Student Handbook

Please note that the following is an excerpt of the entire Student Handbook, which may be downloaded on the Documents and Forms webpage.

Welcome to the Comparative Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.

We look forward to helping you obtain your advanced degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and hope that this handbook assists you in pursuit of that goal. Please feel to contact the program coordinator or director if you have specific questions or concerns.

Academic Committee (academic year 2018-2019)

The Academic Committee consists of faculty members from the School of Veterinary Medicine and at-large faculty trainer, as well as two graduate student representatives from the Comparative Biomedical Sciences (CBMS) Graduate Program. The committee reviews applications, certifications, and is responsible for the administration of the CBMS Graduate Program. The current committee members are:

M. Suresh (Director) – Pathobiological Sciences
Ralph Albrecht – Animal Sciences
Dörte Döpfer – Medical Sciences
Joan Jorgensen – Comparative Biosciences
Jonathan McAnulty – Surgical Sciences
Peter Muir – Surgical Sciences
Adel Talaat – Pathobiological Sciences
Lauren Trepanier – Medical Sciences
Chad Vezina – Comparative Biosciences

Guests
Dale Bjorling – Dean of Research and Graduate Training, SVM
Charles J Czuprynki – Chair and Professor, Pathobiological Sciences

Student Reps
Ros Luethcke – Trepanier lab
Shannon Walsh – Henak lab

Please check this web site often for updates on program requirements

Learning Outcomes/Training Goals

Master’s Level

All UW-Madison students entering the CBMS graduate program must hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Graduates obtaining a master’s degree are expected to achieve the following learning goals by the end of their degree work.

Knowledge

  • Articulates, critiques, or elaborates the theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry and/or schools of practice in the field of study.
  • Articulates sources and assembles evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of study.
  • Assesses and/or applies methodologies and practices in the field of study.
  • Articulates challenges involved in practicing the field of study, elucidates its leading edges, and delineates its current limits with respect to theory, knowledge, and/or practice.
  • Appreciates the implication of the primary field of study in terms of challenges, trends, and developments in a social or global context.

Skills

  • Demonstrates abilities to apply knowledge through critical thinking, inquiry, and analysis to solve problems, engage in scholarly work, and/or produce creative products.
  • Evaluates, assesses or refines information resources or an information base within the field.
  • Communicates clearly in styles appropriate to the field of study.

Professional Conduct

  • Recognizes and applies ethical conduct and professional guidelines.

Doctoral Level

Regardless of whether an individual is initially awarded a master’s degree, the doctoral level learning goals are inclusive of the master’s level learning goals. Additionally, doctoral level students are expected to achieve the following learning goals by the end of their degree work.

Knowledge

  • Initiates, assembles, arranges and/or reformulates ideas, concepts, designs, and/or techniques in carrying out a project beyond conventional boundaries.
  • Engages diverse cultural, historical or personal perspectives and articulates how these perspectives contribute to a project, paper or performance.

Skills

  • Creates research, scholarship or performance that makes a substantive contribution to the field of study.
  • Demonstrates breadth within their learning experiences.
  • Implements methodologies and/or practices and illustrates their relationships to allied fields.
  • Develops new concepts and methodologies and/or identifies new research opportunities.
  • Communicates complex and/or ambiguous ideas clearly.
  • Evaluates the implications of one’s own scholarship/research/performance to broader social concerns.

Professional Conduct

  • Fosters ethical conduct and professional guidelines.

MS Degree Program

Coursework: Register for classes. Choose your coursework in consultation with your major professor. You will need 30 total credits to graduate (combination of didactic or lab courses, seminars and research), one-half of which must be 700-level and above, or designated as graduate level if numbered 400-699.

Required Coursework

  • 9 didactic credits (6 credits of advanced coursework may be transferred as approved by your thesis committee and the academic committee provided they are defined as graduate level). Credits from undergraduate courses taken at UW-Madison may be transferred if at the graduate level.
  • 2 credits of Path-Bio 930 seminar (research seminar).  Masters students must register for two semesters of Path-Bio 930 and present once during their second year. MS students will take the course S/U (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) if not presenting.
  • 19 (minimum) research 990 credits
  • Thesis or publishable work approved by your major professor and committee (official deposit is not required) of work based on original research and defended before your committee.
  • Certification submitted and approved by your thesis committee and the academic committee.

Thesis Committee:  You must have a committee to assist and guide you through your graduate career. The MS thesis committee is comprised of three members: your major professor, one additional from the CBMS Graduate Program (see trainer list on program website), and one from any graduate program on campus. The third member may also be a professor from another institution, a scientist or other person knowledgeable in your field. Also see “First Meeting/Certification” below.

Certification:  Certification consists of preparing a document (available on the web site or from the program coordinator) that details your coursework, research plan and committee make-up that is signed by your committee and approved by the Academic Committee.

You should complete certification by the end of the first semester you are enrolled.

First Meeting/Certification:

1.  With your major professor, decide which faculty you will ask to be on your graduate committee. Either you or your major professor should contact other faculty to determine whether they are able or interested in participating in your committee.

2.  At least one month prior to when you would like to have the meeting, contact all members of your committee to schedule a meeting at an appropriate time. Make sure you schedule a meeting room.

3.  Compile the following:

  • List of previous coursework relevant to your current area of research.
  • List of proposed courses.
  • Prepared paperwork required for certification.

4.  Distribute a brief (1-2 page) summary of your proposed research to your committee prior to the meeting. Your proposed research plan should outline your hypothesis and describe the strategy to be used to test the hypothesis. Also, define how each of your committee member’s area of expertise will assist your research program.

5.  Prepare and present a brief oral presentation (15-20 min PowerPoint presentation) describing your proposed research.

6.  After the meeting, complete the certification form and have it signed by all members of your committee.

7.  Submit the completed, signed form to the graduate program coordinator (room 113 Hanson Building). The form will be submitted to the Academic Committee for approval.

Annual Meetings after Certification:  Meet with your thesis committee annually to update and inform them of your progress in your research program, and to discuss any problems and define directions of the research.

Detailed Procedure:

1.  Write and distribute any updates on your research to your committee one to two weeks prior to the meeting.

2.  At the meeting, present a brief PowerPoint summary of the progress you have made as well as planned future directions.

3.  Ask your major professor to complete the Student Research Progress Report.

4.  Submit the signed Student Research Progress Report to the graduate coordinator.

MS Thesis and Thesis Defense:

Detailed Procedure:

1.  Obtain the permission of your mentor and graduate committee to begin writing your thesis. This is usually done at an annual committee meeting.

2.  Write your thesis. Please consult the Graduate School’s website for specific thesis requirements at http://grad.wisc.edu/current-students/masters-guide/. For the MS thesis, the graduate committee can request either a traditional thesis or a substantial scientific paper that is suitable for publication.

3.  Schedule your thesis defense.

4. At least four weeks prior to the defense, submit a request for a Masters degree warrant to the graduate program coordinator.

5.  At least two weeks before the defense, submit the title, time, date, location and abstract for your final thesis seminar to the graduate program coordinator.

6.  Your completed thesis should be distributed to all members of your committee a minimum of two weeks prior to your defense date unless you make other arrangements with your committee members. Failure to comply with these rules may result in the cancellation or delay of your scheduled defense.

7.  At your defense, you will need to present your research to the public (approximately a 40 minute talk). This is generally followed by a private oral defense of your thesis research in front of your committee. Your committee will sign the thesis warrant either at the end of the thesis defense or when all thesis requirements are completed.

8.  The signed thesis warrant must be submitted to the Graduate School for your degree to be awarded.

Note that CBMS does not require the Masters thesis to be deposited but the program would appreciate receiving a copy of your thesis.

PhD Degree Program (pre-fall 2014 entry)

Coursework: Register for classes. Choose your coursework in consultation with your major professor. The Graduate School requires a minimum of 32 total credits prior to taking the CBMS prelim B and to graduate (combination of didactic or lab courses, seminars and research).

Required Coursework

Major:

  • 20 didactic credits (9 credits of advanced coursework, or MS/DVM coursework or equivalent, may be transferred as approved by your thesis committee and the Academic Committee).
  • 2 PBS 930 seminar credits/courses
  • 10 (minimum) Research 990 credits

PhD Degree Program (fall or post-fall 2014 entry)

Coursework: Register for classes. Choose your coursework in consultation with your major professor. The Graduate School requires a minimum of 32 total credits prior to taking the CBMS prelim B and 51 credits to graduate (combination of didactic or lab courses, seminars and research).

  • 20 didactic credits. Nine credits of advanced coursework, or MS/DVM coursework or equivalent, may be transferred as approved by your thesis committee and the Academic Committee, provided they are defined as graduate level. Nine credits may be transferred from coursework taken as a Special Student at UW-Madison if the student pays the difference in tuition for the terms in question and the course is numbered 700 and above. A maximum of 7 undergraduate credits may be transferred only from UW-Madison. In all cases, these credits will not count toward the 50% minimum unless courses are graduate level (700 level and above).
  • 2 PBS 930 one-credit student seminar courses.
  • For students who enter fall 2016 or later: PhD students must register for four semesters of Path-Bio 930 and present twice after the first two semesters. One presentation must be completed prior to passing to dissertator status. The second presentation may take place after reaching dissertator status, but no later than the semester prior to the student’s dissertation defense. PhD students will take the course S/U (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) unless they are presenting.
  • 28 Research 990 credits (minimum, unless you take more didactic or laboratory courses)
  • Certification submitted and approved by thesis committee and Academic Committee
  • Pass  preliminary examinations A and B
  • Completed dissertation composed of original work approved by your major professor and committee based on original research, defended before your committee and deposited with the Graduate School.

Minor:

A minor is no longer required but may be completed by students who wish to receive one. The decision to fulfill a minor should be requested at the time of certification (see below). In general, most minors require a minimum of 10 didactic credits in a single degree program (e.g., neuroscience, population health, genetics). Focused minors usually require approval from the related program or department and may involve additional rules or credits. Check with the program in which you have an interest early in the process.

Thesis Committee: You must have a committee to assist and guide you through your graduate career.  A PhD thesis committee is comprised of five members: your major professor, two additional faculty from the CBMS Graduate Program (see trainer list on program website), plus two more from any graduate program on campus.  One member may also be a professor from another institution, a scientist or other person knowledgeable in your field.  Graduate School rules state that at least one member must be from a department other than that of your major professor.  Also see “First Meeting/Certification” below.  The CBMS Academic Committee must approve your committee.

Certification:  Certification consists of preparing a document (available on the web site or from the program coordinator) that details your coursework, research plan and committee make-up that is signed by your committee and approved by the Academic Committee.

You should complete certification by the end of the first year you are enrolled.

First Meeting/Certification

Procedure:

1.  With your major professor, decide which faculty you will ask to be on your graduate committee.  Either you or your major professor should contact other faculty to determine whether they are able or interested in participating in your committee.

2.  At least one month prior to when you would like to have the meeting, contact all members of your committee to schedule a meeting at an appropriate time. Make sure you schedule a meeting room.

3.  Compile the following:

  • Outline of proposed, previous, and proposed coursework
  • List of previous coursework relevant to your current area of research
  • Prepared paperwork required for certification

4.  Distribute a brief description of your proposed research to your committee that outlines your hypothesis and describes the strategy to be used to test the hypothesis. Also, define how each of your committee member’s area of expertise will assist your research program.

5.  Prepare and present a brief oral presentation of your proposed research to your committee at the meeting.

6.  After the meeting, complete the certification form and have it signed by all members of your committee.

7.  Submit the completed, signed form to the graduate program coordinator (room 113 Hanson Building). The form will be submitted to the Academic Committee for approval.

Annual Meetings after certification:  Meet with your thesis committee annually to update and inform them of your progress in your research program, and to discuss any problems and define directions of the research.

Detailed Procedure:

1. Write and distribute an update on your research to your committee prior to the meeting one to two weeks prior to the meeting.

2. At the meeting, present a brief PowerPoint summary of the progress you have made as well as planned future directions.

3. Ask your major professor to complete the Student Research Progress Report.

4. Submit the signed Student Research Progress Report to the program graduate coordinator (room 113 Hanson Building).

Preliminary Examination A:  The purpose of the Prelim A is to assess your background knowledge and comprehension of more advanced topics covered in graduate courses or by independent study.

You should complete Prelim A by the end of the second year you are enrolled.

Detailed Procedure:

1.  Schedule a meeting with your graduate committee.

2.  Two weeks prior to the meeting, your major professor will obtain questions from your graduate committee, usually one per member. The questions will explore your ability to reason, evaluate the data of others, and construct experiments to test hypotheses.

3.  Within one week, answer the questions in an open book manner. Copies of your answers must be distributed to your committee members by the end of that week.

4.  You will have one additional week to study prior to your oral examination. During that time, you should carefully consider the answers you submitted.

5.  At your meeting, you and your committee will discuss those answers and related subjects in an oral examination format.

6.  Your committee will grade your written and oral responses on a scale of 1 – 6. With a score of 3 or greater as passing. Have each of your committee members complete and sign the Preliminary Examination A forms and return the signed forms to the graduate coordinator (room 113 Hanson Building).

Preliminary Examination B:  The purpose of the prelim B is to assess your ability to write a grant proposal related to your research.  Successful completion of prelim B passes you to dissertator status with the Graduate School.

You should complete Prelim B by the end of the third year you are enrolled.

Detailed Procedure:

1.  Schedule a meeting with your graduate committee.

2.  At least four weeks prior to the meeting, submit a request for the Preliminary Examination warrant to the program graduate coordinator.

3.  Write a research proposal in the grant style format agree upon by your graduate committee.  The format must follow the style requirements of the granting agency, e.g., NIH, USDA, or NSF.

4. Submit your research proposal to all members of your graduate committee at least two weeks prior to the meeting.

5. At the meeting, present an oral summary of your research proposal. You will then defend your proposal to your committee. The committee will assign a pass/fail grade to your proposal. Your warrant will be signed if you have earned a passing grade.

6. Submit the signed warrant to the CBMS graduate coordinator to obtain dissertator status.

Checklist for Meeting the Requirements of Dissertator Status

  • Completed CBMS certification.
  • Completed all major requirements: 20 coursework credits and 4 PBS 930 courses (Note: One PBS 930 presentation may take place after reaching dissertator status, but no later than the semester prior to the student’s dissertation defense); except for the final dissertation.
  • Satisfied all Graduate School requirements, which includes 32 credits in residence.
  • Cleared all incompletes, no reports (NR), or grades of “P” in non-research courses.
  • Passed preliminary exams A and B, obtained signatures and turned in a signed copy of the warrant to the program coordinator.
  • Received an e-mail from the graduate school specifically telling you that you have reached dissertator status.

REMINDER:  As a dissertator, you must register for 3 credits each semester to maintain continuous registration.  You must be registered during the semester you earn your degree.

The Final Steps

PhD Thesis and Dissertation Defense:

Procedure:

1.  Obtain the permission of your mentor and graduate committee to begin writing your thesis. This is usually done at an annual committee meeting or six-month prospectus.

2.  Write your dissertation. Please consult the Graduate School’s website for specific thesis requirements.

3. Schedule your final defense.

4. Submit a request for the PhD degree warrant to the program graduate coordinator at least four weeks prior to the defense date.

5.  Your completed thesis should be distributed to all members of your committee a minimum of two weeks prior to your defense date unless you make other arrangements with your committee members. Failure to comply with these rules may result in the cancellation or delay of your scheduled defense.

6.  Submit the title, time, date, location and abstract for your final defense seminar to the program graduate coordinator at least two weeks before the defense date.

7.  At your defense, you will need to present your seminar to the public (approximately a 40 minute talk). This is usually followed by a private oral defense of your thesis research in front of your committee. The committee will sign the final warrant either at the end of the defense or when all thesis requirements are completed.

8. The signed warrant and dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School for your degree to be awarded.

Writing and Publishing the Dissertation

The Graduate School has initiated electronic deposit for dissertations. Details can be found at https://grad.wisc.edu/current-students/doctoral-guide/.

Transcripts, Diploma and Certification of Graduation

Degrees are posted on official transcripts approximately four to six weeks after the end of each session. If you need certification of graduation  (i.e., proof that you have obtained the Ph.D.), visit http://registrar.wisc.edu/degree_certification_letters_acad_rec.htm for details on how to request the letter. All grades must be submitted prior to this request.

Transcripts may be ordered on-line from the Registrar at http://ordertranscript.wisc.edu/or by mailing a transcript request form that you may download from the same site and mail to the address provided.

Diplomas are mailed to student’s home address approximately eight to ten weeks from the end of the semester in which you are awarded the degree.  Your name will appear on your diploma as it is recorded on your official records. (Name changes may be filed with the Registrar, 333 East Campus Mall, #10501.)  A UW degree folder may be picked up at the Registrar’s Office, 333 East Campus Mall, #10501, if you do not attend commencement.  Your diploma will be mailed to the permanent home address you provided at your last registration.  Use the My UW link to update personal information.  International students who need their diploma sent to an address outside of the US must enter their Student Center and check their home address. If you want the diploma mailed to that address, update it to Diploma address. Questions regarding diploma mailing may be addressed to degreeaudit@em.wisc.edu. Details regarding information above can be found at https://registrar.wisc.edu/diploma.

Commencement

All students must apply to graduate and indicate when they plan to complete all degree requirements or attend commencement. The application is available in your Student Center via MyUW. Please refer to http://registrar.wisc.edu/graduation_commencement.htm for details on the above.

Note that you may attend a commencement ceremony before or after you actually finish and complete the degree requirements.

Dual Degrees

A dual degree is a combination MS or PhD and a professional degree. The most common dual degree in Comparative Biomedical Sciences is the DVM/PhD but there are others.  Whether you work on the degrees sequentially or simultaneously, you must complete all requirements for both degrees.

Required Courses

Advanced Research Seminar (Path-Bio 930)

Students entering prior to Fall 2016 are required to regularly participate in a PBS 930 seminar. Students must register for one (MS students) or two semesters (PhD students) of Advanced Seminar PBS 930. The purpose of 930 is to present students with contemporary research in their disciplinary focus, to demonstrate the use of critical thinking skills in order to analyze the latest research observations, and to develop the skills needed to effectively communicate one’s ideas and data to a critical audience of faculty and students.

For students who enter fall 2016 or later: MS students must register for 2 semesters of Path-Bio 930 and present once in their second year. PhD students must register for four semesters of Path-Bio 930 and present twice after the first two semesters. MS and PhD students will take the course S/U (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) unless they are presenting.  For PhD students, one presentation must be completed prior to passing to dissertator status. The second presentation may take place after reaching dissertator status, but no later than the semester prior to the student’s dissertation defense.

Approved Courses

The Graduate School recently determined that graduate coursework is defined as:

  • Any course numbered 700 and above
  • Any outside courses that have been identified as graduate level by the course’s subject owner if numbered 300 – 699.

The following is a list of and recommended core courses have been taken by many students in the past and are appropriate to specific research areas. These courses are suggestions only; you and your committee ultimately decide the best coursework plan for your specific needs.

The CBMS program currently requires that all coursework taken for the major must have a minimum level of 400 to meet course requirements. If you are in doubt, please ask the course instructor or departmental curriculum advisor if any given course is considered graduate level. We expect that the determination of which classes qualify for graduate level to be designated in the course guide beginning spring 2016 by the notation of the letter G.

All courses offered by the four departments in the School of Veterinary Medicine’s DVM program have been identified as graduate level.

Core Courses (chosen by many students in the past for their major didactic course plan)

  • Genet 466: General Genetics
  • Path-Bio 500: Molecular Biology Techniques
  • Path-Bio 773: Eukaryotic Microbial Pathogenesis
  • Biochem 501:Introduction to Biochemistry
  • Biochem 612: Prokaryotic Molecular Biology
  • Biochem 620: Eukaryotic Molecular Biology
  • Biochem 630: Cellular Signal Transduction Mechanisms
  • Zoo 570: Cell Biology
  • Pathol 750: Cell and Molecular Biology/Pathology
  • Pathol 751: Cell and Molecular Biology of Aging
  • Stats 571/572: Statistical Methods for Bioscience I, II

Strongly Recommended Course (required for T32 recipients & RAs supported on NIH grants)

  • Surg Sci 812: Research Ethics and Career Development (fall semester only)
  • Any other science ethics course

Courses from which Students Build their Disciplinary Strength

Epidemiology

  • Path-Bio 512: Introduction to Veterinary Epidemiology
  • Pop Hlth 797: Introduction to Epidemiology
  • Pop Hlth 801: Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases
  • Pop Hlth 802: Advanced Epidemiology: Etiology and Prevention

Physiology

  • An Sci 434: Reproductive Physiology
  • Comp Bio 511: Veterinary Physiology A (fall)
  • Comp Bio 506: Veterinary Physiology B (spring)
  • Zoo 611: Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology
  • Zoo 954: Seminar in Endocrinology-Reproductive Physiology

Infectious Disease and Immunology

  • Path-Bio 773: Eukaryotic Microbial Pathogenesis
  • Path-Bio 510: Veterinary Immunology
  • Path-Bio 513: Veterinary Virology
  • Path-Bio 514: Veterinary Parasitology
  • Path-Bio 517: Veterinary Bacteriology and Mycology
  • Path-Bio 528: Immunology
  • MM&I 701: Infection and Immunity I
  • MM&I 720: Advanced Immunology: Critical Thinking
  • MM&I 740: Mechanisms of Microbial Pathogenesis
  • MM&I 750: Host-Parasite Relationships in Vertebrate Viral Disease
  • MM&I 790: Immunology of Infectious Disease

Neuroscience

  • Comp Bio 505: Veterinary Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology
  • Neurosci 610: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neurosci 611: Systems Neuroscience
  • Neurosci 635: Neurobiology of Disease
  • Zoo 523: Neurobiology I
  • Zoo 524: Neurobiology II: An Introduction to the Brain and Behavior

Toxicology & Pharmacology

  • Comp Bio 555: Veterinary Toxicology
  • Pathol 625: Toxicology I
  • Pathol 626: Toxicology II

Oncology

  • Oncol 675: Topics in Cancer Research (techniques courses)
  • Oncol 703: Carcinogenesis and Tumor Cell Biology

Virology

  • Path-Bio 513: Veterinary Virology
  • Biochem 575: Biology of Viruses
  • Oncol 640: General Virology: Multiplication of Viruses

Performance Standards (Grade Point Average, GPA)

The Graduate School requires that all graduate students maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 (B average) for all graduate course work, excluding research courses, which are graded S, P or U for satisfactory, progress and unsatisfactory, respectively. Students with a lower than 3.0 GPA may not achieve dissertator status and are considered to be on academic probation, which involves monitoring and possible disciplinary action by the Graduate School.

Note that the CBMS program currently requires that you take 400-graduate-level classes and above for approved major coursework. Receipt of grade B (3.0) or better is required to maintain acceptable progress toward the degree.

Please contact the program coordinator if you are placed on academic probation.

Registration

All students are expected to meet with their mentor to finalize their registration.  Entering graduate students who are rotating should speak to the CBMS director for assistance with choosing coursework for the first semester. All registration should be finalized by the end of the first week of classes.

When changing course credits, NEVER exceed a total of 15 credits without prior authorization. You can do this by using the swap function.

PhD and MS supported by a Research Assistantship students must be registered for 8 – 12 graduate level credits (numbered 400 and above) to be considered a full-time student for the fall and spring semesters, and 2 – 12 credits for the summer session.  You must be appointed as a research assistant (RA), teaching assistant (TA) or project assistant (PA) with a minimum of a 33.33% appointment to register for only 2 credits for the summer.  MS and PhD students without support or international students supported by a government scholarship are not required to register for the summer, but note that this may delay time to degree.

Dissertators must register for 3 credits in all semesters.

PLEASE contact the program coordinator if you are unsure of your status or credit requirement.

Course Guide

The actual procedure for course registration is done via the web.  Web enrollment can be accessed through your My UW. You will need your NetID and password to access My UW.

Click on the “Student Center,” which gives you real-time course listings and the availability to register. It also lists many other important links you may need to access or obtain information.

If you encounter any problems registering or interpreting any instructions, feel free to ask the program coordinator or anyone in your departmental office for help.