Feb 27, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2021-2022 
USC Catalogue 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Integrative and Evolutionary Biology (PhD)

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Application deadline: December 15

This program of study is designed to provide each student with a broad, fundamental background in integrative and evolutionary biology (IEB) coupled with detailed knowledge and expertise in the chosen area of concentration. The core of the course work in integrative and evolutionary biology consists of four courses — BISC 515  (4), seminar BISC 549  (2-2) and a 4-unit course to be decided upon by the student’s adviser — that are taken by all first-year graduate students. Various faculty members also teach a variety of advanced courses and seminars on specialized research topics each semester. In addition, a range of courses in areas relating to IEB are available in various departments on the University Park and Health Sciences Campuses.

Course Requirements

Each student’s curriculum is tailored to the particular interests of the individual and the needs and demands of the chosen research field. A minimum total of 60 units is required, consisting of formal courses, seminars and research credit. The 24 units of formal course work must include 12 units of specified course work in integrative and evolutionary biology, BISC 515 , adviser-specified course, seminar BISC 549  (minimum 4 units), and 12 units of advanced electives chosen in consultation with the student’s adviser.

Screening Examination

After completion of the core integrative biology and evolutionary biology course work (BISC 515  , adviserspecified, BISC 549 ) during the first year, the student’s degree progress is discussed and evaluated by a screening committee composed of members of the IEB faculty as well as the student’s principal adviser. The purpose of this written and oral evaluation is to determine competence to continue graduate study and identify areas to be strengthened prior to the qualifying examination.

Student Teaching

Since most graduates in biological sciences will spend some part of their careers in academic work, teaching experience is considered an important part of graduate training. Each graduate student in the program is therefore required to assist in the teaching program for two semesters as a teaching assistant.

Qualifying Examination

By the end of the third semester, students should choose a qualifying exam committee consistent with the requirements of the graduate school composed of IEB faculty and one outside member. This committee will conduct the qualifying exam and provide guidance during dissertation research. The chair of the committee will serve as the principal adviser. Students should consult extensively with each committee member regarding subjects to be covered in the exam.

The qualifying exam consists of written and oral parts. Both parts must be finished before the end of the fifth semester. For the written exam, the adviser will consult with each of the members of the qualifying exam committee. The written part will incorporate evaluation and synthesis of existing knowledge related to topic areas, design of experiment to test a relevant hypothesis, and interpretation of anticipated results. The oral exam consists of an oral defense of the written part and will be conducted within a month of the written part of the qualifying exam.

Doctoral Dissertation

The dissertation is based on original, publishable and significant research conducted independently by the student under the guidance of the dissertation committee.

Defense of the Dissertation

The defense of the dissertation is either a defense oral or a final oral. In most cases a defense oral will suffice if approved by the dissertation committee.

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