Upon matriculation in the program, each student will be assigned to a member of the program faculty by the UMB-UMBC graduate committee. The role of the faculty member who serves as an interim advisor is to assist the student in all procedures relative to registration and early course selection until the time when the student has a research advisor and an advisory committee.
Students normally will choose their research advisor from among the graduate faculty members of the program at the end of the first academic year of graduate study. The choice will depend on mutual agreement between the student and the participating faculty member. The choice of advisor must be approved by the UMB-UMBC graduate committee. To form the student's advisory committee, the student and the research advisor will designate two additional faculty members from the program whose interests are consistent with the student's research interests and one other program member or other faculty member whose interests are related to the student's research. The membership of the advisory committee must include representatives from both the UMB and UMBC campuses, and its membership must be approved by the UMB-UMBC graduate committee. The research advisor will serve as the chair of the student's advisory committee and as chair of the student's final oral examination committee.
The advisory committee assists in the selection of courses for the student's program, approves dissertation research plans and is available to the student for consultation. This committee reviews the student's progress annually throughout the whole of the program of study and advises the student of the results of these reviews. Each entering student who has not demonstrated proficiency in the areas of organic chemistry and either physical chemistry or biology is required to correct the deficiency prior to matriculation. The student normally is accepted on a provisional status until this time.
During the initial year, each entering student will be required to take a research orientation rotation course. This can be either of the following:
This course consists of six to eight weeks of laboratory work in each of three laboratories in at least two research areas.
Each student is required to take a comprehensive course in biochemistry. This requirement can be met by:
- CHEM 437 and CHEM 638 (UMBC)
- GPLS 601, 602 and 603 (UMB)
All students receive a comprehensive and rigorous education in biochemistry by participating in formal courses representing principal areas of biochemistry and molecular biology. In addition to the general biochemistry rotation and laboratory research courses, each student will be required to register for advanced biochemistry courses until passing with a grade of "B" or better in one course in each of three of the following five subject areas: molecular biology, enzymology and bio-organic chemistry, physical biochemistry, metabolism and regulation, and biochemistry of structure and function. One additional course also is required in one of the three chosen areas. In addition to these advanced courses, a minimum of three credits of a further course in a related area, but not necessarily within the program, is required. These advanced courses in biochemistry and related areas are to be approved by the student's advisory committee.
In addition to the above courses, graduate students in the program are required to enroll in an approved seminar course each semester until they have been admitted to candidacy. During the first two years, students must register for the GPLS 608 Seminar (UMB) or CHEM 713 (UMBC). Even after completion of this requirement, attendance at weekly seminars is strongly encouraged. A minimum of 12 credit hours of dissertation research must be taken for credit, i.e., either GPLS 899 (UMB) or CHEM 899 (UMBC).
Effective September 1, 2005, for a student to be admitted to candidacy, the following qualifications must be met to advance to candidacy:
- Successful completion of program course requirements with at least a 3.0 grade point average.
- Must have an advisory committee chosen and approved by the director.
- Students will be required to pass an oral qualifier exam no later than six months following the completion of their course requirements. Two weeks prior to the oral qualifier exam, each student will be required to submit an NIH-style research proposal to his or her thesis committee that is based on his or her proposed doctoral research. The format of this proposal will follow the page limits and any other rules and regulations of an actual NIH pre-doctoral fellowship proposal. Students may submit this proposal to the NIH or another appropriate granting agency (i.e. American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, etc.); although, this is not required (sample site: grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-03-067.html The research proposal will be presented orally to the student's committee as part of the oral qualifier exam. During the oral qualifier exam, the student will be rigorously tested on his or her general knowledge of biochemistry and molecular biology, including:
- Molecular biology
- Enzymology and bio-organic chemistry
- Physical and structural biochemistry
- Metabolism and regulation
At the end of the oral exam, the committee will meet and determine that (1) the student passes and is recommended to be admitted to candidacy, (2) the student fails and must retake the exam within three months or (3) the student fails and cannot retake the exam. In the third case, it will also be determined whether the student qualifies for a terminal master's degree.
Prior to the meeting, the research advisor and/or the student should receive a packet of the student's record, including the courses taken and grades learned while in the program. It is the student's responsibility to send a current transcript of their grades and an updated CV to Foyeke Daramola at least two weeks prior to the date of the exam.
There are two requirements for performance in courses. First, a student must achieve at least an overall "B" average during the first two years of enrollment. Second, a student must have a "B" average or better in major courses alone. If either requirement is not met, the student may be dismissed from the program. At the discretion of the UMB-UMBC graduate committee, the student may be allowed an additional one or two semesters to achieve the "B" average in either of the above categories. If the student still has an average below "B" in either category, the student will be dismissed. In the latter case, no exceptions are allowed. Upon completion of the dissertation and its approval by the student's advisory committee, the research advisor will select members of the advisory committee, as well as at least one other faculty member and/or an outside reviewer to serve as examiners on the final oral examination.