals. Conditional pass - there were deficiencies in literature proficiency, the written proposals or the oral defense of the proposals. Possible recommendations for further work (to be specified by the examination committee) include additional reading, revisions to written proposals, additional coursework and a repeated oral examination. If a student is required to take a course, it should be taken for credit and the student should receive an Honors or High Pass grade.
The DGS may be consulted about the specific recommendations. Fail - the student's grasp of the literature, written work and defense of the proposals were unsatisfactory. The student will be informed of the problems at the end of the exam. The student may be given the opportunity to re-take the exam after the student has had time to do remedial work. Usually, the same examination committee will preside over the second oral exam. Failure to pass the exam a second time will be grounds for dismissal. The committee and DGS may also fail the student without an option to retake the exam, which would result in dismissing the student from the graduate program. The committee must consult with the DGS and advisor before its recommendations are finalized.
Overall Exam Timing
The qualifying examination must be completed by the end of the second year (fourth term, May 31). Extensions must have prior approval of the DGS.
A timeline for the exam is:
- Several weeks before the exam: meet with advisor and DGS to discuss the exam
- Before exam starts: meet with reading faculty to decide on reading for first week
- Weeks 1-5: meet weekly with each reading faculty
- Weeks 6-7: write proposals
- End of week 7: hand in proposals to committee, advisor, Graduate Program Office
- By end of week 8: oral examination
Role of the Thesis Advisor
The student should start his/her exam only after a thesis project is well established in the lab. The thesis advisor should already have had substantial input to the aims and experimental approaches for the project. The student should already have done significant reading on the thesis topic, including all recent papers from their lab, and discussed these papers with the thesis advisor. Therefore, the student will enter the qualifying exam with the benefit of intellectual support from his/her advisor, possibly including the opportunity to read grant proposals written by the advisor. The reading period will provide the student with dedicated time for additional in-depth reading of literature relevant to the thesis project.
The student is encouraged to modify his or her thesis project aims based on the reading period. During the exam, the student may continue to consult with the advisor about specific papers to read, especially on the thesis topic. However, the student must write the thesis proposal independently and the thesis advisor may not read the proposal. There will be ample opportunity for the advisor to discuss the proposal with the student after the exam is completed. The thesis advisor will provide a written evaluation of the performance of the student in the lab to the DGS. The thesis advisor will not be present at the oral examination.
Responsibilities of the Committee Members
- Read the entire Qualifying Examination guidelines!
- When you are asked to serve on an examining committee, you should feel free to comment upon and modify the topic on which you are reading. Is it too broad or too narrow? Is it worded clearly? Could the topic be revised to make it more interesting or more appropriate in scope?
- Before the beginning of the reading period, you should help the student embark up an appropriate program of reviewing and reading. The student will probably have his/her own ideas regarding general references (reviews or chapters which survey each topic as a whole) and specific references (key research papers), but may have overlooked other valuable references and will benefit from your advice and help.
- During the reading period, the student will return to see you regularly to ask questions and discuss the reading. It is best to set up a schedule of meetings at the beginning of the reading period.
- If during the course of the reading period it becomes apparent that the student is having difficulties, the committee chairman should be notified immediately.
- At the finish of the writing period, the student will deliver to you two brief research proposals designed to illustrate the student's capacity to develop interesting ideas for research. You must read both proposals, regardless of whether your reading topic is represented in them.
- At the oral examination, you should design your questions to serve three functions: to amplify and clarify the proposals; to explore the breadth of the student's knowledge within each subject area; and to assess the student's overall preparedness for independent PhD research.
Responsibilities of the Chairman of the Examining Committee
In addition to the duties shared with the other committee members, the Chairman has two special responsibilities:
To monitor the student's performance during the reading period. The Chairman should contact the other committee members mid-way through the reading period to find out if there are any problems. If it becomes apparent that the student is experiencing difficulties during the reading period, discuss the problem candidly with the student and other committee faculty to identify the source of the problem and to try to resolve it. The Chairman should not hesitate to contact the DGS in such a situation.
To preside over the oral examination and to communicate the results of the entire examination to the student and DGS. At the beginning of the oral examination, the usual procedure is for the committee to meet without the student for 5-10 minutes to discuss the proposals and the student's overall performance up to the oral examination. Following the oral questioning, the student is asked to leave the room again, and then the Chairman presides over a discussion of the student's performance on the examination as a whole. The Chairman should take a vote on which of the recommendations to make to the DGS (see Evaluation section). The student then returns and the committee reports its evaluation and transmits specific advice, feedback & recommendations. Finally, the chairman sends a written summary to the DGS stating the student has taken the Qualifying Examination, the date, the committee members present, and the outcome of the examination.
Responsibilities of the Director of Graduate Studies
- To discuss with each student their qualifying exam topics and faculty, modify them if necessary, and give final approval.
- To be available for consultation with the committee.
- To obtain a written evaluation of the performance of the student in the lab from the thesis advisor and send a copy to the exam committee chairman. The evaluation does not need to be extensive, but should alert the committee to any significant problems the student is having in the lab. This letter will not be forwarded to the student.
- To send copies of the examining committee's report to the student and advisor.
- To notify the Graduate School of the grade of the Qualifying Examination.
Appendix 2: Graduate Student Seminar Guidelines
Graduate Student Seminar: Critical Analysis & Presentation of Scientific Literature”
Guidelines GENE 675 2012-2013.
Marketing yourself and your research are important ingredients for success.
The Graduate Student Seminar has three major goals:
1) To improve the presentation skills of graduate students
2) To assist students in critical evaluation of the literature
3) To expose our genetic students to the breadth of our departmental science.
- Second year students are required to attend
- This year, each week, two students will present one paper each from a particular field. Class will run from 1:30PM to 3:00PM on Wednesday afternoons.
- Students will present “Classic Papers” during the fall semester, and “Current Papers” during the spring semester.
- “Classic papers” are historical studies of great relevance in a particular field, chosen at the faculty advisor’s discretion. Faculty advisors: please note that the relevance of the paper is more important than its vintage. If one of the foundational papers in your field appeared several years ago, feel free to choose it. However, advisors are strongly encouraged to select classic papers that meet one or more of the following criteria:
1. Foundational papers now regarded as classic.
2. Papers whose findings were the product of sound scientific method and experimental approaches, and were once widely
accepted but have since been overturned;
3. Papers once widely accepted as accurate but that suffered from serious methodological or conceptual errors that
have since discredited them;
The goal is to lead the students to a more sophisticated and critical reading of the
literature, without fostering cynicism.
- “Current papers” are recent studies on topics of particular interest to the faculty advisor.
- The faculty advisor is responsible for selecting the paper to be presented and supporting relevant literature. It is important for the student to understand the context in which to place the paper to be presented. Each presenting student will read the assigned literature and meet with the faculty advisor to discuss it and the presentation before the seminar.
Seminar Format and Objectives
- "Each presentation will last no longer than 30 minutes (exclusive of questions and comments during the presentation), followed by discussion of the paper and critique of the student’s presentation, not to exceed the remaining class time". The presentation must include a critical evaluation of the paper, not merely a summary of the results. Students and the faculty advisor are encouraged to ask clarifying questions during the presentation.
- The faculty advisor is responsible for encouraging critical discussion. The advisor should also provide background and insight into the studies, and for topics that arise during the discussion.
- The faculty advisor will lead the critique of the student’s presentation. The goal is to provide constructive advice and feedback that will help the student correct obvious flaws in his/her speaking style, approach, and communication of the material. The critique is also intended to highlight good speaking habits and strategies and point out ineffective ones for the other students. The advisor should be as critical as is warranted.
- Everyone is expected to have read the papers before the seminar and to participate in discussion. The speaker and students should critically evaluate the work – not every paper is a good one.
- In order to improve students' critical reading and foster discussion after the presentation, every student is required to 1) read the paper and 2) bring along a written summary of 3-4 lines of what is the paper punch line followed by two questions on the paper's results, model or implications of the findings. Note - copying and pasting sentences from the paper is considered plagiarism. In your own words, summarize in 3-4 lines where the field was standing before this paper, and the most important step forward provided by the presented paper. In addition, students in the audience will be called upon following the presentation unless they voluntarily speak by themselves. Bring the written punch line and questions to the faculty coordinator at the beginning of every class.
- All students are required to attend every seminar. Failure to attend without an excused absence from the instructor will result in failure of the course. Excused absences are rare but may include illness or family emergencies. Preparation for the qualifying exam does not qualify for an excused absence.
Content of the Presentation
A Few General Tips
- In preparing any part of the presentation, focus on the punch line of your talk. Then work backwards in providing the key data supporting the punch line and the right introduction necessary to understand the relevance of the identified punch line.
-To make sure you engage your audience, identify the conceptual relevance of what you present. Especially in such a diverse department such as the Genetic one, very few people will know your field of interest and very often will not know the techniques or tools you use.
- Make sure every slide has a premise in the title. Titles have to contain a statement from which a conclusion can be drawn.
- In making your slides make sure that 1) they are not too crowded, 2) the right size is used for the audience to be able to read from far away and 3) the right colors are chosen. In preparation of a presentation, students are encouraged to view their own slides projected on a large screen (rather than on a computer screen) and to sit near the back of the room to see if the print is big enough and the colors stand out appropriately. Colors stand out differently on a computer screen vs projection on a large screen.
-On color: The use of color should be limited and critically examined for usefulness vs. obfuscation.If a colored object is used with a superimposed label, contrast of the label and object should be examined and maximized following trial inspection on a large screen, as suggested above.
- While presenting, face your audience. Do not turn your back to people but engage them by looking straight in their eyes.Speak up clearly by projecting your voice. Your model should be an actor projecting his voice on stage, not a two-person discussion.
State the title and the authors. Give the overall goal of the study. Tell us why the goal is an important one; if the goal is not important tell us why. Give us the background. This involves explaining the foundation upon which the work is built and why these results are noteworthy. This will usually involve reading more on the subject than is included in the papers you will present. This is why you must begin working on your seminar 1 to 2 weeks prior to the day you will present it. If the paper was not widely accepted on first publication, tell us why.
There will not be time to present all of the results. Therefore, present only the crucial ones. For each result there is usually a specific question being addressed and a methodology being employed. State the question first. Second, go over the method. Do not assume everybody is familiar with the methods. However, if during earlier presentations, a method was described very carefully, just touch upon it. If the methods used were not the best ones to address the question, state this and tell us why and describe methods that might better address the question.
Show us the results. If you are pasting figures directly into your presentation, you may need to edit tables or re-label graphs etc. to make them clear. Evaluate the results. Are there error bars? Are the results significant? How many flies/worms/fish/yeast were used in the experiment? How many times were the experiments conducted? Are they presented clearly? Be critical – the paper may have serious flaws.
State the important conclusions. Remember that a conclusion and an interpretation are different. Are the conclusions justified by the results? Do the results support the model presented? Do the authors make conclusions or is a laundry list of experiments presented? What is the interpretation of the study? Are there other interpretations? What are they and why? Explain why the papers are significant, different, and selected to be read in this class. Have one final slide in which you identify follow-up questions and the experiments that can help address the questions you have identified.
Every student presenting should print his/ her presentation for each person in the audience (18 total -16 students + 2 PIs). Use the handout power point presentation format containing 6 slides per page, and double sided. Students in the audience should write their feedback in correspondence to the appropriate slides and hand the printed presentation back to the presenter at the end of the session. These evaluation forms are to be returned to the speaker to assist the speaker in improving her/his presentation skills. This evaluation will be anonymous. The faculty advisor will also provide a written evaluation for the seminar, critiquing the speaker’s presentation skills and offering suggestions for improvement. Finally, please send the powerpoint presentation to the faculty coordinator just before or right after class.
It is in the best interest of the students to contact the designated faculty member two weeks prior to the class. This will be enough time to 1) get the articles from the faculty, 2) to read them along with the literature supporting the article and 3) go back to the faculty advisor to discuss both the paper and the format of their presentation. The "classic paper" in the fall or "current paper" in the spring will be emailed to the student presenter by the designated faculty member at least a week prior to class. Valentina(or PI facilitator) will create a shared Dropbox folder and send an invitation to the students for them to accept. Please drop the PDF files of the papers you will present on the Dropbox folder.
Meetings will be monitored by the faculty coordinator of the seminar course. Faculty advisors and students should direct any questions to her.
Appendix 3: Guidelines for Genetics Research Proposal
The thesis proposal written for the qualifying examination will serve as a starting point. The revised proposal should incorporate important suggestions from your qualifying committee and your advisor. In addition, the focus or plans for your thesis work may have shifted since your qualifying examination. The proposal should be no more than 10 double-spaced pages and conform to the following format:
- Specific Aims (1 page or less). A concise statement of the general problem under study and the explicit goals of the project.
- Background and Significance (no more than 3 pages). This section should place the experiments in context and describe the system in a manner intelligible to a non-specialist. This should include a critical evaluation of the relevant literature and a description of how your research project will advance knowledge in the field.
- Preliminary Results (2-3 pages). Description of the experiments you have already carried out and the results and your interpretation of them.
- Proposed Experiments (3-4 pages). Outline the experiments envisioned at this time and indicate how they will help you attain the overall goals of the project. Acknowledge pitfalls and limitations of your experimental approach, and if possible suggest alternative strategies.
- References should be included at the end and are not counted in the page limit. If necessary, you can also include a page or two of diagrams/figures/tables.
- The complete proposal should be distributed to the thesis committee and the DGS one week before the committee meeting.
The main objective of writing this proposal is to familiarize your committee with your project. It also gives you a chance to refine your goals based on comments from your advisor and qualifying committee and any additional preliminary results you have obtained. Prepare a short talk with overheads. The committee meeting is not an exam; it is intended to aid the productivity of your research efforts.
Appendix 4: The Dissertation Prospectus
Suggested Guidelines from the Executive Committee of the Graduate School (April 1990)
The Executive Committee recognizes that the form and content of dissertations develop and change as work on them proceeds. The prospectus should therefore be viewed as a preliminary statement of what the student proposes to do and not as an unaltered contract. We also recognize that the appropriate form and typical content of a prospectus will inevitably vary somewhat from field to field. In most cases, however, we would expect a prospectus to contain the following:
- A statement of the topic of the dissertation and an explanation of its importance. What in general might one expect to learn from the dissertation that is not now known, understood, or appreciated?
- A concise review of what has been done on the topic in the past. Specifically, how will the proposed dissertation differ from or expand upon previous work? A basic bibliography should normally be appended to this section.
- A statement of where most of the work will be carried out, for example, in the Yale library or another library or archive, in the laboratory of a particular faculty member, or as part of a program of field work at specific sites in the United States or abroad.
- If the subject matter permits, a tentative proposal for the internal organization of the dissertation, for example, major sections, subsections, sequence of chapters.
- A provisional timetable for completion of the dissertation.
The Genetics Dissertation Prospectus
A thesis research proposal, updated from the student's first thesis committee meeting, generally suffices for the formal Dissertation Prospectus. A cover page should be included with signature lines for the advisor and DGA to indicate their approval.
Appendix 5: Schedule of Academic Dates & Deadlines (2006-2007)
Fall Term 2012
Monday, August 20
New student orientation week begins.
Thursday, August 23
SPEAK test for new international students in PhD programs.
Thursday, August 31
Friday, August 24
Fall-term Online Course Selection (OCS) begins.Orientation in departments for all new students begins.
Monday, September 3
Labor Day. Administrative offices closed.
Tuesday, September 5
Orientation for all new teaching fellows. Registration for returning students begins.
Wednesday, August 29
Fall-term classes begin, 8.30 a.m.
Friday, September 8
Final day to pick up registration materials from academic departments.
Friday, September 7
Final day to apply for a fall-term personal leave of absence. The entire fall-term tuition charge or Continuous Registration Fee (CRF) will be canceled for students who withdraw from the Graduate School on or before this date or who are granted a leave of absence effective on or before this date.
Wednesday, September 12
Fall-term online course selection (OCS) ends. Final day for registration. A fee of $25 is assessed for course schedules submitted after this date.
Friday, September 21
One-half of the fall-term full-tuition charge will be canceled for students who withdraw from the Graduate School on or before this date or who are granted a medical leave of absence effective on or before this date The CRF is not prorated.
Monday, October 1
Final date for the faculty to submit grades to replace Temporary Incompletes (TIs) awarded during the 2005ñ2006 academic year. Due date for dissertations to be considered by the degree committees for award of the PhD in December. Final day to file petitions for degrees to be awarded in December.
Friday, October 19
Midterm. Final day to add a fall-term course. One-quarter of the fall-term full-tuition charge will be canceled for students who withdraw from the Graduate School on or before this date or who are granted a medical leave of absence effective on or before this date. The CRF is not prorated. Teaching appointments will not appear on the transcripts of students who withdraw from the assignment on or before this date.
Thursday, November 1
Readersí reports are due for dissertations to be considered by the Degree Committees for award of the PhD in December. Final day to change enrollment in a fall-term course from Credit to Audit or from Audit to Credit. Final day to withdraw from a fall-term course.
Wednesday, November 7
Departmental recommendations are due for candidates for December degrees. Final day to withdraw a degree petition for degrees to be awarded in December.
Wednesday, November 14
SPEAK test for international students in PhD programs.
Friday, November 16
Fall recess begins, 5.20 p.m.
Monday, November 26
Classes resume, 8.30 a.m.
Wednesday, December 12
Classes end, 5.20 p.m. Final grades for fall-term courses are due for candidates for terminal M.A. and M.S. degrees to be awarded in December.
Tuesday, December 18
Fall term ends; winter recess begins.
Spring Term 2013
Friday, January 4
Final grades for fall-term courses due.
Monday, January 21
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Administrative offices closed. Classes do not meet.
Monday, January 14
Registration and spring ID validation begin. Spring-term classes begin, 8.30 a.m.
Wednesday, January 23
Final day to apply for a spring-term personal leave of absence. The entire spring-term tuition charge or CRF will be canceled for students who withdraw from the Graduate School on or before this date or who are granted a leave of absence effective on or before this date.
Friday, January 25
Registration and spring ID validation end. Spring-term online course selection (OCS) ends. Final day for registration. A fee of $25 is assessed for forms submitted after this date.
Thursday, February 7
One-half of the spring-term full-tuition charge will be canceled for students who withdraw from the Graduate School on or before this date or who are granted a medical leave of absence effective on or before this date. The CRF is not prorated.
Friday, March 8
Midterm. Spring recess begins, 5.20 p.m. Final day to add a spring-term course. One-quarter of the spring-term full-tuition charge will be canceled for students who withdraw from the Graduate School on or before this date or who are granted a medical leave of absence effective on or before this date. The CRF is not prorated. Teaching appointments will not appear on the transcripts of students who withdraw from the assignment on or before this date.
Friday, March 15
Due date for dissertations to be considered by the Degree Committees for award of the PhD in May. Final day to file petitions for degrees to be awarded in May.
Monday, March 25
Classes resume, 8.30 a.m. Monday, April 2 Final day to change enrollment in a spring-term course from Credit to Audit or from Audit to Credit. Final day to withdraw from a spring-term course.
Friday, March 29
Good Friday. Classes meet. Administrative offices closed.
Monday, April 15
Readers reports are due for dissertations to be considered by the degree committees for award of the PhD in May.
Friday, April 20
SPEAK test for international students in PhD programs.
Thursday, April 25
Departmental recommendations are due for candidates for May degrees.
Monday, April 22
Final day to withdraw a degree petition for degrees to be awarded in May.
Wednesday, May 1
Classes end, 5.20 p.m. Final day to submit Dissertation Progress Reports and Petitions for Extended Registration.
Tuesday, May 7
Spring term ends.
Friday, May 10
Final grades for spring-term courses are due for candidates for M.A. and M.S. degrees to be awarded at Commencement.
Sunday, May 19
Graduate School Convocation.
Monday, May 20
Monday, June 3
Final grades for spring-term courses and full-year courses are due.
Appendix 6: The Nature and Role of the Doctoral Dissertation
Distinguishing characteristics of the doctoral dissertation:
The dissertation should demonstrate the student's mastery of relevant resources and methods and should make an original contribution to understanding the field.
The originality of a dissertation may consist in the discovery of significant new information or principles of organization, the achievement of a new synthesis, the development of new methods or hypotheses, or the application of established methods to new materials.
The idea of a dissertation need not originate with the student, nor must the line of research followed by the student be exclusively of his or her own design. We take it for granted that the ides of faculty advisors will often play a significant role in shaping the dissertation.
It is permissible for students to use research done in collaboration with others as the basis of their dissertations, and more than one student may obtain the PhD by using a body of data derived from a common research project. In the physical and biological sciences such collaboration is now normal. Each student is expected, however, to write a separate dissertation from an independent and original contribution to the research was.
Since the dissertation is expected to embody an original contribution to scholarship by a particular individual, multi authored dissertations are not permissible, and more than one student may not obtain the PhD by using the same dissertation.
It may occasionally be appropriate to append to a dissertation the results of original, unpublished research by other scholars (with their permission). Such a contribution should normally appear as an appendix, and its authorship should be made clear both at the beginning of the appendix and in the table of contents of the dissertation.
Principles and Suggested Guidelines from the Executive Committee of the Graduate School
This working paper has been prepared by Jerome Pollitt, Dean of the Graduate School, on the basis of deliberations by the Executive Committee of the Graduate School. Its members are: Marie Borroff, Lampson Professor of English, Leo Hickey, Professor of Geology and Geophysics and Biology George May, Sterling Professor of French, Martha Constantine-Paton, Professor of Biology, T. Paul Schulz, Brachman Professor of Economics and Demography, H. Bradford Westerfield, Wells Professor of International Studies and Professor of Political Science. Also participating in the discussions were three Associate Deans of the Graduate School: Robert E. Bunselmeyer, David C. Spadafora, and Deborah G. Thomas.
Use of Previously Published Work
Previously published work by the student may be used in the dissertation as long as it represents work done after the student was enrolled in the PhD program and as long as it has not been used previously to obtain another degree. It is not permissible, however, simply to append offprints to the dissertation. The previously published research must be rewritten in such a way that it fits logically into the structure of the dissertation. There is no restriction on the kind of previously published research that may be used, but if the results of the research appeared in a multi-authored article, the independent contribution by the author of the dissertation must, as always, be made clear.
Unity and Diversity Within the Dissertation
Normally it is expected that a dissertation will have a single topic, however broadly defined, and that all parts of the dissertation will be interrelated. This does not mean that sections of the dissertation cannot constitute essentially discrete units. Dissertations in the physical and biological sciences, for example, often present the results of several independent but related experiments.
The question arises from time to time of whether or not a series of unrelated, or at least loosely related, article-length essays can be submitted as a dissertation in the Humanities and Social Sciences. This has seldom been done at Yale and is not encouraged. We feel, however, that the faculty should keep an open mind on the question and that a student who wishes to present a case for a dissertation of this sort should be given the opportunity to do so.
Length and Time to Completion
Given the diverse nature of the fields in which dissertations are written and the wide variety of topics that are explored, it is obviously impossible to designate an ideal length for a dissertation. Virtually every one agrees, however, that a long dissertation is not necessarily a better one, and that quality of thought and clarity of exposition, not sheer bulk, are what value.
As was stated at the outset, we feel that the dissertation should demonstrate the student's mastery of relevant resources and methods and make an original contribution to understanding in the field. We do not feel, however, that it should be the major scholarly achievement of the student's entire lifetime as a scholar. The dissertation should help the student get launched on his or her professional career and not be a towering obstacle that delays the beginning of that career by many years. Yale is official period of candidacy is six years, and we feel that all students should be able to complete the PhD within that period. Normally three, or at the most three and one-half, years should be devoted to the completion of pre-dissertation requirements (courses, examinations, selection of a dissertation topic) and the remaining time, i.e., two to three years, to the dissertation.
This means that students, faculty advisors, and Directors of Graduate Studies should give serious thought to the scale of the proposed dissertation topics. There should be a reasonable expectation that the project can be completed in two to three years.
Appendix 7: Taxation of Scholarships and Fellowships
This is a summary of the federal and state tax treatment of scholarships, fellowships and assistantships. It has been prepared for distribution to students enrolled in the Graduate School. Please be aware that University staff members may not provide income tax advice or assistance to individuals. Since the tax laws are complex and may apply differently in individual circumstances, please consult your accountant or other tax advisor in order to ensure proper compliance. For additional information, you should read IRS Publication 520, Scholarships and Fellowships, available at http://www.irs.ustreas.gov/.
General Rule of Taxation
Under federal tax law, a scholarship or fellowship provided to a student in a degree granting program is not taxable if the entire fellowship amount is used to pay the costs of tuition, fees, books, equipment and supplies (required fees, books, equipment and supplies are limited to those specifically required of all students in a course).
Amounts in excess of these costs are taxable, as are any payments for services rendered such as the performance of research. Because the State of Connecticut income tax is based on taxpayer's federal adjusted gross income, taxable portions of scholarships and fellowships as well as payment for services rendered are also subject to State of Connecticut income tax.
Scholarships and Fellowships
With several important exceptions described below, the University does not withhold federal or State of Connecticut income taxes from scholarship or fellowship stipends and is not required to report these stipends to the respective taxing agencies as income. Students are responsible for reporting to the IRS and the State of Connecticut Department of Revenue Services any portion of their awards that is properly taxable. Therefore, students who receive fellowships or scholarships should keep their award letters and receipts for tuition and required expenses in order to substantiate their taxable and/or nontaxable fellowship income.
Important: Students who are not subject to withholding may be required to file quarterly estimates tax payments with the International Revenue Service and the State of Connecticut. Failure to file may result in interest and penalty assessments.
For international students, the University and other grantors are generally required to withhold federal income taxes at a rate of 14% of that part of the award which is in excess of tuition, required fees, books, equipment and supplies. This provision applies to non-resident alien students who hold F, J, M or Q visas. Other international students may be subject to withholding at a rate of 30% of their stipends. Students may receive refunds of amounts in excess of taxes owed after they file appropriate federal and state tax returns.
Students should be aware of any tax treaties between the U.S. and their country of residence and, where applicable, may reduce or eliminate the required amount of federal income tax withholding by filing the appropriate forms with the University Tax Department located at 155 Whitney Avenue, second floor, Room 22. To schedule an appointment with the University Tax Department, please call 432-5530 or 432-5597 or email Jodie.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We encourage you to visit the International Tax Office website at http://www.yale.edu/finance/tax/int_tax/index.html for more information regarding payments to international students. The University reports taxable fellowship and scholarship income paid to international student on a Form 1042-S, a copy of which is also sent to the student.
Most students are admitted to the Graduate School with the expectation that they will teach for some period of their awarded fellowship period. The University is obligated to withhold federal and state income taxes on the stipend paid for teaching or, in some cases, on a portion of the fellowship stipend paid during the fellowship period. The University reports taxable teaching stipend income to the IRS, the State of Connecticut and the student on a Form W-2.
Research and Assistantship Stipends
Research and Assistantship stipends are taxable income and the University withholds federal and state income taxes on these amounts. The University report taxable assistantship and research stipends to the IRS, the State of Connecticut and the student on a Form W-2.
Note; The IRS does no require the University to withhold Social Security taxes (FICA) on the earning of students who perform services while they are enrolled as at least half-time students. Payments to non-resident aliens who hold F-1, J-1, M-1 or Q-1 immigration status may also be exempt from FICA.
Personal Tax Considerations
As students assess the effect of federal and state tax law, they should keep in mind the personal exemption and standard deductions available to taxpayers. Generally, taxpayers whose income is below the combination of the standard deduction and the personal exemption pay no federal income tax. For the calendar year 2010, the federal standard deduction is $5,770 for single persons ($11,400 for married couples who file jointly) and the personal exemption is $3,650. However, if a student is eligible to be claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer's tax return (e.g. parents), the student may not claim the standard deduction. In certain instances, a student may have an obligation to file a return even where no tax is due. A student may likewise be required to file a State of Connecticut tax return.
- Internal Revenue Service: 1-800-829-1040, www.irs.istreas.gov
- CT Department of Revenue Services: 1-800-382-9463, www.ct.gov/drs/site/default.asp