MS & PhD Requirements | Kent State University

All Master's and Doctoral students are required to consult with their advisor prior to registering for classes during their first semester. All students must form a guidance committee prior to the end of their first semester consisting of their advisor and two other members of the graduate faculty. The committee in collaboration with the faculty advisor and the student devises a curriculum of course work following the guidelines below This program of study is subject to the approval of the Graduate Coordinator and Graduate Studies Committee. The program of study must be submitted prior to the end of the first semester in which a student is enrolled. Students who change their guidance committee after completing the program of study should inform the Graduate Coordinator. Should it become necessary to revise the Program of Study, a new form must be completed.


Master of Science Program

Students must complete a minimum of 32 hours of graduate course work; including a minimum of 14 hours of formal graduate course work and six credits of Thesis I. After completing 6 hours of Thesis I, continual registration for Thesis II is required. Students are required to put together a brief proposal describing their research project and have it reviewed and approved by their Guidance Committee. Students are also required to present at least one departmental seminar about their research.

Thesis and Final Defense: The student must complete a master's thesis. It is expected that the student will present the results of their study in a defense open to students and faculty. The thesis must be presented and defended before the Guidance Committee with not more than one negative vote in order to be recommended to the Department and the College of Arts and Sciences for degree conferral.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Required course work for the doctoral program includes research hours for a total of 60 credit hours beyond the master's degree or 90 credit hours beyond the bachelor's degree, of which 20 credits must be formal courses. Students are required to present a departmental seminar about their research.

After completing their coursework, a student completes the doctoral program by being admitted to candidacy, by proposing a research project to the faculty, and by completing and defending that research with a written dissertation before a faculty committee.

Candidacy Exams: The student is admitted to doctoral candidacy following successful completion of both written and oral candidacy examinations. These exams are based on prior course work and course work taken in this graduate program as determined by the student's academic Guidance Committee, which must consist of at least three eligible faculty members. The advisor(s) and a majority of members of the Guidance Committee must be members of the appropriate graduate program. This committee is responsible for determining the student's academic curriculum and for administering the candidacy exams. Following successful completion of candidacy exams, students register for Dissertation I for two semesters and thereafter for Dissertation II continually.

Prospectus: Following admission to candidacy, the Guidance Committee is expanded to include at least one additional member whose primary appointment is not in the Department of Biological Sciences; this person is designated the "outside member". Other members may also be added to the committee at this time if it is deemed useful in the guidance and direction of the student's dissertation research project. This expanded committee is called the Dissertation Committee. It is expected that a student begins doctoral research by successfully preparing, presenting and defending a formal prospectus for their research project to the Dissertation Committee. The presentation of the dissertation prospectus should be presented to the Dissertation Committee for approval as soon as possible and no later than the semester following completion of the candidacy exam.

Dissertation and Final Defense: Following completion of the research project, the student must present the results of the project to the Dissertation Committee in the format of a completed dissertation. When the committee agrees that the project is complete and the dissertation sufficiently well written, the student must defend the significance and results of the project in a public dissertation defense. The Examining Committee consists of the Dissertation Committee plus a representative of the College of Arts and Sciences who is assigned to the committee by the Dean. Doctoral students are required to submit at least one manuscript based on their doctoral research at Kent State University to a refereed scientific journal prior to graduation.

Curricular Guidelines for MS and PhD students

  • Students must enroll in appropriate coursework for their focus area, including courses in their major area. For example, students majoring in physiology must take appropriate, available physiology courses and so on. In addition, doctoral students are expected to include coursework in other appropriate areas to insure a breadth of training.
    • PhD students in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program are required to take the following four (4) core courses: Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics, Evolutionary Biology, Populations and Communities, Communities and Ecosystems.  Masters students in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program must take three (3) of these core courses.
    • Students in the Integrative Physiology and Neurobiology program must take at least one course in physiology and/or Neuroscience (such as Endocrinology or Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience).
    • Students in the Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics program must take at least one course in each of the following areas: cell biology/molecular biology (such as Eukaryotic Cell Biology) and biochemistry (such as Bioenergetics).
  • Students are required to enroll in at least one graduate level course in statistics.
  • All students are required to attend seminar; pre-candidacy doctoral and MS students must enroll in seminar each semester.
  • Students should enroll in additional courses that provide necessary skills for completion of research projects and that will be beneficial for their professional development.
  • All students are required to take Responsible Conduct in Research and Teaching.
  • All students must complete the required online Laboratory Safety Training.
  • Students with coursework deficits in curricula of prior degrees, should enroll in appropriate graduate-level courses (permission must be obtained from the department to enroll in undergraduate-level courses)

Students in all graduate programs are subject to the academic rules and regulations described in the graduate catalog and are responsible for being familiar with them. In addition, the department graduate student handbook has important details about procedures, orders in which events happen, examples of forms, and other related items; students should be familiar with and understand the policies specified in the handbook. Students should be aware of and adhere to the appropriate checklist for their degree program.