The educational program for preparing PhD students in biophysics, biotechnology and environmental health is compiled on the basis of analyses and generalization of the corresponding programs of the leading institutions of developed countries and considering the needs and regulations of home countries.
The objective of doctoral study is to develop each student's ability to conduct original, advanced research as an independent scientist. In keeping with this goal, each student is expected to guide his/her own research project, under the supervision of one of Faculty Members, with a high level of effort and accomplishment, and thereby gain the capacity to be self-teaching and the ability to design and conduct research on important issues in the student's field.
The duration of PhD courses is 3 years (12 semesters, in each 10 weeks). Courses are conducted in compliance with PhD international program providing the students 66 credits. The courses are given by the international team of distinguished scientists. PhD students have the opportunity to conduct a part of their dissertation in foreign laboratories. PhD dissertation is supervised by four leading scientists. The graduates will receive an appropriate diploma of the state standard according to regulations of home country. The students are involved in research projects that are being implemented within the framework of the Network. English and modern computer courses are included in the program.
PhD courses leading to the doctoral degree (66 credits) consist of the following components:
• Core courses (total -15 credits): 10 credits are obtained from the courses provided by participant institutions, 5 credits obtained from the courses provided by outside institutions,
• Supporting courses as approved by PhD Advisory Board (12 credits minimum) - 7 credits are obtained from the courses provided by participant institutions, 5 credits are obtained from the courses provided by outside institutions
• Dissertation research (35 credits) - 30 credits provided by participant institutions of the Network, 5 credits are obtained from outside institutions during their visit to leading institutions.
• Seminar (4 credits)
• Satisfactory seminar and defence of an approved doctoral dissertation based on laboratory and/or theoretical research.
The program of providing 66 credits is partially borrowed from PhD educational program of University at Albany in consultation with Prof. David Carpenter (former dean of University at Albany) who has kindly agreed to be the head of International Advisory Board of the Network.
Theoretical courses (core and supporting) are realized through DES and are conducted by a team of leading lecturers from participant institutions (providing 17 credits) and some western institutions (10 credits). PhD students have the opportunity to conduct a part of their dissertation (to obtain 5 credits out of 35 credits) in foreign laboratories. The duration of core and supporting courses (27 credits total) are 45 weeks with five semesters, in each-10 weeks. At the end of each semester the examination on current courses is organized.
In order to be admitted to the program the applicants should present
After accepting the documents from the potential students the entrance examinations are organized to choose the students on the competition basis. The applicants are examined according to their major and regulations of their home institution and have to take an English language test. Those applicants who have publications in international journals will have priority in being accepted to the program. The graduates will receive an appropriate diploma of the state standard according to regulations of home countries.
A temporary advisor for each incoming student is selected. The advisor meets with the student whenever necessary to advice on course selection, advanced standing, course waivers, examination waivers, and selection of thesis/dissertation advisors. Recommendations concerning advanced standing, course and examination waivers are submitted to Committee for Management and Programming of the Network. Students must meet with the research groups involved in the project before selecting a dissertation principal advisor.
After selecting a dissertation principal advisor at the end of the first semester, the student together with the principal advisor select PhD Advisory Board, which is composed of at least three other members from the participant institutions and one member from a western institution. The scientists are chosen based on the dissertation topic as well as the eligibility criteria elaborated by the Education Group. The composition of the PhD Advisory Board is reviewed and approved by the Committee for Management and Programming.
Preliminary Examination: Before the end of the second semester of study an oral examination is conducted and graded by the PhD Advisory Board. The examination is administered by four members of PhD Advisory Board and encompasses broad general questions in relevant areas of the selected division. On the basis of the student’s performance in the preliminary examinations and grades in courses, the PhD Advisory Board recommend that:
Qualifying Examination (Part 1)
At the end of the third semester, each student who has passed the preliminary examination is examined by the student's Advisory Board, after all course requirements are completed. This is an oral examination and is in the major area of the anticipated research specialization. The Advisory Board assigns a pass/fail to the student. A student who fails may be reexamined within one year with the scope of the examination being determined by the Board. The student who fails to pass on the second try will be required to quit his study.
Qualifying Examination (Part 2): This examination consists of an oral defence of a written research proposal prepared by the student. The proposal and the oral defence are evaluated by PhD Advisory Board (Pass/Fail). The exam treats the student’s depth of knowledge in his/her chosen area of specialization as well as his/her ability to write and defend a research proposal. This examination is to be on a topic intended to serve as a basis for the student’s PhD dissertation research. This examination is at the end of the 4th semester.
The research proposal should be a detailed document outlining the background and conduct of the proposed dissertation research and should be designed to answer a significant question in the field of his/her study. The student may consult someone in the course of preparing the proposal, but the written document must represent the student's own work. The principal advisor may aid in the development of specific aims and construction of a topical outline for the dissertation proposal. The advisor also may direct the student to relevant literature and may edit an initial draft. However, the advisor should not act as a co-author. The research proposal is judged on standard criteria, including, but limited to, the student's grasp of the field, significance of the proposed work, originality and depth of thoughts and feasibility of the experimental approach. The proposal is submitted to the PhD Advisory Board at least one month prior to an oral presentation of the proposal. At the oral defense, the student answers questions on related topics; the questions focus on (but are not restricted to) the student's program area. The PhD Advisory Board, chaired by the dissertation advisor, administer the exam. The student must pass the exam by the majority of votes of the Board. The PhD Advisory Board communicate the data and results of the exam. If the student does not satisfactorily complete this part of the exam, the PhD Advisory Board make appropriate recommendations, which may include modifying the proposal and re-taking the exam, completing remedial course work, or dismissal from the program.
Admission to candidacy: A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon meeting the following standards:
* A minimum of a B average evaluation record*.
* Completion of course requirements.
* Satisfactory completion of both Parts of the Qualifying Exam.
* Completion of any additional requirements specified in the Network’s Educational Bulletin.
*If a student gets lower than B record in a required course, he/she must retake the course.
Dissertation research, role of the PhD Advisory Board: The student’s Advisory Board meet regularly with the student throughout the course of his/her dissertation research to evaluate progress and advice. The Advisory Board is also responsible for evaluating and accepting the final written dissertation and conducting the student’s oral dissertation defence. Acceptance of the dissertation is by majority of votes of the Advisory Board and is subject to the approval of Committee for Management and Programming.
Laboratory rotations: The laboratory where the student is intended to pass the rotation is selected by the student’s Advisory Board. The aims of the laboratory rotations are:
✓ To allow the student to interact with scientists of varied disciplines.
✓ To introduce the student to laboratory principles and techniques.
✓ To give both the students and the Department an opportunity to interact intellectually.
✓ To aid the student in selecting a mentor for graduate research.
It is advisable that all students regardless of their previous laboratory experience participate in the lab rotations and should not repeat a rotation in with the same mentor. The student is expected to put at least 12 hours per week during each rotation.
The rotation schedule is designed to obtain the maximum lab (clinical) experience within the framework of courses and additional graduate responsibilities. There is a Summer Rotation for students who enter the program early or those who enter in January and wish to satisfy their rotation requirement before the fall semester. Data for these alternate rotation schedules may be obtained from the PhD Advisory Board. At the end of each rotation the students are required to write a brief report (3-5 pages) describing their project. This report should be given to the research advisor and, after his/her final draft, must be submitted to the PhD Advisory Board one week after the end of the rotation. The student is responsible for submitting this report and the failure to do so results in an incomplete grade.
At the end of the core courses, i.e. after receiving 15 credits, the final examination is organized. Starting from the 4th semester the students continue their study in the supporting courses according to their chosen directions (tracks). The main tracks of the program are discussed and finalized during the first meeting of the consortium. By the end of the 4th semester the dissertation subject and the members of the Advisory Board of each student are finalized and approved by Committee for Management and Programming.
The supporting courses also have practical and theoretical parts. The laboratory rotations are organized in specialized laboratories of participant institutions and the theoretical part is taught by the invited lecturers of both participant institutions and leading western universities through Distant education system.
By the end of the 5th semester the examinations and seminars on the subjects of the dissertation works are organized for each student and only after receiving the approval from Committee for Management and Programming, they finalise their dissertation thesis under the leadership of members of the PhD Advisory Board.