Warning Status and Proficiency

Students making good progress in all areas appropriate to their year in the program are in “good standing.” A student who has not successfully completed the relevant milestones (class work, qualifying exam) or responsibilities (teaching) or has not suitably advanced the research project will be assigned a status of “warning,” as discussed below. The reasons for the warning status assignment are conveyed to the student in writing along with guidance for how to return to good standing. A student on warning from the preceding review who has made clear progress may have her/his status changed to good standing. If a student on warning has not shown adequate improvement in all aspects of professional development, the student’s status will be changed to “termination” and the student will be asked to leave the graduate program.  

Class work

MCB students must earn a minimum grade of B, or the equivalent performance in a course taken S/NC, in all courses used to fulfill the requirements for the doctoral degree. If this level of performance is not attained in a course, the student will be placed on academic warning, and the Director of the Graduate Program, in consultation with the course instructor(s) and the student’s advisory committee, will determine the course of action needed to attain proficiency in this area. If B-level performance is not attained in two course credits, the Director of the Graduate Program, in consultation with the student’s advisory committee and the MCB Graduate Program Executive Committee, will determine if the student may continue in the program. If B-level performance is not attained in three course credits, the student's status may be changed to “termination” and the student may be asked to leave MCB Graduate Program upon review by the MCB Graduate Program Executive Committee.

Teaching           

Students must participate satisfactorily in all activities organized by the course leader for the classes in which they are assigned as teaching assistants. Students who do not meet the expectations of the course instructor or senior instructional staff will be assigned a status of “warning.” The student will receive a warning letter delineating the specific deficiencies, remedial actions, and a specific deadline for reevaluation.  At the deadline, the faculty member responsible for supervision of the student during the warning period will advise the Director of Graduate Studies of the recommended status of the student. The MCB Graduate Program Executive Committee will then review the recommendations of the faculty supervisor and Director of Graduate studies and either return the student to “good standing,” maintain the student on “warning” status, or recommend a change to “termination” status.

Research

The most important component of a student’s doctoral education is independent research. Without a strong record of independent research and analysis, there is no PhD. The majority of a student’s research education and training as a professional scientist occurs through interactions with her/his research advisor and research group. Discussions with the research advisor should make clear to each student those aspects of her/his research that are progressing well and those aspects that require improvement.

First-year students are required to perform research rotations in three laboratories during the academic year.  The majority of students will be accepted into a laboratory after these three rotations.  If a student is not accepted into a laboratory, she/he will perform additional one-month rotations starting June 1 until acceptance into a laboratory. If a student is unable to be accepted into a research laboratory after five total rotations, her/his status will be changed to “warning.”  If the student is unable to be accepted into a laboratory after six total rotations, the student’s status may be changed to “termination” and the student may be asked to leave the MCB Graduate Program upon review by the MCB Graduate Program Executive Committee.  If a student is unable to find a host laboratory for a fourth rotation by July 1, her/his status will be changed to “warning.” If the student is unable to find a host laboratory for a fourth rotation by August 1, the student’s status may be changed to “termination” and the student may be asked to leave the MCB Graduate Program upon review by the MCB Graduate Program Executive Committee.

If a student already in a thesis laboratory (either before or after the PhD Qualifying Examination) needs to transfer to a new laboratory, the student must conduct a satisfactory one-month rotation in the new laboratory before joining that laboratory for a thesis project. If the rotation is not satisfactory, the student’s status will be changed to “warning,” and the student must conduct a second rotation in another potential thesis laboratory. If the second rotation is not satisfactory, the student’s status may be changed to “termination” and the student may be asked to leave the MCB Graduate Program upon review by the MCB Graduate Program Executive Committee. If a student is unable to find a new potential thesis laboratory within a month of leaving the original thesis laboratory, the student’s status will be changed to “warning.” If the student is unable to find a new potential thesis laboratory within two months of leaving the original thesis laboratory, the student’s status may be changed to “termination” and the student may be asked to leave the MCB Graduate Program upon review by the MCB Graduate Program Executive Committee.

For first-year research rotations and thesis laboratory research, students register for BIOL2980 Graduate Independent Study. Prior to the PhD Qualifying Exam students register for a letter grade in BIOL2980. After the PhD Qualifying Exam, students register S/NC for BIOL2980. The BIOL2980 grade is determined by each research advisor based on how well the student meets expectations for research progress discussed by the student and advisor throughout the project. BIOL2980 grades until the qualifying exam fall under the same proficiency requirements as for class work: MCB students must earn a minimum grade of A, or B in BIOL2980 to remain in good standing. 

After the student passes the PhD Qualifying Examination, the Thesis Advisory Committee provides formal assessment of the student’s research progress at least once a year at the committee meeting. After each meeting, the student receives a written copy of this evaluation in a committee meeting report from the faculty members of the committee.  If this form indicates “good standing” then the student will remain in good standing.  If this form indicates “warning” then the MCB Graduate Program Executive Committee will review the contents of the form and make a decision of whether the student will remain in good standing or be changed to warning status.  If a student is changed to warning status, the student will receive a warning letter that clearly indicates the deficiencies, necessary remedial actions to return to “good standing” status, and a specific deadline for improvement.  At the deadline specified in the letter, the Thesis Advisory Committee will meet to decide whether the student returns to “good standing,” remains on “warning,” or moves to “termination” status.  If a student does not return to a status of “good standing,” the MCB Graduate Program Executive Committee will then make the final decision on status. After the student passes the PhD qualifying examination, if a research advisor assigns a grade in BIOL2980 other than S, a committee meeting must be scheduled within one month after receiving the grade other than S where the committee will decide the academic standing of the student.

Students who have gone more than 15 months since the last Thesis Advisory Committee meeting will be placed on “warning” until they hold the required meeting.  Students who have still not held a Committee Meeting within three months of receiving the initial warning will receive a second warning. Students who have still not held a Committee Meeting within three months of the second warning may be moved to “termination” status, as determined by the Director of the Graduate Program in consultation with the Thesis Advisory Committee and the review of the MCB Graduate Program Executive Committee.

Honor Code and Ethical Conduct

MCB Graduate Students are expected to adhere to the ethical guidelines as outlined in the Brown Graduate School "Academic and Student Conduct Code".