Please find below some answers to questions frequently asked by prospective, incoming, and current graduate students about Academics, Admissions, Finances, etc. These answers are brief by design. Therefore, if you desire further information, please do not hesitate to call Dr. Victoria Knutson, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (713-500-9870).
These answers represent just the beginning. We shall be adding more answers to frequently asked questions as time goes by. If you have a question that you think should be added to the list, please forward it to Office of Academic Affairs.
- Does everyone take three tutorials, and how would I petition to waive one tutorial?
- May I do a fourth tutorial?
- Please explain the different research-based GSBS courses and when a student takes them.
- I have taken and passed graduate school courses as part of a previous graduate school experience. May I count some of the courses I took in the previous graduate school towards GSBS course requirements? May I take alternative area courses instead of the regular area courses?
- May I take courses from other University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston schools and do they count towards the 9 credit hours required each semester?
- May I take courses from other schools not considered a part of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston?
- May I register past the late registration date? May I drop/add courses past the drop/add deadline?
- May I register as a part-time student?
- May I take a Leave of Absence?
Does everyone take three tutorials, and how would I petition to waive one tutorial?
All students in the M.S. / Ph.D. degree program are expected to take and pass three tutorials with three different GSBS faculty members. Each tutorial is expected to take a total of 200 hours over a 10 week period, or approximately 20 hours per week. Tutorials are designed (1) to allow the faculty member to assess the student's ability to function in their laboratory, and (2) to allow the student to assess whether they fit, and would enjoy working, in the faculty member's laboratory.
Students should take their tutorials in the first year so that they may expeditiously choose an advisor and begin their research project. The Academic Standards Committee will entertain petitions to waive the third tutorial if a student has chosen their advisor, and if the student has previous research experience, a previous thesis-based M.S. degree, or publications in the biomedical sciences.
The ASC requests two letters for their evaluation: one from the advisor stating that they have taken the student in their laboratory and will fund their stipend, and one from the student stating the reasons for their request to waive the third tutorial.
May I do a fourth tutorial?
Yes. Ph.D. students may do a fourth tutorial if they wish. This is usually allowed when a student has completed the first three tutorials but has yet to arrange to stay with one advisor for the duration of their training. A very limited number of these tutorials may be funded by the GSBS the remainder must be funded by the advisor with whom the fourth tutorial is conducted. Obviously doing a fourth tutorial delays the selection of an advisor by one semester and thus delays the beginning of the student's thesis/dissertation research. The GSBS Deans, however, strive to assist students in finding the optimal laboratory for their research.
Please explain the different research-based GSBS courses and when a student takes them.
A student's transcript must reflect their academic activities in each term. Therefore, if a student is doing research of any kind, the student must be registered for one of the GSBS courses that are designed to reflect research activities.
(a) Ph.D. students register for Tutorial Research Experience (GS000514) during the semesters in which they take the three tutorials, usually in the first year. Each tutorial is 4 credit hours. Students in the M.S. degree programs do not take tutorials. If an M.S. student wishes to take the equivalent of a tutorial to assess whether they want to stay in an advisor's laboratory, they should register for Special Project: Research (GS000530). Non-degree students may also take Special Project: Research.
(b) Students in either the M.S. or Ph.D. degree programs register for Research in Biomedical Sciences GS000520) after they have selected an advisor and until they pass candidacy. This course may be registered for 1-9 credit hours.
(c) Students register for either Thesis for Master of Science (GS000910) or Dissertation for Doctor of Philosophy (GS000920) after they have successfully passed M.S. or Ph.D. candidacy, respectively. These courses are registered for until the student is entirely done with all requirements for the degree, including the last semester in which they defend. GSBS rules state that the student must be registered for one of these courses in the last semester they are enrolled. This course may be registered for 1-9 credit hours.
I have taken and passed graduate school courses as part of a previous graduate school experience. May I count some of the courses I took in the previous graduate school towards GSBS course requirements? May I take
alternative area courses instead of the regular area courses?
The GSBS allows students to utilize previous coursework in two ways: (1) if the student has previous undergraduate coursework that is relevant to GSBS Area Requirements, then they may, with the permission of the Area Course Coordinator, take Alternative Area Requirements; and (2) if the student has previous graduate coursework that is relevant to GSBS Area Requirements, then they may, with the permission of the Area Course Coordinator, petition the ASC to waive that particular GSBS Area Requirement.
If the student wishes to utilize previous graduate coursework towards waiving coursework not concerned with the Area Requirements, they must discuss this topic with their advisory committee, that is charged with recommending coursework to the student to ensure an adequate theoretical background.
May I take courses from other University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston schools and do they count towards the 9 credit hours required each semester?
You may take courses which are relevant to your training from the other UTHSCH schools, provided they are graduate level courses. Course credit hours taken from these schools count toward the 9 credit hours required by GSBS graduate students each fall and spring semester and 6 each summer semester. (For other registration questions, please see Policies and Procedures.)
May I take courses from other schools not considered a part of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston?
Yes. We have cooperative agreements with the University of Houston, Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine, and Texas Women's University. GSBS students may enroll in graduate courses in these area institutions to obtain training directly related to their degree program at GSBS. Students must be registered for at least nine credit hours with the GSBS to be eligible for outside enrollment. Students must inform their advisor and their advisory/supervisory committee of registration for courses outside of GSBS.
Enrollment without the advisor's consent in courses unrelated to the student's GSBS program may be grounds for dismissal from the Graduate School. By the nature of these cooperative agreements, GSBS students may take courses at these institutions and may be allowed to pay the GSBS in-state tuition rate. Details on the procedures for registering for these courses may be obtained at the UTHSCH Registrar's Office at UCT 2250.
May I register past the late registration date? May I drop/add courses past the drop/add deadline?
The UTHSC Registrar will absolutely not allow any registration past the deadline for late registration, and will not allow drops/adds after the deadline date for drops/adds. It is incumbent upon each graduate student to know the dates of registration, to obtain any necessary counseling from the GSBS on which courses to take, and to register before the Registrar closes registration. Students who do not register by the deadline for registration must take an Official Leave of Absence to continue as a student in the GSBS.
Please be aware that there are two dates for dropping courses: the first date allows dropping a course without it appearing on the student's transcript and allows adding back credit with another course, while the second date later in the semester allows dropping the course without the option of adding another course, and the grade WP or WF will be posted on the student's transcript. Students who wish to drop a course by the second date must realize that they may go below full time status if they drop credit and cannot add course credit back.
It is also imperative that students pay their tuition by the deadline date set by the registrar. Students who do not pay their tuition by the deadline date will have their registration dropped without the option of re-registering for that semester, and thus will have to take an official LOA to remain a GSBS student.
May I register as a part-time student?
All GSBS students must register as full-time students, with a minimum of 9 credit hours each fall and spring semester and 6 credit hours each summer semester. The only exceptions to this are self-supported students not on an Assistantship (e.g., self-supporting M.S. students), and students who are in their last semester of graduate school. The latter must request taking less than full-time credit hours from the Office of Academic Affairs, and the GSBS grants this privilege for one semester only if you do not finish during the semester in which you were registered part-time, you must return to registering for full-time credit hours.
Students should be aware that registering for part-time status may negatively impact scholarships and fellowships, and potentially violate visa status. Students with visas who wish to register for part-time status during their last semester should contact the International Office at the UCT to ensure that the IO is aware of this change in registration status.
May I take a Leave of Absence?
The GSBS allows students to request an official Leave of Absence (LOA) for up to one year. During an official LOA, the student can not be paid by the advisor or the GSBS, but may work at outside employment. Students may request an official LOA from the Office of Academic Affairs at the GSBS. Students must state a date when they will return to the GSBS. If they do not return by that date, and they have not been granted an extension of the LOA, they will be considered to have withdrawn from the GSBS.
Students may return prior to the date that they stated they would return. Students returning from LOA do not need to re-enter the Admissions process, but they must notify the OAA that they are returning just prior to the semester that they wish to re-enroll in. Extensions of the official LOA for up to one additional year may be requested through the OAA, and must have the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School. An official leave of absence request petition must be filled out by the student and turned into the OAA. As a part of this form, numerous signatures are required from various offices around the TMC, indicating that the student is permitted to initiate a leave of absence with non-registered status.
How do I select an Advisory, Examination, or Supervisory Committee?
All committees must be approved by the GSBS Academic Standards Committee, which meets the second Wednesday of every month. All faculty members who wish to serve on committees for Ph.D. students and M.S. students must serve at a faculty or staff level at their home institution. If a proposed member of any of the following committees is not a GSBS faculty member, the ASC has requested that a 2-3 page NIH-style biosketch be submitted to the OAA with the committee application.
(a) Advisory Committee: (Please see Policies and Procedures.) Your chosen faculty advisor must serve as the chair of the Committee. No co-chairs are allowed. The Committee should have a minimum of 5 faculty members, chosen with the approval and with the consultation of the student's advisor.
The charge of this Committee is to: (1) recommend coursework to prepare the student with an adequate theoretical background, (2) prepare the student for the Candidacy exam, and (3) determine if the research project being undertaken is suitable for the degree in question.
Therefore, this Committee usually contains faculty who are expert in the field in question, some of whom have extensive experience with the GSBS, along with some faculty who are not representative of the field of study and who can provide breadth of knowledge (and one "outside" member).
There is no maximum number of Committee members, but more than 6 is not recommended since it is difficult to have all of them at one Committee meeting. The Advisory Committee may have 2 non-GSBS members who are at the faculty or staff level at their institution. Students must meet with the Advisory Committee every six months.
(b) Examination Committee: (Please see Policies and Procedures.) This Committee should have 5 faculty members, and the standard rules for committee formation apply, i.e., a minimum of three GSBS faculty members, not all GSBS members from the same department or program, and one "outside" member.
The charge of this Committee is to test the student's knowledge and determine if the student has the breadth and depth of scientific knowledge to become a candidate for the Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Sciences. For program-affiliated students, this Committee will conduct the oral portion of the candidacy exam, while for non-program-affiliated students, this Committee will conduct both the written and oral portions of the exam. GSBS rules prohibit the student's advisor from serving as the chair of this Committee, but the advisor may serve as a voting member of this Committee depending on the program with which the student is affiliated (please contact the Office of Academic Affairs for more information).
The Committee may have more than 5 members, but this is not recommended, since an uneven number of faculty on the Committee ensures that the vote on the outcome will not result in a tie. All of the members of the Examination Committee should be present for the candidacy exam. This committee may also have no more than 2 non-GSBS faculty members.
(c) Supervisory Committee: (Please see Policies and Procedures.) The Supervisory committee consists of at least 5 faculty members. The standard rules for committee formation apply (see above). This Committee is charged with supervising the student's research project and conducting the defense of the student prior to the completion of the M.S. or Ph.D. degree.
The ASC allows the Supervisory Committee to be composed of faculty with narrower research interests than the Advisory committee. This is done in an effort to provide the post-candidacy student with focused guidance during the time period when the project is nearing its completion. Students must meet with the Supervisory Committee every six months. This committee may also have no more than 2 non-GSBS faculty members.
May I supplement my Assistantship with other employment?
Students who are supported with an Assistantship are not permitted to work at an outside job. The Assistantships awarded to GSBS students are intended to contribute sufficiently to meeting educational and living costs so that students can devote full time to their studies. It is the expectation of the Graduate School, therefore, that students holding Assistantships will not undertake activities, including employment of any kind, that will interfere with their educational program or delay their progress toward the degree.
An exception to this policy will be made by the Dean only if the activity proposed by the student (1) can be justified as contributing in some fashion to his/her training as a researcher/teacher and (2) involves no more than 80 hours of effort over the course of an academic year.