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Your acceptance into the Master of Science program in the Department of Biological Sciences was based on a review by our faculty of your undergraduate achievement and on our judgment that you have a high probability of succeeding as a graduate student. Academic excellence will be expected of you. Your ability to work and learn independently and to synthesize information will be emphasized over your ability to simply acquire information through classroom instruction. As an integral part of the University community, you will be judged by the faculty on a more personal basis than ever before.
The following departmental guidelines complement those provided in Humboldt State University's GRADUATE STUDENT HANDBOOK, available on the web under Academic Programs Graduate Studies. Departmental requirements meet or exceed requirements established by the University or the State of California.
1.1 - General Requirements for the Degree
NOTE: The Biological Sciences Department stipulates that no grade lower than a B- is applicable to satisfy degree requirements.
1.2 - Requirements for the Master of Science in Biology
IMPORTANT: you must register for a minimum of 2 units of 690 or 699 every semester. It is possible that you may exceed the total unit requirements of these courses by the time you graduate. However, a maximum of eight units is applicable to the degree.
Know Your Limits: Effective Fall 2013, graduate students cannot receive state financial aid for more than 125 percent of the published minimum number of units required for their program of study. Financial Aid Limits & Caps for Graduate Students
University procedures to be followed can be found in the GRADUATE STUDENT HANDBOOK. The following list incorporates the required procedures with recommendations for facilitating timely progress and completion of the degree program. You are responsible for knowing and following these regulations.
NOTE: All University research is required to conform to federal regulations as interpreted by Humboldt State University and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). When living nonhuman vertebrates are used in the lab or in the field, an IACUC Protocol must be submitted. Depending on the level of potential risk to subjects, the time for institutional review can range from one week to several weeks. No research can proceed before having approval from the IACUC committee, therefore please read the IACUC home page.
2.1 - Major Professor. You were assigned a faculty advisor, chosen by you, when you were accepted into the graduate program. This faculty member will act as the supervisor of your thesis or project work and will serve as your counselor on academic and administrative problems.
2.2 - Formation of graduate committee. By the end of your second semester in residence, you must form your graduate committee. Each graduate student has the composition of his or her graduate committee determined in consultation with and approved by the major professor. This committee is responsible for almost all decisions concerning the student's performance and progress toward the degree. The committee consists of four members including the major professor, and must include at least one member who is academically remote from your immediate area of study and interest. You may select a faculty member with the required terminal degree (doctorate) from outside the department as one of the four members of your committee if it is appropriate because of your research or project topic. Other professionals in the discipline may be members of your committee because of experience or expertise, but such individuals are appointed as a fifth member of your committee.
2.3 - Initial committee meeting and advancement to candidacy. By the end of your second semester you must hold a committee meeting at which you will do the following:
Generally speaking, a thesis is a systematic study of a particular problem, involving original field and/or laboratory work on the part of the student. It is expected that the thesis will satisfy the dictates of the scientific method, will meet the appropriate standards of the field, and will be worthy of publication in a scholarly journal.
A project for this graduate program has a focus on education or the communication and dissemination of scientific ideas. Projects may be in the form of a book, film or digital media, or curriculum resources for educators and must be rigorously based in the biological literature. It evidences originality and independent thinking, appropriate form and organization, and a rationale. It will meet appropriate standards of the field, and will be worthy of publication in a scholarly journal or through professional venues of dissemination.
2.4 - Academic standing. Students are considered in good standing if they maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 in all courses taken at the university since entering the graduate program, and a GPA of 3.0 in all courses taken to satisfy specific degree requirements, and if they are making satisfactory progress toward completion of their degrees.
Under unusual circumstances, a student may be placed on probation and/or disqualified from the graduate program. In accordance with University policy, graduate students who fall below a 3.0 GPA shall be placed on academic probation and given one semester to bring their overall and programmatic GPA above 3.0. Failure to do so will result in disqualification from the program. Students who do not form a graduate committee and advance to candidacy within the first year of residence also are subject to disqualification (see Section 2.3). In addition, students who, in the view of their major professor or committee, are not progressing toward their degree in a timely manner may be terminated. Disqualified students may not register for classes without formal readmission to the university and program.
The Biology Department Graduate Advisory Committee (the Graduate Coordinator, Department Chair, and one additional faculty member) constitutes an appeals committee in matters involving probation and disqualification.
2.5 - Enrollment requirements. Students must enroll for a minimum of 2 units of Biology 690 or Biology 699 each semester. You must obtain from your advisor a permission code and the class number to add these units. An exception to this requirement may be made in cases where taking these two units would bring the total number to more than six units. Such an option will be contingent on the approval of the advisor and graduate coordinator.
2.6 – Leave of Absence. Students may request an educational leave from the program and university for extenuating circumstances. These are normally granted for a period of one semester or one academic year, but they may be extended for a maximum of two years (GRADUATE STUDENT HANDBOOK ). Approval must be sought from your committee by filling out an Educational Leave Agreement. If you fail to formally request a leave, you will be required to apply for readmission to the university when you desire to continue in the program. NOTE: Leaves are considered part of the seven year limit to complete your degree, so you are still on the clock!
NOTE: Key access to your lab/work space will no longer be available on a leave of absence; you will need to have new cards generated upon your return.
2.7 - Modifying your program or committee composition. For a variety of reasons, you may find it necessary to modify your approved program of coursework, change committee membership, modify your thesis or project proposal, etc. All such changes require approval of your graduate committee. If you make changes in your course work or committee members, you must complete a Request for Program Variation or Waiver.An Addendum to Advancement to Candidacy is used to request a change in any type of culminating experience after advancement to candidacy, such as: title changes, project changes, coursework changes, or adding an IACUC. Should your graduation date change, you must submit a Graduation Date Change Request
2.8 - Duties as a Teaching Associate. Assignment of duties as a paid Teaching Associate (TA) is recognized as a customary part of graduate education. Subject to availability of funded positions, you can normally expect to be hired to teach at least one lab each semester. Student evaluations are required for each class you teach. Your faculty supervisor will also evaluate you. Both evaluations will be reviewed by the Department Chair at the end of each semester, and all evaluations will become part of your permanent file.
NOTE: To receive a Teaching Assistant Tuition Waiver (EO611), students must file a FAFSA no later than March 2nd each year. Students who do not receive a State University Grant (SUG) or other tuition coverage may be eligible for a TA tuition waiver. Students must be appointed at a minimum of 2 WTU’s as a TA. Effective 2014-15 AY: TA waivers are limited to 2 years (4 semesters) maximum, available only for eligible students who have completed no more than 125% of the published minimum units of the Masters' program.
TA tuition waiver recipients who enroll for six or fewer total units (at least two of which must be related to their academic program) will be funded for half-time tuition fees only, campus based fees are not covered. TA tuition waiver recipients who enroll for seven or more total units (at least seven of which must be related to their academic program) will be funded for full-time tuition fees only, campus based fees are not covered
2.9 - Ordering equipment and supplies and use of facilities. Once your research or project topic has been defined and you have advanced to candidacy, turn your attention to securing funding for your research. Toward the end of each spring semester, the department announces the Master’s Student Grant Program. This program is the mechanism used to secure department funding for graduate student research or project activities by an application process. You will be informed of specific guidelines that must be followed in preparation of your grant request. It is beneficial to see the Stockroom Manager with a list of the research or project materials contained in your grant request prior to submission to the committee. Following award of the grants, the department administrative support staff will inform you of the specific steps you will need to follow in order to obtain your research or project materials and process your travel claims. The Master's Student Grant Program supply requests should be submitted to the Stockroom Manager one week after recipients are notified if supplies are to be used for summer work.
Permission to use certain departmental and university facilities and equipment (e.g., the scanning and transmission electron microscopes, the greenhouse, or the herbarium) has been delegated by the Department Chair to certain faculty coordinators. Please check with the Department Administrative Support Staff for the names of these persons and more information. For use of the Marine Laboratory in Trinidad, contact the lab staff at: (707) 826-3680.
The use of any departmental and/or university facilities is contingent upon registration and enrollment as a regular graduate student. Enrollment through Extended Education normally does not qualify students for use of departmental facilities (see exception, Section 2.5). A student not enrolled in regular course work must, at least, be enrolled in two units of Independent Study (BIOL 699) or Thesis (BIOL 690) to qualify for use of facilities.
2.10 - Completion of coursework. You must, as a matter of University policy, complete all coursework requirements that appear on the program approved at your Advancement to Candidacy committee meeting.
Students who miss the published deadline for the thesis or project presentation in a given semester may enroll the following semester through Extended Education for one unit of BIOL x693 for the purpose of making the presentation, and x693 units are not eligible for financial aid. This option is available only if the thesis or project has been approved by the advisor and committee before the end of the prior semester, while the student was continuously enrolled in Biology 690 or Biology 699 as a regular student. Your thesis must be finished and approved by the end of finals week to qualify for this option. The Graduate Continuous Enrollment for x693 can be found on the graduate student forms site. In other words, here's the one and only story: if you complete all work with your committee before the end of the semester, then you can defend the following semester by enrolling in one unit of BIOL x693 via Extended Education.