Introduction to the Graduate Program

The primary aim of our graduate program in the Department of Biological Sciences is to foster your development as a scientist by providing you with a strong technical background, a sound grasp of current scientific problems and the analytical skills needed to address such problems. We also want to instill in you a motivation to continue learning, which we hope will permit you to define and solve new kinds of research problems during your professional career. Upon graduating, you will move on to positions in academia, industry, and government. We welcome your input on our graduate program. Your suggestions will assist us in further developing our program to remain at the cutting edge of science.

Graduate Committee for Admissions and Degree Requirements

The Department of Biological Sciences (BSC) Graduate Committee for Admissions and Degree Requirements consists of faculty members representing diverse research areas in the department. The Chair of the BSC Department also takes part in this committee as an ex officio member. This committee has specific responsibilities for establishing and administering graduate degree requirements, recommending admission of students into the program and facilitating and implementing new policies in conjunction with the Chair of the Department.

Graduate Committee for Recruitment and Current Student Activities

The Department of Biological Sciences (BSC) Graduate Committee for Recruitment and Current Student Activities coordinates graduate recruiting efforts and serves as a resource and liaison for graduate students in the department. BSC graduate student concerns regarding any issues related to curriculum, assistantships or progress toward a degree should direct those concerns directly to this committee.

Both committees will address any disciplinary actions defined by this handbook.

Graduate School

The general rules and regulations governing all UA graduate students are found on the Graduate School website. The Department of Biological Sciences has additional requirements for all biological science graduate students. Any instance where the Graduate School website and the Biological Sciences Graduate Student Handbook differ, the Biological Sciences Graduate Student Handbook will overrule the Graduate School website.

Courses Offered

Catalog descriptions of all courses offered may be found online in the Graduate Catalog. In general, courses numbered 400-499 are primarily for advanced undergraduate students, while courses numbered 5xx or 6xx are intended for graduate students.

Coursework below the 400 level will not be accepted for graduate credit.

For M.S. Students

A maximum of 6 semester hours of 400-level course credit may be accepted for a master’s degree only if all the following apply:

  1. The 400-level courses taken are outside the biological sciences department.
  2. The department offering the 400-level course offers a graduate degree.
  3. The 400-level course must carry appropriate extra work to be counted for graduate credit. Appropriate documentation from the course instructor must be provided to and approved by the student’s committee.
  4. The necessary graduate credit transfer request form must be approved by the department and Graduate School prior to the semester in which the 400-level coursework will be taken.

For Ph.D. Students

No 400-level courses may be accepted for a Ph.D. degree.

 General Policies and Requirements

 The BSC Department is constantly evolving and the graduate program must occasionally change to meet any needs that may arise. As a result, policies in this handbook may change during your graduate studies. BSC graduate students will always have the option of graduating under the course requirements in effect when entering the program. However, all other changes to the policies outlined in the handbook (e.g., deadlines, disciplinary actions, methods of progress review, administration of qualifying exams/defense etc…) will pertain to all current graduate students.

Departmental Seminar (Graduate Research Seminar)

Regular departmental seminars are an important part of graduate education and all graduate students are required to register for and attend the weekly departmental seminar, enrolling in BSC 601 (Biological Sciences Seminar) each semester they are in residence at the Tuscaloosa campus. The purpose of the weekly graduate student seminar is to ensure that all graduate students are familiar with the breadth of current biological research. Students receive pass/fail for each semester. Additionally, sometime during each student’s last two semesters, they are expected to participate by presenting their research in consultation with their faculty advisor and the BSC 601 course instructor.

It is incumbent on students to initiate this process and schedule a presentation date with the seminar committee the semester prior to their presentation.

Grades and Credit Hours

 Each graduate student must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 to remain in good academic standing. All graduate students must maintain a minimum of 9 credit hours during fall and spring semesters to maintain full-time status – excluding credit hours awarded for service as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). Students may register for a maximum of 15 semester hours, inclusive of credit hours awarded for service as a (GTA). Graduate Students must be full-time students in order to receive Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA’s) and Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA’s). Please note that our requirements differ from the minimum number of credit hours required by the Graduate School.

Transfer of Credit from Other Institutions

 M.S. students can request the transfer of up to 12 credit hours of graduate courses taken at other institutions. Ph.D. students can request the transfer of up to 24 credit hours of graduate courses taken at other institutions. See the Graduate School Handbook for current policies and course requirements under Degree Requirements).

Capstone Creed

“As a member of the University of Alabama community, I will pursue knowledge; act with fairness, honesty, and respect; foster individual and civic responsibility; and strive for excellence.”

Graduate Student Responsibilities

As a graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences, each student is responsible for his or her overall program of study and progress toward degree. This includes adherence to all deadlines, milestones and curriculum requirements. Their primary advisor and committee members will advise students throughout their graduate tenure. However, it is incumbent on each student to be familiar with all requirements and take the primary responsibility of meeting these milestones. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary actions as defined in the sections below.

*All appropriate graduate forms must be submitted through the Graduate Program Office in SEC 1325. Scanned copies of each form submitted to the Graduate Program Office will be placed in each graduate student’s UA-Box folder. Students should confirm that these copies have been uploaded to their UA-Box folder.