Student Handbook

Thesis Defense ("B") Exam

Genetics, Genomics and Development Graduate Students are expected to produce at least one high quality first-author publication as a condition for obtaining the Ph.D. degree.  The oral defense of the Ph.D. thesis (or “B” exam) before the Special Committee occurs after the student has distributed the dissertation to the Special Committee members.  The student must deliver a copy of the thesis to their committee at least one week before the exam. In addition, at least 7 days before the exam the student must bring to the GFAs and the Graduate School the Schedule of Final Examination Form (signed by your committee and the DGS). An open seminar, often scheduled as a Wednesday Field Seminar, is given as close to as possible, if not immediately before, the B-exam. The seminar announcement should include the title and summary of the thesis research, as well as status of publications resulting from the thesis research.  Within 3 business days after the exam, a Results of Examination form must be turned into the GFAs and the Graduate SchoolThese forms can be downloaded from the Graduate School web site at

The Field expects GGD students to complete their PhD degree in six years or less. Senior students will be asked prior to the completion of their fifth year in the program to provide the DGS a written summary detailing remaining experiments and manuscript plans, a thesis outline, and a brief description of post-graduation plans. In cases where a student has stayed in the program for significantly longer than 6 years, in consulting with the student's Special Committee, the DGS will set a deadline by which the student must defend his/her thesis. The student will also be informed that defending the thesis is not a guarantee that he/she will receive a Ph.D. degree.

To familiarize yourself with the format of a typical thesis in our field, you can access a collection of theses completed by graduate students in GGD and BMCB in Room G09, formerly the Elizabeth Keller Reading Room located on the ground floor of the Biotechnology Building. You need to stop by 107 Biotech to sign out the key to gain access to this room. Please note that materials are NEVER to be taken from this room. Full collections of dissertations are maintained in Mann Library.

**NOTE: once the final thesis is submitted and approved, your status as a registered student expires, which also means that your stipend and your health insurance will stop. So plan accordingly.
For international students, your F1 visa will also expire. Talk to ISSO about OPT and other visa related issues.