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									                             DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY
                                  MS Program in Biology
                 Joint Master’s Degrees in Biology and Information Science
                                 PhD Program in Biology

                    Goals and Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes


The Department of Biology at The Catholic University of America offers graduate programs
leading to the Master of Science in Cell and Microbial Biology, Doctor of Philosophy in Cell and
Microbial Biology, and Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Laboratory Sciences. Our graduate
offerings provide a broad and strong foundation in the basic sciences including molecular
biology, cell biology, and microbiology. Course work provides a knowledge base from which
students engage in original laboratory investigations, as they complete a thesis in the Master’s
program or a dissertation in the Doctoral programs. The Biology graduate programs emphasize
that students develop strong oral and written communication skills in course work and the
laboratory, as well as the ability to think critically about many areas of scientific investigation.
During the process of completing a thesis or dissertation, graduate students will develop
particular areas of expertise associated with their projects. Graduates from the Biology
Department possess the knowledge and skills to design experiments independently and apply
their critical thinking skills to scientific problems outside of their immediate area of expertise.
They are well prepared to secure employment continuing in biological research, such as in
postdoctoral fellowship programs or biotechnology companies, or in areas such as teaching or
administration.

Faculty members in the CUA Biology department engage in cutting-edge basic and applied
research with funding from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and
Department of Defense. They have a strong commitment to mentoring graduate students and are
highly accessible to students during the academic year and summers. Areas of research
concentration include genetic and biochemical analysis of multiple drug resistance, mechanisms
of DNA packaging in bacteriophages and viruses, transcriptional regulation and development in
C. elegans, quorum sensing in Staphylococcus aureus, membrane dynamics and trafficking in
polarized cells, alcohol metabolism in the liver, molecular biology of cancer and metastasis,
structure and function of molecular motors, cellular response to weak electromagnetic fields, and
genetic engineering approaches for epitope presentation and vaccine development.

                     Master of Science in Cellular and Microbial Biology
                                   I. Program Description

The Cell and Microbial Biology Master’s program is a focused and comprehensive program that
trains students in state-of-the-art research to provide them with a solid foundation in basic
biological sciences and exposure to fundamental biological research. The program incorporates a
variety of strategies and assessment criteria to achieve these outcomes. The M.S. program is
rigorous; students must successfully complete 30 semester hours of graduate credit in the various
subfields of cell, micro, and molecular biology and pass a comprehensive examination to earn the
degree. They can do this following one of two tracks toward the M.S. – thesis and non-thesis
options. Students who elect the thesis option typically conduct research for one and half to two
years whereas those electing the non-thesis option conduct research for at least one semester.
For admission into the M.S. program, an applicant must minimally have a bachelor’s degree in
biological sciences. Completion of basic biochemistry and microbiology courses as part of the
undergraduate major are typically pre-requisites. The department does admit students who have
majored in other subjects, e.g. chemistry, and it requires them to take additional biology courses
at the beginning of the program. The chair of the biology department evaluates applications and
makes recommendations for admission in consultation with the biology graduate committee; the
Associate Dean of Graduate Studies makes the final admission decision. Critical components for
admission include: grade point average (GPA) in undergraduate studies, GRE scores, reference
letters, and research experience. Admission is based on overall strong credentials in each of these
areas. There is no minimum GPA or GRE requirement; however, most students admitted into the
program will have a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and GRE scores well above average, for example 600
or greater Quantitative score. Research experience is also desirable. All admitted students are
eligible for teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and tuition scholarships, which are
awarded based on merit.

Course work provides a broad and strong foundation in microbiology, molecular biology, cell
biology, biochemistry, metabolism, and research methodology. Students earn 15 credits in core
courses, 9 credits for elective courses, and either 6 credits for Research Guidance (thesis track) or
a minimum of 3 credits for Research Problems in Biology and 3 credits for an additional elective
(non-thesis track). Core courses include BIOL 727, Methods in Biological Research; BIOL 725,
Research Rotations; BIOL 559, Cell Structure and Function; BIOL 774, Comparative
Metabolism; BIOL 538, Gene Organization and Expression, and a series of specialty research
seminars (BIOL 713, 714, 777, 778).

   BIOL 725, Research Rotations are critical in a small department, even for graduate students
    who have already selected or otherwise committed to a research advisor. The course is
    organized into two-week segments, each of which a student spends assigned to a different
    faculty member and participating in ongoing research experiments and discussions with the
    faculty member, students, and research staff, and attending lab meetings. This experience can
    help students select their thesis advisors; it also builds collegiality by exposing them to all of
    the department’s diverse research areas and the faculty’s techniques and experimental
    approaches.
   The BIOL 713, 714, 777, 778 seminar series focuses on analysis of the literature in the fall
    and a dissertation research seminar presentation in the spring; it provides students with
    opportunities to develop and sharpen their critical thinking and oral presentation skills, which
    are major programmatic goals. Each student receives extensive written feedback from each of
    the faculty who participate in the seminars.
   Students must also attend the non-credit, Weekly Research Seminar series (BIOL 703-704)
    held every Monday, during the academic year, at which the Biology faculty host investigators
    who present seminars on their latest research. The proximity of CUA to several prominent
    research and clinical institutions makes it possible to bring in top researchers in virtually any
    field of cell and molecular biology and clinical laboratory sciences. Presenters have ranged


                                                  2
    from prominent CEOs of local biotechnology companies to Nobel laureates to investigators
    at primarily undergraduate institutions. The diversity and prominence of these speakers
    provide our students with networking opportunities, because they meet with the speakers
    during department-wide luncheons that follow the seminars.

Possible electives are BIOL 540, Mechanisms of Gene Mutation and Transmission; BIOL 563,
Developmental Biology; BIOL 565, Model Organisms and Human Disease; BIOL 566,
Immunology; BIOL 574, Virology; BIOL 584, Mechanisms of Bacterial Pathogenesis; BIOL
560, Emerging and Infectious Diseases; BIOL 598, Membrane Trafficking and Disease, and
BIOL 599, Signal Transduction and Biomembranes. (Students who enter without having met the
two basic pre-requisites in biochemistry and microbiology must complete BIOL 554,
Biochemistry and BIOL 549, General Microbiology, before they can register for graduate-level
core courses. Students may use only one of these courses for elective credits.) With some
restrictions, students may also register for additional, specialized graduate-level courses at NIH
or one or more of the universities in the Washington DC consortium with approval of the major
advisor and department chair. The department considers these requests based on the specific area
of thesis research that the student is pursuing.

The Biology Department is committed to providing opportunities that promote the professional
development of its students as well-rounded, ethical scientists. These include the following:

   Teaching assistantships: During the academic year, financial support through teaching
    assistantships provides graduate students with opportunities to develop their pedagogical
    skills. These are completely open to both MS and PhD students. Teaching assignments are
    typically in laboratory classes with small numbers of students and always under the tutelage
    of a full-time faculty member with primary responsibility for the class.
   Research assistantships: Sponsored research grants fund a majority of the department’s
    research laboratories. In part, this funding provides summer support for graduate students to
    make progress on their dissertation projects. Individual investigators also provide research
    assistantships so students can focus on research during the entire academic year.
   Conference participation: Sponsored research grants and the CUA Graduate Student
    Association can pay for student travel to conferences. The faculty strongly encourages
    graduate students to present their research in periodic national and international professional
    conferences, where they might either give talks or present posters. Almost every student
    presents his/her research in one to several such conferences before graduation. (One only has
    to walk through the department and see all the posters displayed on the walls to know that
    conference participation is highly valued.) Our students also regularly participate in
    conferences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Walter Reed Army Institute of
    Research, Washington Cancer Center, and Johns Hopkins Medical School, and they make
    presentations in the NIH Protein Trafficking Interest Group and the Baltimore-Washington
    Area Worm Club. In these venues, students also hear about the most current research in local
    laboratories and have opportunities to establish collaborations with other local investigators.
   Publications: Top-tier journals publish research performed in the Biology Department as
    peer-reviewed articles. The faculty encourages graduate students to participate in every stage
    of manuscript preparation from composing figures to writing and editing. Students are


                                                 3
    usually the first authors on these articles, which promotes their building impressive
    curriculum vitae for the next stages of their careers.
   Responsible conduct of research: Our graduate students attend an annual seminar that deals
    with ethics and conduct in research, and which trains them to conduct their research in a
    responsible manner. We have had speakers from the Office of Research Integrity at the NIH,
    as well as faculty presentations, on authorship issues, data presentation, plagiarism, and
    sample management. These are further re-enforced in one-on-one meetings and discussions
    with the thesis advisor.
   Graduate Student Research Symposium: Annually, our department invites alumni and the
    university community for an all-day research symposium that highlights our students’
    accomplishments in oral and poster presentations. Alumni participate directly by providing
    career advice through either a panel or round table discussions. Recent symposium keynote
    lectures featured prominent NIH directors from the National Institute of Allergy and
    Infectious Diseases and the National Cancer Institute. Several hundred CUA students and
    guests attended the lectures. One of these lectures was broadcast on C-SPAN.
   Representation on governing bodies and committees: Each semester, one of the students
    represents biology graduate students in the Graduate Student Association. In addition, one of
    our graduate students is currently the student member of the university’s Middle States Task
    Force. We always include student participation in our faculty search committees. Students
    meet with the candidates and attend their job seminars; they nominate a representative to
    gather and share their feedback for faculty consideration before a faculty vote is taken on the
    candidates.

Among several career paths, graduates of the M.S. program may enter a doctoral program at
CUA or elsewhere with the possibility of transferring many of their credits, work as researchers
in biotechnology companies or government agencies, or become science educators. Recent
graduates have been employed in all of these areas.


                                 II. Goals for Student Learning

Students who graduate with a Master of Science in Cellular and Microbial Biology will:

1. Demonstrate a broad, thorough understanding of cell biology, molecular biology, microbial
   biology, metabolism, and modern methodology and technology for addressing biological
   questions.
2. Exhibit professional-level knowledge and skill as effective writers who can communicate
   complicated biological information clearly and concisely.
3. Display professional-level skill as effective oral communicators of potentially complex
   scientific topics with the specific knowledge to analyze and respond intelligently to audience
   inquiry in a classroom or seminar situation.
4. Develop, through active participation in faculty-mentored biological research projects, an
   understanding of how to develop hypotheses, and experimental approaches to answering
   them.



                                                 4
5. Understand the importance of professional-level ethical standards in the conduct of their
   work.
6. Form effective teaching skills through examination of the evaluations their own and other
   students’ presentations in the specialty seminar courses, and through faculty mentoring of
   those students who serve as departmental Teaching Assistants.

                          III. Student Assessment Outcome Measures

1. Admission: For admission into the M.S. program, applicants should have a bachelor’s degree
   in biological sciences. Completion of basic biochemistry and microbiology courses, as part of
   the undergraduate major, and some research experience are also desirable. When the
   department admits students who have majored in other subjects, e.g. chemistry, it requires
   them to take additional biology courses at the beginning of their graduate programs.
2. Course work: Students must maintain a 3.0 average with no more than 6 credit hours of C
   grades to earn the M.S. The faculty review all C grades at the end of each semester. A
   student, who earns a total of 3 credit hours of C grades or whose GPA in any given semester
   falls below a 3.0, is placed on probation and closely monitored. The faculty discusses each
   case in the monthly faculty meetings, and the respective major professor meets with the
   student to relay all faculty recommendations. The faculty advisor, or a designated faculty
   member, provides counseling to the student on strategies to succeed in course work, as well
   as any other assistance that the student may need. A student is subject to dismissal, if the
   GPA is below 3.0 for two consecutive semesters or s/he earns more than 6 credit hours of C
   grades. Students who receive one grade of F are also subject to dismissal. The faculty vote on
   dismissal decisions.
3. Participation in original research that addresses an important biological problem: Progress
   will be assessed through seminar presentations, thesis committee meetings, and regular
   review of research progress through meetings with the major professor. Assessments include
   making sure that the student understands the basic features of the problem being explored and
   the hypotheses and experimental methods required to make progress in the work, that logical
   and consistent effort is being made to explore the problem, and that the student is
   contributing actively in thinking critically about the research approach.
4. M.S. Comprehensive Examination: Students become eligible to take their comprehensive
   examinations during the semester in which they complete their course work. A committee of
   three biology faculty members, the composition of which is recommended by each student’s
   faculty advisor (after consultation with the student, and based on his/her course work and
   research interests), develops each exam to test knowledge of cellular and microbial biology
   and of information specifically relevant to the student’s thesis research project. Each
   committee member submits one major question or a set of smaller questions. The student has
   a 3-hour time period to complete each committee member’s question/s. Students who are
   enrolled in the non-thesis M.S. track will receive a question set focused on assessment of
   their overall knowledge in cell and microbial biology. Students should develop analytical
   and systematic approaches to address each question. Evaluation criteria include the
   following: (a) awareness of current literature, as well as significant historical developments in
   the major field; (b) theoretical (reasoning) competence; (c) factual, practical and
   methodological competence; (d) breadth and depth of knowledge; (e) conceptual


                                                 5
   understanding, and (f) synthesis and clarity of answers. Committee members individually
   grade these exams. The committee convenes to reach consensus if questions arise on meeting
   the standards for passing. If a failing grade is awarded, the student may sit for the written
   comprehensive examination one additional, and final, time. A student who twice fails the
   written comprehensive examination – even one question – is not eligible for admission to
   candidacy for the M.S. degree. Admission to Candidacy. After passing their comprehensive
   examinations, students in both the thesis and non-thesis M.S. programs apply for admission
   to candidacy. The faculty considers student’s credentials with regard to course work, grades,
   and performance in the comprehensive exam as important criteria for admission to candidacy.
5. (Thesis track only) Topic approval examination: The Topic Approval examination should be
   scheduled as soon as possible after the successful completion of the written Comprehensive
   Examination. University requirements stipulate that submission of a thesis proposal, which
   is contingent upon this process, must be submitted no later than the semester prior to the
   submission of the actual thesis. All M.S. students must obtain approval for a thesis topic
   committee in the second year of the program. Each student and his/her faculty advisor select
   at least three committee members (at least 2 in biology) based on the proposed research. The
   faculty votes on the committee’s composition at a faculty meeting.
   (a) Each M.S. student meets with his /her Topic Approval Committee, which evaluates
        his/her, general knowledge of methodology and aptitude for scientific research. The
        examination consists of a brief (approx. 30 min) presentation of the research proposal by
        the student, followed by discussion, questions, and suggestions from the committee. This
        process typically lasts 1.5 to 2 hours. This examination also provides a forum for
        discussion of the research proposal, and alternative approaches, and establishes a support
        network for the research experience. Following this evaluation, the committee can: (1)
        recommend approval of the proposed research topic to the Biology Faculty for
        consideration at the next regular scheduled faculty meeting; (b) recommend approval with
        appropriate modifications; or (c) request that the student correct weaknesses in the
        proposal and reschedule another evaluation process. The faculty vote on topic approval
        during a regular faculty meeting and forward the topic approval document and an
        accompanying application to the Dean of Graduate Studies.
6. (Thesis track only) Thesis Approval: The Master’s candidate must complete all degree
   requirements within three years after the date of completion of course work or request an
   extension, usually not to exceed one year, which the dean must approve.
   (a) Based on the topic approval examination and the student’s research focus, the major
        advisor proposes a Thesis Committee to the Biology Faculty for approval. (This
        committee, normally comprised of the members of the Topic Approval Committee, has a
        minimum three members, at least two of whom must be faculty in the Biology
        Department.) The Thesis Committee is responsible for providing research guidance to the
        student. Its members also ensure that the student adheres to the approved research plan,
        and they read and critically evaluate the thesis.
7. When the major thesis advisor and student determine that thesis research is reaching a
   completion stage, the student meets with committee members individually to apprise them of
   progress and the intention to prepare the written document. Together, the whole committee
   evaluates the work to determine its acceptability as a completed thesis. The student then
   writes the thesis document in a lucid, concise manner in consultation with the major advisor.


                                                6
   The student submits the draft to the remaining committee members, who make constructive
   comments and determine whether they will provide their approval signatures. Following
   approval of the thesis by the thesis committee, the committee members sign a final thesis
   copy that is submitted to the office of the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, School of
   Arts and Sciences.


                       IV. Use of Results to Improve Student Learning


1. At every stage of our student assessment process, the department chair or appropriate
   committee chairperson reports the results back to the faculty as a whole during monthly
   faculty meetings. The faculty often uses this examination of results to develop individual
   plans to address student deficiencies and make changes in program structure and assessment
   criteria to enhance student learning.
2. In the process of examining assessments, the faculty can direct particular issues to one of
   three standing faculty committees: the Biology Policy Committee, the Biology Curriculum
   Committee, or the Biology Enhancement Committee. Committees then discuss the relevant
   issues, reach a consensus, and make recommendations to the entire faculty for a vote.
3. As part of the implementation, the faculty communicates program changes to students and
   incorporates them into the Biology Graduate Handbook, which is publicly accessible through
   the Department’s website.
4. The department continues to implement new indirect measures of student assessment, the
   results of which will help us increase the effectiveness of our program, e.g., an online alumni
   survey that will generate statistically interpretable data might indicate areas in which the
   department can further improve to enhance student learning. Implementation will involve
   discussion and recommendation from the appropriate faculty committee(s), and a majority
   vote by the entire faculty at a monthly faculty meeting.
5. Graduate students enrolled in 500-level courses complete the University’s standard course
   evaluation process at the end of each semester. For 600- and 700-level courses the
   department conducts its own course evaluation procedure. All course evaluations are
   reviewed by the department chair, and by the instructor for each course. If changes in the
   structure of a given course are deemed necessary by either, action is taken.

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                                                7
                 Joint Masters Degrees in Biology and Information Science
                                 I. Program Description

Students enrolled in the joint Masters program in Library and Information Science and Biology
must complete a minimum of 24 credits in the biology department and at least 30 credits in
library and information science. Otherwise, the course and evaluation requirements, including the
comprehensive exam requirement, are identical to those of the regular M.S. Biology program.

                                             *****




                                                8
                      Doctor of Philosophy in Cell and Microbial Biology
                                    I. Program Description

The Department of Biology’s doctoral program in Cell and Microbial Biology is focused and
comprehensive; it provides rigorous training in state-of-the-art research that enables students to
become analytical researchers, creative problem solvers, and effective teachers. The program
incorporates a variety of strategies and assessment criteria to achieve these outcomes. Students
must successfully complete 53 graduate course credits in various subfields of cell, micro, and
molecular biology, pass comprehensive oral and written examinations, conduct and write up
original dissertation research and defend a dissertation to earn the Ph.D. Course work provides a
broad and strong foundation in microbiology, molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry,
developmental biology, genetics, and virology. The program’s flexible approach accommodates a
core group of full-time graduate students, as well as part-time students who conduct research in
area research institutions that lack formal graduate programs, such as the National Institutes of
Health (NIH) and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR).

Admission into the doctoral program in Cell and Microbial Biology requires at least a Bachelor’s
degree in biological sciences, however, most admitted students have a Master’s Degree and/or
post-baccalaureate research experience. The program does admit students who have majored in
other subjects, e.g. chemistry, with the understanding that they will take additional biology
courses at the beginning of the program. The chair of the biology department evaluates
applications and makes recommendations for admission in consultation with the biology graduate
committee. The Associate Dean of Graduate Studies makes the final decision. Critical
components for admission include: grade point average (GPA) in undergraduate studies, GRE
scores, reference letters, and research experience. Admission is based on overall strong
credentials in each of these areas. There is no minimum GPA or GRE requirement; however,
most students admitted into the program will have a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and GRE scores well
above average, for example 600 or greater Quantitative score. Research experience is
particularly desirable for admission into the Ph.D. program. All admitted students are eligible for
teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and tuition scholarships, which are awarded
based on merit.

Of the 53 credit hours students complete to earn the Ph.D. degree, 20 credits are for core courses,
27 credits for elective courses, and six credits for the dissertation. Core courses establish a strong
foundation in the key areas of the Cell and Microbial Biology program: biochemistry, cell
biology, genetics, and molecular biology. Students, who did not complete basic biochemistry and
microbiology courses as undergraduates, take Biochemistry (BIOL 554) and General
Microbiology (BIOL 549) before they can register for graduate level core courses. (Students may
elect to apply the credits from one of these courses toward their elective requirement.) Core
courses are the following: BIOL 727, Methods in Biological Research; BIOL 725, Research
Rotations; BIOL 559, Cell Structure and Function; BIOL 774, Comparative Metabolism; BIOL
538, Gene Organization and Expression; BIOL 586, Molecular Genetics and Recombinant DNA
and a series of micro- and cell biology research seminars (BIOL 713, 714, 777 and 778).


                                                  9
   The Research Rotations course (Biol 725) is a critical element in a small department. All
    students, even those who have already selected or otherwise committed to a specific research
    advisor, must participate in Research Rotations. The course is organized into two-week
    segments, each of which a student spends assigned to a different faculty member,
    participating in ongoing research experiments and discussions with the faculty member,
    students, and research staff, and attending lab meetings. This experience can help students
    select their dissertation advisors; it also builds collegiality by exposing them to all of the
    department’s diverse research areas and the faculty’s experimental techniques and
    approaches.
   The BIOL 713, 714, 777, 778 seminar series focuses on analysis of the scientific literature in
    the fall semester and a dissertation research seminar presentation in the spring semester. It
    provides students with opportunities to develop and sharpen their critical thinking and oral
    presentation skills, which are major programmatic goals. Each student receives extensive
    written feedback from all four of the faculty who participate in each of the seminars.
   Students must also attend the non-credit, Weekly Research Seminar series (BIOL 703-704)
    held every Monday during the academic year, when the Biology faculty hosts investigators
    who present seminars on their latest research. The proximity of CUA to several prominent
    research and clinical institutions makes it possible to bring in top researchers in virtually any
    field of cell and molecular biology, and clinical laboratory sciences. Presenters have ranged
    from prominent CEOs of local biotechnology companies to Nobel laureates to investigators
    at primarily undergraduate institutions. The diversity and prominence of these speakers
    provide our students with networking opportunities, because they meet with the speakers
    during department-wide luncheons that follow the seminars.

To delineate an area of expertise, students select their electives from the following list in
consultation with the major advisor: BIOL 540, Mechanisms of Gene Mutation and
Transmission; BIOL 563, Developmental Biology; BIOL 565, Model Organisms and Human
Disease; BIOL 566, Immunology; BIOL 765, Research Topics in Biology I; BIOL 766, Research
Topics in Biology II; BIOL 771, Research Problems in Biology I; BIOL 772, Research Problems
in Biology II; BIOL 574, Virology; BIOL 584, Mechanisms of Bacterial Pathogenesis; BIOL 560,
Emerging and Infectious Diseases; BIOL 598, Membrane Trafficking and Disease or BIOL 599,
Signal Transduction and Biomembranes. Students may take either BIOL 765 or BIOL 766 twice
for credit, and they may earn only a maximum 12 credit hours in Research Topics and Research
Problems, six of which may be related to the dissertation research.

Some graduate coursework for the Ph.D. may be completed at institutions other than CUA.
Students may apply to take specialized, graduate-level coursework through the Washington DC
Consortium of Universities with approval of the department chair, and of the Dean of the School
of Arts and Sciences. Specialized, graduate-level courses may also be taken through the FAES
program at the National Institutes of Health. These courses must fill a specific purpose in the
student’s program, and require approval of the Biology faculty. Courses taken at the National
Institutes of Health are treated as transfer credits, and so must comply with the regulations for
transfer of graduate-course credits from any institution that is not part of the Washington DC
Consortium of Universities. The following limitations on transfer credits apply: (a) a maximum


                                                 10
of 24 credit hours (of grade B or higher) may be transferred to apply toward the Ph.D. degree; (b)
a student who applies more than 6 transfer credits toward the Ph.D. may complete no more than 5
additional transfer credits outside of CUA; (c) a student who applies 6 or fewer transfer credits
toward the Ph.D. may complete no more than 12 additional transfer credits outside of CUA.

 The Biology Department is committed to providing opportunities that promote the professional
development of its students as well-rounded, ethical scientists. These include the following:
 Teaching assistantships: During the academic year, financial support through teaching
   assistantships provides graduate students with opportunities to develop their pedagogical
   skills. Teaching assignments are typically in laboratory classes with small numbers of
   students and always under the tutelage of a full-time faculty member with primary
   responsibility for the class.
 Research assistantships: Sponsored research grants fund a majority of the department’s
   research laboratories. In part, this funding provides summer support for graduate students to
   make progress on their dissertation projects. Individual investigators also provide research
   assistantships so students can focus on research during the entire academic year.
 Conference participation: Sponsored research grants and the CUA Graduate Student
   Association can pay for student travel to conferences. The faculty strongly encourages
   graduate students to present their research in periodic, national and international professional
   conferences, where they might either give talks or present posters. Almost every student
   presents his/her research in several such conferences before graduation. (One only has to
   walk through the department and see all the posters displayed on the walls to know that
   conference participation is highly valued.) Our students also regularly participate in
   conferences at the National Institutes of Health, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research,
   Washington Cancer Center, and Johns Hopkins Medical School, and they make presentations
   at the NIH Protein Trafficking Interest Group and the Baltimore-Washington Area Worm
   Club. In these venues, students also hear about the most current research in local laboratories
   and have opportunities to establish collaborations with other local investigators.
 Publications: Top-tier journals publish research performed in the Biology Department as
   peer-reviewed articles. The faculty encourages graduate students to participate in every stage
   of manuscript preparation from composing figures to writing and editing. Students are
   usually the first authors on these articles, which promotes their building impressive
   curriculum vitae for the next stages of their careers.
 Responsible conduct of research: Our graduate students attend an annual seminar that deals
   with ethics and conduct in research that trains them to conduct their research in a responsible
   manner. We have had speakers from the Office of Research Integrity at the NIH, as well as
   faculty presentations, on authorship issues, data presentation, plagiarism, and sample
   management. These are further re-enforced in one-on-one meetings and discussions with the
   thesis advisor.
 Graduate Student Research Symposium: Annually, our department invites alumni and the
   university community for an all-day research symposium that highlights our students’
   accomplishments in oral and poster presentations. Alumni participate directly by providing
   career advice through either a panel or round table discussions. Recent symposium keynote
   lectures featured prominent NIH directors from the National Institute of Allergy and



                                                11
    Infectious Diseases and the National Cancer Institute. Several hundred CUA students and
    guests attended the lectures. One of these lectures was broadcast on C-SPAN.
   Representation on governing bodies and committees: Each semester, one of the students
    represents biology graduate students in the Graduate Student Association. In addition, one of
    our graduate students is currently the student member of the university’s Middle States Task
    Force. The Department of Biology always includes student input to our faculty search
    committees. Students meet with the candidates and attend their job seminars; they nominate a
    representative to gather and share their feedback for the faculty’s consideration when they
    vote on the candidates.

Among several career paths, graduates of the program might become professors in large
universities or medical schools, typically after completing a postdoctoral fellowship; research-
oriented teachers driving undergraduate research in a four-year college; scientists in a
biotechnology company or government research institution, or science policy analysts or
administrators in government or industry. Recent graduates have been employed in all of these
areas.

                                 II. Goals for Student Learning

Students who graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy in Cell and Microbial Biology will:
1. Demonstrate broad, thorough understanding of cell biology, molecular biology, microbial
   biology, genetics, metabolism, and modern methodology and technology for addressing
   biological questions.
2. Exhibit professional-level knowledge and skill as effective writers who can communicate
   complicated biological information clearly and concisely.
3. Display professional-level skill as effective oral communicators of potentially complex
   scientific topics with the specific knowledge to analyze and respond intelligently to audience
   inquiry in a classroom or seminar situation.
4. Demonstrate teaching skills that include the ability to convey complex information in a well
   organized and understandable manner, and to provide lucid, comprehensive answers to
   student questions.
5. Demonstrate a standard of conduct consistent with the ethical standards in which CUA
   graduate students receive annual training.


                           III. Student Assessment Outcome Measures

1. Admission: Applicants should have at least a Bachelor’s degree in biological sciences;
   however, most admitted students have Master’s Degrees and/or post-baccalaureate research
   experience. When the department admits students who have majored in other subjects, e.g.
   chemistry, it requires them to take additional biology courses at the beginning of their
   graduate programs.
2. Graduate Advising: Entering graduate students receive academic advising from the
   department chair until they select a major professor, who then assumes that role.




                                                12
3. Course work: Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 average with a maximum of six credit
   hours of C grades. The faculty reviews all C grades at the end of each semester. Any student,
   who earns a total of three credit hours of C grades, or whose GPA falls below a 3.0 in any
   given semester, is placed on probation and closely monitored. The faculty discusses each
   such case in a faculty meeting, and the respective major professor meets with the student to
   pass on any faculty recommendations. A student is subject to dismissal, if his/her GPA is
   below 3.0 for two consecutive semesters or s/he earns more than six credit hours of C grades.
   Students who receive one grade of F are also subject to dismissal. The faculty votes on
   dismissal decisions.
4. Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations: Students are eligible to take their preliminary oral and
   final written comprehensive examinations after having completed 35 credit hours (or during
   the semester in which they will complete 35 credits). The same faculty committee prepares,
   administers and evaluates both exams. The comprehensive committee consists of 3 or 4
   biology faculty members, selected according to the completed course work and research
   interests of each student and on the recommendation of the student’s faculty advisor (after
   consultation with the student). The student presents the department chair with a list of
   completed courses and grades, and the faculty approve the committee’s composition at a
   faculty meeting.
   (a) Qualifying Oral Examination: Students take the qualifying oral examination, which the
       committee administers to determine readiness for the written examination, at least three
       weeks before the written exam. During this oral exam, students respond to questions,
       which each committee member asks in turn. (Students can use a chalkboard as a
       pedagogical tool in their responses.) Questions focus mainly on, but are not strictly
       limited to, course work and potential dissertation topics. The oral exam typically lasts for
       1.5-2 hours. Evaluation criteria are the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the
       responses. If all of the members of the committee agree that a student’s performance
       indicates sufficient mastery to pass a subsequent written examination, they recommend
       proceeding to the written portion. If all members of the committee are not in agreement,
       there is discussion to arrive on a consensus opinion. For a deficiency in one topic, the
       committee recommends concentrating on that area in preparation for the written
       examination. Deficiencies in more than one topic lead to a recommendation to repeat the
       oral exam in the next semester. There is no specific limit to the number of times a student
       may sit for the qualifying oral examination.
   (b) Written Comprehensive Examination: Ph.D. students must successfully pass a written
       comprehensive examination testing their knowledge of cellular, microbial, and molecular
       biology and their area of research concentration. The content of a particular examination
       is not strictly confined to material covered in the courses a student has taken, although
       committee members do take into account the orientation of a student’s program. Each
       member of the committee will submit one or more questions; the student is allowed a 3
       hour period in which to write the answer(s) for each member’s question(s). The faculty
       expect students to take an analytical and systematic approach to answering each question.
       Evaluation criteria include the following: (1) awareness of current literature, as well as
       significant historical developments in the major field; (2) theoretical (reasoning)
       competence; (3) factual, practical and methodological competence; (4) breadth and depth
       of knowledge; (5) conceptual understanding, and (6) synthesis and clarity of answers.


                                                13
       Committee members grade exams individually; they convene as a full committee to reach
       consensus. If each of the committee members is satisfied with the answer to his/her
       question, the student has passed the written comprehensive exam. If all but one question
       are judged to be competently answered, the student receives passing credit for the three
       satisfactory answers. At the next scheduled date for the comprehensive exam, however,
       the student must sit for a new question submitted by the committee member whose
       question was not passed previously. A student who fails to receive a passing grade on
       two or more questions is judged to have failed the entire written comprehensive exam,
       and must re-take the exam in its entirety. A student who twice fails the written
       comprehensive examination is not eligible for admission to candidacy for the doctoral
       degree.
   (c) Admission to Candidacy: After passing their comprehensive examinations, students
       apply for admission to candidacy. Important criteria for candidacy include: (a) course
       work, (b) grades, (c) performance in the comprehensive exam, and (d) demonstrated
       progress on laboratory research. The department chair presents a student’s application
       along with a list of completed courses and course grades at a faculty meeting, and the
       faculty vote on the candidacy.
5. Dissertation Research Topic Approval Examination:
   (a) Students secure approval of a Dissertation Topic Committee in their second year in the
       program. A student and his/her faculty advisor select at least two additional biology
       faculty members based on the proposed research. (Committees can include additional
       external committee members, depending on the research focus and whether the student is
       part-time and has an off-campus advisor.) The faculty vote on committee composition at
       a faculty meeting.
   (b) Each doctoral student meets with his/her committee at least once a year to present a
       progress report on the dissertation research. During these meetings, committee members
       assess whether the student is advancing sufficiently on the project’s goals, whether the
       original hypothesis remains valid or requires modification, and consider the future
       directions the research should take. Based on these annual discussions, each student
       writes a final dissertation research topic proposal once s/he has established a clear plan
       for the major experiments and investigative directions of the dissertation. The committee
       assesses the topic proposal in an oral examination, typically of 1-2 hours duration.
       Evaluation criteria include: (1) completeness, (2) feasibility and (3) the significance of the
       work and its contributions to important biological questions. The committee also
       discusses various aspects of the proposal, such as the student’s (4) awareness of
       background research and relevant literature, (5) methodology, (6) alternative approaches,
       (7) methods of data analysis, (8) writing clarity, and (9) general rationale for the aims of
       the research. Following this evaluation, the committee can: (1) recommend approval of
       the proposed research, as is, to the Biology Faculty at the next regular scheduled faculty
       meeting, (2) recommend approval of the proposed research topic with appropriate
       modifications in approach and/or written presentation, or (3) ask the student to correct
       weaknesses in the proposal and reschedule another evaluation process. The faculty votes
       on the topic approval during a regular faculty meeting and then forwards the approval
       document and an accompanying application to the Dean of Graduate Studies for external
       review by a faculty member in another department. If changes are requested by that


                                                 14
       faculty reviewer, the candidate incorporates comments from the external review and
       submits a final research topic proposal to the graduate office.

8. Dissertation approval:
   (a) Based on the topic approval examination and the candidate’s research focus, the major
        advisor proposes a Dissertation Committee to the Biology Faculty for approval. This
        committee, typically comprised of the members of the Topic Approval Committee, must
        consist of a minimum of three members, at least two of whom must be CUA Biology
        Faculty members.
   (b) The Dissertation Committee guides the candidate during his/her dissertation work and
        holds periodic meetings, at least once a year, to monitor progress. The committee is also
        responsible for ensuring that the candidate adheres to the approved research plan, reading
        and critically evaluating the dissertation, and participating in the dissertation defense.
   (c) When the major advisor and candidate determine that the experiments are near
        completion, the candidate meets with committee members individually to apprise them of
        the intention to prepare the written dissertation. Together, the whole committee evaluates
        the completed research to determine its acceptability as a dissertation. The student then
        writes the dissertation document in a lucid, concise manner in consultation with the major
        advisor and submits it to the remaining committee members, who make constructive
        comments and decide whether to provide their approval signatures so that the candidate
        can proceed to the oral defense.
9. Oral Dissertation defense: Before the dissertation’s final approval, the candidate must defend
   it in an oral examination in the presence of an examination board, which the academic dean
   of the school appoints with the approval of the Assistant Academic Vice President for
   Graduate Programs and Research Centers. Before scheduling the defense, members of the
   candidate’s dissertation committee must go to the Dean's Office to sign a form indicating that
   they have read the dissertation and believe the candidate is ready for the defense. The Dean’s
   office then selects an external chair and secretary to conduct the defense examination. This
   examination consists of two parts – a public seminar and a closed session – that together do
   not last more than between two and two-and-a-half hours. The public seminar is a formal
   presentation, given in a manner consistent with research seminars in the field; it lasts about
   40 minutes. The public seminar is intended to provide a public forum for presentation of the
   results of the dissertation research, and to set the stage for the closed session that will follow.
   The closed session with the Oral Examination Committee begins immediately following the
   public seminar. Evaluation criteria are: (a) the content of the original research, (b) the
   candidate’s mastery of the literature and status of the field, (c) the candidate’s ability to
   articulate the significance of the findings, and (d) the candidate’s capability in discussing
   future directions to which the research might apply. Candidates who meet these criteria pass
   the examination; those who do so with an incredibly strong command in all areas pass with
   distinction (typically, fewer than 10% of students), and those who are unable to meet the
   criteria fail. Each member of the committee has one vote. The candidate must receive a Pass
   vote from all but one examiner to pass. Committees cannot pass candidates conditionally.
   Candidates who fail the oral defense can obtain permission from the school to retake it after
   at least one semester has elapsed. Candidates who fail a second time cease to be candidates
   for the doctoral degree.


                                                  15
10. Deposit of dissertation: After passing the oral defense, the candidate completes the written
    dissertation to the satisfaction of each committee member to obtain the appropriate
    signatures. Then, the candidate deposits the dissertation with the University as the final
    component of earning the Ph.D.

                       IV. Use of Results to Improve Student Learning

1. At every stage of our student assessment process, the department chair, or appropriate
   committee chairperson, reports the results back to the faculty as a whole during monthly
   faculty meetings. The faculty often uses this examination of results to develop, through
   collective discussion and negotiation, individual plans to address student deficiencies and
   make changes in program structure and assessment criteria to enhance student learning.
2. In the process of examining assessments, the faculty can direct particular issues to one of
   three standing faculty committees: the Biology Policy Committee, the Biology Curriculum
   Committee, or the Biology Enhancement Committee. Committees then discuss the relevant
   issues, reach a consensus, and make recommendations to the entire faculty for a vote.
3. As part of implementation, the faculty communicates program changes to students and
   incorporate them into the Biology Graduate Handbook, which is publicly accessible through
   the Biology Department’s website.
4. The department continues to implement new, indirect measures of student assessment, the
   results of which will help us increase the effectiveness of our program: e.g., an online alumni
   survey that will generate statistically interpretable data might indicate areas in which the
   department can further improve to enhance student learning. Implementation will involve
   discussion and recommendation from the appropriate faculty committee(s), and a majority
   vote by the faculty at a monthly faculty meeting.
5. Graduate students enrolled in 500-level courses complete the University’s standard, course
   evaluation process at the end of each semester. For 600- and 700-level courses the
   department conducts its own course evaluation procedure. All course evaluations are
   reviewed by the department chair, and by the instructor for each course. If changes in the
   structure of a given course are deemed necessary by either, action is taken.

                                              *****




                                                16
                     Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Laboratory Science
                                   I. Program Description

The Clinical Laboratory Science doctoral program provides rigorous training to graduates who
assume positions as directors of clinical laboratories, analytical researchers, creative problem
solvers, and effective teachers. The program incorporates a variety of strategies and assessment
criteria to achieve these outcomes. Students first receive a broad background in basic sciences,
biomolecular sciences, and clinical laboratory sciences, and then proceed to specialize in clinical
chemistry, clinical microbiology, or clinical immunology. The degree requires a total of 53
graduate course credits distributed across these areas. The program is flexible; it accommodates
full-time graduate study, as well as part-time arrangements for students, who conduct research or
work as medical technologists at local hospitals. Ph.D. students in Clinical Laboratory Science
may complete their dissertation research in CUA’s Department of Biology or one of the affiliated
research hospitals, including Children’s National Medical Center, the George Washington
University Medical Center, and Washington Hospital Center. Faculty members in the
department’s affiliated clinical institutions are premiere clinicians. Their research interests range
from the use of tandem mass spectrometry to diagnose disease, to development of laboratory
tests for detection of endocrine disorders and renal problems, to the molecular epidemiology of
multi-drug resistant organisms.

Applicants to the doctoral program in Clinical Laboratory Science must be certified medical
technologists with at least two years experience in the clinical laboratory. Critical components for
admission include: grade point average (GPA) in undergraduate studies, GRE scores, reference
letters, and research experience. Admission is based on overall strong credentials in each of these
areas. There is no minimum GPA or GRE requirement; however, most students admitted into the
program will have a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and GRE scores well above average, for example 600
or greater Quantitative score. Research experience is particularly desirable for admission into the
Ph. D. program. All admitted students are eligible for teaching assistantships, research
assistantships, and tuition scholarships, which are awarded based on merit.

Since students who enter the Clinical Laboratory Science program have varied backgrounds and
career paths, the department individualizes each student’s course of study following an
evaluation of his/her background, experience, future area of specialization and career path(s) of
interest. Course work might include a combination of biology courses, non-biology courses (e.g.,
management), and off-campus consortium courses with a clinical laboratory emphasis. The
director of the Clinical Laboratory Program plays a significant advisory role in this process in
addition to the major professor and faculty discussion to approve course selections.

Of the 53 credits required to complete this Ph.D. degree, students earn 20 credits for core
courses, 27 credits for elective courses, and 6 credits for the dissertation. Core courses establish a
strong foundation in biochemistry, cell biology, genetics and molecular biology, subjects
augmented by advanced courses in the various disciplines of Clinical Laboratory Science. They
include: BIOL 727, Methods in Biological Research; BIOL 725, Research Rotations); BIOL 559,
Cell Structure and Function; BIOL 774, Comparative Metabolism; BIOL 538, Gene Organization
and Expression; BIOL 586, Molecular Genetics and Recombinant DNA; BIOL 713, 714, 777 and



                                                 17
778, Specialty Seminars. (An entering student who did not complete biochemistry or
microbiology as an undergraduate must take General Microbiology [BIOL 549, 4 credits, or an
equivalent course from another institution] and Biochemistry [BIOL 554, 3 credits, or an
equivalent course from another institution] and may use only one of these courses toward elective
credits.)

   The Research Rotations course (Biol 725) is a critical element in a small department. All
    students, even those who have who have already selected or otherwise committed to a
    specific research advisor, must participate in Research Rotations. The course is organized
    into two-week segments, each of which a student spends assigned to a different faculty
    member and participating in ongoing research experiments and discussions with the faculty
    member, students, and research staff, and attending lab meetings. This experience can help
    students select their dissertation advisors; it also builds collegiality by exposing them to all of
    the department’s diverse research areas and the faculty’s experimental techniques and
    approaches.
   The BIOL 713, 714, 777, 778 seminar series focuses on analysis of the literature in the fall
    and a dissertation research seminar presentation in the spring. It provides students with
    opportunities to develop and sharpen their critical thinking and oral presentation skills, which
    are major programmatic goals. Each student receives extensive written feedback from all four
    of the faculty who participate in each of the seminars.
   Students must also attend the non-credit, Weekly Research Seminar series (BIOL 703-704)
    held every Monday during the academic year, when the Biology faculty hosts investigators to
    present seminars on their latest research. The proximity of CUA to several prominent
    research and clinical institutions makes it possible to bring in top researchers in virtually any
    field of cell and molecular biology and clinical laboratory sciences. Presenters have ranged
    from prominent CEOs of local biotechnology companies to Nobel laureates to investigators
    at primarily undergraduate institutions. The diversity and prominence of these speakers
    provide our students with networking opportunities, because they meet with the speakers
    during department-wide luncheons that follow the seminars.

Students select electives following consultation with the major advisor to delineate an area of
expertise. Elective possibilities are the following: BIOL 540, Mechanisms of Gene Mutation and
Transmission; BIOL 563, Developmental Biology; BIOL 565, Model Organisms and Human
Disease; BIOL 566, Immunology; BIOL 765, Research Topics in Biology I (may be taken twice
for credit); BIOL 766, Research Topics in Biology II (may be taken twice for credit); BIOL 771,
Research Problems in Biology I; BIOL 772, Research Problems in Biology II; BIOL 574,
Virology; BIOL 584, Mechanisms of Bacterial Pathogenesis; BIOL 560, Emerging and Infectious
Diseases; BIOL 598, Membrane Trafficking and Disease and BIOL 599, Signal Transduction and
Biomembranes. Students cannot take more than 12 hours of Research Topics and Research
Problems credits; six of these credits may be related to the dissertation research. Many students
in the Clinical Laboratory Science program complete these 12 credit hours in area hospitals doing
clinical research or internships. Other students have used these hours to gain first-hand
experience in laboratory administration or complete clinical research in the various laboratory
disciplines. Clinical Ph.D. students may also complete courses in CUA’s Department of Business
and Economics, if their future career goals include specializing in clinical lab management and


                                                  18
they may register for specialized courses at the National Institutes of Health, through the FAES
program, or at any of the universities within the Washington DC consortium. The major advisor
and department chair grant requests to take consortium courses based on the specific area of
dissertation research. Courses taken at the National Institutes of Health are treated as transfer
credits, and so must comply with the regulations for transfer of graduate-course credits from any
institution that is not part of the Washington DC Consortium of Universities. The following
limitations on transfer credits apply: (a) a maximum of 24 credit hours (of grade B or higher)
may be transferred to apply toward the Ph.D. degree; (b) a student who applies more than 6,
transfer credits toward the Ph.D. may complete no more than 5 additional transfer credits outside
of CUA; (c) a student who applies 6 or fewer transfer credits toward the Ph.D. may complete no
more than 12 additional transfer credits outside of CUA.

The Biology Department is committed to providing opportunities that promote the professional
development of its students as well-rounded, ethical scientists. These include the following:
 Teaching assistantships: During the academic year, financial support through teaching
   assistantships provides graduate students with opportunities to develop their pedagogical
   skills, typically in laboratory classes with small numbers of students and always under the
   tutelage of a full-time faculty member with primary responsibility for the class.
 Research assistantships: Sponsored research grants fund a majority of the department’s
   research laboratories. In part, this funding provides summer support for graduate students to
   make progress on their dissertation projects. Individual investigators also provide research
   assistantships so students can focus on research during the academic year.
 Conference participation: Sponsored research grants and the CUA Graduate Student
   Association can pay for student travel to conferences. The faculty strongly encourages
   graduate students to present their research in national and international professional
   conferences, where they might either give talks or present posters. Almost every student
   presents his/her research in several such conferences before graduation. (One only has to
   walk through the department and see all the posters displayed on the walls to know that
   conference participation is highly valued.) Our students also regularly participate in
   conferences at the NIH, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington Cancer Center,
   and Johns Hopkins Medical School, and present at the NIH Protein Trafficking Interest
   Group and the Baltimore-Washington Area Worm Club. In these venues, students also hear
   about the most current research in local laboratories and have opportunities to establish
   collaborations with other local investigators.
 Publications: Top-tier journals publish research performed in the Biology Department as
   peer-reviewed articles. The faculty encourages graduate students to participate in every stage
   of manuscript preparation from composing figures to writing and editing. Students are
   usually the first authors on these articles, which promotes their building impressive
   curriculum vitae for the next stages of their careers.
 Responsible conduct of research: Our graduate students attend an annual seminar that deals
   with ethics and conduct in research that trains them to conduct their research responsibly.
   We have had speakers from the Office of Research Integrity at the NIH, as well as faculty
   presentations, on authorship issues, data presentation, plagiarism, and sample management.
   These are further re-enforced in one-on-one meetings and discussions with the thesis advisor.



                                               19
   Graduate Student Research Symposium: Annually, our department invites alumni and the
    university community for an all-day research symposium that highlights our students’
    accomplishments in oral and poster presentations. Alumni participate directly by providing
    career advice through either a panel discussion or round table discussions. Recent symposium
    keynote lectures featured prominent NIH directors from the National Institute of Allergy and
    Infectious Diseases and the National Cancer Institute. Several hundred CUA students and
    guests attended the lectures. One of these lectures was broadcast on C-SPAN.
   Representation on governing bodies and committees: Each semester, one of the students
    represents biology graduate students in the Graduate Student Association. In addition, one of
    our graduate students is currently the student member of the university’s Middle States Task
    Force. We always include student participation in our faculty search committees. Students
    meet with the candidates and attend their job seminars; they nominate a representative to
    gather and share their feedback for the faculty’s consideration when they vote on the
    candidates.

Among several career paths, graduates might assume positions as director of a clinical laboratory,
administrative or scientific positions in industry, administrative positions in academia, professor
in a university or medical school, or scientist in a biotechnology company or government
research institution. Recent graduates are employed in all of these areas.

                                II. Goals for Student Learning

Students who graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Clinical Laboratory Science will:

1. Demonstrate a broad, thorough understanding of the pathophysiology of disease and the
   methods used to detect these diseases.
2. Exhibit a broad, thorough understanding of cell biology, molecular biology, microbial
   biology, genetics, metabolism, and modern methodology and technology for addressing
   biological questions.
3. Exhibit professional-level knowledge and skill as effective writers who can communicate
   complicated biological information clearly and concisely.
4. Display professional-level skill as effective oral communicators of potentially complex
   scientific topics with the specific knowledge to analyze and respond intelligently to audience
   inquiry in a classroom or seminar situation.
5. Through the process of original, dissertation research, demonstrate the application of
   technical skills and scientific acumen in the production of an original research document.
6. Demonstrate a combination of management and scientific skills that will allow the graduate
   to assume an administrative position in a clinical laboratory.
7. Demonstrate teaching skills that include the ability to convey complex information in a well-
   organized and understandable manner, and to provide lucid, comprehensive answers to
   student questions.
6. Demonstrate a standard of conduct consistent with the ethical standards in which CUA
   graduate students receive annual training.




                                                20
                         III. Student Assessment Outcome Measures

1. Admission: Applicants must be certified medical technologists with at least two years
   experience in the clinical laboratory.
2. Graduate Advising: Entering graduate students receive academic advising from the
   department chair until they select a major professor, who then assumes that role.
3. Course work: Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 average with a maximum of six credit
   hours of C grades. The faculty reviews all C grades at the end of each semester. Any student,
   who earns a total of three credit hours of C grades or whose GPA falls below a 3.0 in any
   given semester is placed on probation and closely monitored. The faculty discusses each such
   case in a faculty meeting, and the respective major professor meets with the student to pass
   on any faculty recommendations. A student is subject to dismissal, if his/her GPA is below
   3.0 for two consecutive semesters or s/he earns more than six credit hours of C grades.
   Students who receive one grade of F are also subject to dismissal. The faculty vote on
   dismissal decisions.
4. Ph.D. Comprehensive Examinations: Students are eligible to take their preliminary oral and
   final written comprehensive examinations after having completed 35 credit hours (or during
   the semester in which they will complete 35 credits). The same faculty committee prepares,
   administers and evaluates both exams. It consists of 3 or 4 biology faculty members, selected
   according to the completed course work and research interests of each student and on the
   recommendation of the student’s faculty advisor (after consultation with the student). The
   student presents the department chair with a list of completed courses and grades, and the
   faculty approves the committee’s composition at a faculty meeting.
   (a) Qualifying Oral Examination: Students take the qualifying oral examination, which the
       committee administers to determine readiness for the written examination, at least three
       weeks before the written exam. During this oral exam, students respond to questions,
       which each committee member asks in turn. (Students can use a chalkboard as a
       pedagogical tool in their responses.) Questions focus mainly on, but are not strictly
       limited to, course work and potential dissertation topics. The oral exam typically lasts for
       1.5-2 hours. Evaluation criteria are the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the
       responses. If all of the members of the committee agree that a student’s performance
       indicates sufficient mastery to pass a subsequent written examination, they recommend
       proceeding to the written portion. If all members of the committee are not in agreement,
       there is discussion to arrive on a consensus opinion. For a deficiency in one topic, the
       committee recommends concentrating on that area in preparation for the written
       examination. Deficiencies in more than one topic lead to a recommendation to repeat the
       exam in the next semester. There is no specific limit to the number of times a student may
       sit for the qualifying oral examination.
   (b) Written Comprehensive Examination: Ph.D. students must successfully pass a written
       comprehensive examination testing their knowledge of cellular, microbial, and molecular
       biology and their area of research concentration. The content of a particular examination
       is not strictly confined to material covered in the courses a student has taken, although
       committee members do take into account the orientation of a student’s program. Each
       member of the committee will submit one or more questions; the student is allowed a 3
       hour period in which to write the answer(s) for each member’s question(s). The faculty


                                                21
       expects students to take an analytical and systematic approach to answering each
       question. Evaluation criteria include the following: (1) awareness of current literature, as
       well as significant historical developments in the major field; (2) theoretical (reasoning)
       competence; (3) factual, practical and methodological competence; (4) breadth and depth
       of knowledge; (5) conceptual understanding, and (6) synthesis and clarity of answers.
       Committee members grade exams individually; they convene as a full committee to reach
       consensus. If each of the committee members is satisfied with the answer to his/her
       question, the student has passed the written comprehensive exam. If all but one question
       is judged to be competently answered, the student receives passing credit for the three
       satisfactory answers. At the the next scheduled date for the comprehensive exam,
       however, the student must sit for a new question submitted by the committee member
       whose question was not passed previously. A student who does fails to receive a passing
       grade on two or more questions is judged to have failed the entire written comprehensive
       exam, and must re-take the exam in its entirety. A student who twice fails the written
       comprehensive examination is not eligible for admission to candidacy for the doctoral
       degree.
   (c) Admission to Candidacy: After passing their comprehensive examinations, students apply
       for admission to candidacy. Important criteria for candidacy include: (a) course work, (b)
       grades, (c) performance in the comprehensive exam, and (d) demonstrated progress on
       laboratory research. The department chair presents a student’s application along with a
       list of completed courses and course grades at a faculty meeting, and the faculty vote on
       the candidacy.
5. Dissertation Research Topic Approval Examination: The faculty must approve a doctoral
   candidate’s dissertation topic within two years following the date of admission to candidacy
   and no fewer than two semesters prior to graduation.
   (a) Students secure approval of a Dissertation Topic Committee in their second year in the
       program. A student and his/her faculty advisor select at least two additional biology
       faculty members based on the proposed research. (Committees can include additional
       external committee members, depending on the research focus and whether the student is
       part-time and has an off-campus advisor.) The faculty votes on committee composition at
       a faculty meeting.
   (b) Each doctoral student meets with his/her committee at least once a year to present a
       progress report on the dissertation research. During these meetings, committee members
       assess whether the student is advancing sufficiently on the project’s goals, whether the
       original hypothesis remains valid or requires modification, and the future directions the
       research should take. Based on these annual discussions, each student writes a final
       dissertation research topic proposal once s/he has established a clear plan for the major
       experiments and investigative directions of the dissertation. The committee assesses the
       topic proposal in an oral examination, typically of 1-2 hours duration. Evaluation criteria
       include: (1) completeness, (2) feasibility and (3) the significance of the work and its
       contributions to important biological questions. The committee also discusses various
       aspects of the proposal, such as the student’s (4) awareness of background research and
       relevant literature, (5) methodology, (6) alternative approaches, (7) methods of data
       analysis, (8) writing clarity and (9) general rationale for the aims of the research.
       Following this evaluation, the committee can: (1) recommend approval of the proposed


                                                22
        research, as is, to the Biology Faculty at the next regular scheduled faculty meeting, (2)
        recommend approval of the proposed research topic with appropriate modifications in
        approach and/or written presentation, or (3) ask the student to correct weaknesses in the
        proposal and reschedule another evaluation process. The faculty vote on topic approval
        during a regular faculty meeting and then forward the approval document and an
        accompanying application to the Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies for external
        review by a faculty member in another department. If changes are requested by that
        faculty reviewer, the candidate incorporates comments from the external review and
        submits a final research topic proposal to the graduate office.
6. Dissertation approval: Each candidate must complete an acceptable dissertation and oral
   defense within five years after admission to candidacy or request an extension, typically not
   to exceed one year, which the dean must approve.
   (a) Based on the topic approval examination and the candidate’s research focus, the major
         advisor proposes a Dissertation Committee to the Biology Faculty for approval. This
         committee, typically comprised of the members of the Topic Approval Committee, must
         consist of a minimum three members, at least two of whom must be CUA Biology
         Faculty members.
   (b) The Dissertation Committee guides the candidate during his/her dissertation work and
         holds periodic meetings, at least once a year, to monitor progress. The committee is also
         responsible for ensuring that the candidate adheres to the approved research plan,
         reading and critically evaluating the dissertation, and participating in the dissertation
         defense.
   (c) When the major advisor and candidate determine that the experiments are near
         completion, the candidate meets with committee members individually to apprise them
         of the intention to prepare the written dissertation. Together, the whole committee
         evaluates the completed research to determine its acceptability as a dissertation. The
         student then writes the dissertation document in a lucid, concise manner in consultation
         with the major advisor and submits it to the remaining committee members, who make
         constructive comments and decide whether to provide their approval signatures so that
         the candidate can proceed to the oral defense.
7. Oral Dissertation defense: Before the dissertation’s final approval, the candidate must defend
   it in an oral examination in the presence of an examination board, which the academic dean
   of the school appoints with the approval of the assistant academic vice president for graduate
   programs and research centers. Before scheduling the defense, members of the candidate’s
   dissertation committee must go to the Dean's Office to sign a form indicating that they have
   read the dissertation and believe the candidate is ready for the defense. The Dean’s office
   then selects an external chair and secretary to conduct the defense examination. This
   examination consists of two parts – a public seminar and a closed session – that together do
   not last more than between two and two and half hours. The public seminar is a formal
   presentation, given in a manner consistent with research seminars in the field; it lasts about
   40 minutes. The public seminar is intended to provide a public forum for presentation of the
   results of the dissertation research, and to set the stage for the closed session that will follow.
   The closed session with the Oral Examination Committee begins immediately following the
   public seminar. Evaluation criteria are: (a) the content of the original research, (b) the
   candidate’s mastery of the literature and status of the field, (c) the candidate’s ability to


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   articulate the significance of the findings, and (d) the candidate’s capability in discussing
   future directions to which the research might apply. Candidates who meet these criteria pass
   the examination; those who do so with an incredibly strong command in all areas pass with
   distinction (typically, fewer than 10% of students), and those who are unable to meet the
   criteria fail. (Each member of the committee has one vote. The candidate must receive a Pass
   vote from all but one examiner to pass. Committees cannot pass candidates conditionally.)
   Candidates who fail the oral defense can obtain permission from the school to retake it after
   at least one semester has elapsed. Candidates who fail a second time cease to be candidates
   for the doctoral degree.
8. Deposit of dissertation: After passing the oral defense, the candidate completes the written
   dissertation to the satisfaction of each committee member to obtain the appropriate
   signatures. Then, the candidate deposits the dissertation with the University as the final
   component of earning the Ph.D.

                       IV. Use of Results to Improve Student Learning

1. At every stage of our student assessment process, the department chair, or appropriate
   committee chairperson, reports the results back to the faculty as a whole during monthly
   faculty meetings. The faculty often uses this examination of results to develop, through
   collective discussion and negotiation, individual plans to address student deficiencies and
   make changes in program structure and assessment criteria to enhance student learning.
2. In the process of examining assessments, the faculty can direct particular issues to one of
   three standing faculty committees: the Biology Policy Committee, the Biology Curriculum
   Committee, or the Biology Enhancement Committee. Committees then discuss the relevant
   issues, reach a consensus, and make recommendations to the entire faculty for a vote.
3. As part of implementation, the faculty communicates program changes to students and
   incorporates them into the Biology Graduate Handbook, which is publicly accessible through
   the Biology Department’s website.
4. The department continues to implement new indirect measures of student assessment, the
   results of which will help us increase the effectiveness of our program, e.g., an online alumni
   survey that will generate statistically interpretable data might indicate areas in which the
   department can further improve to enhance student learning. Implementation will involve
   discussion and recommendation from the appropriate faculty committee(s), and a majority
   vote by the entire faculty at a monthly faculty meeting.
5. Graduate students enrolled in 500-level courses complete the University’s standard, course
   evaluation process at the end of each semester. For 600- and 700-level courses the
   department conducts its own course evaluation procedure. All course evaluations are
   reviewed by the department chair, and by the instructor for each course. If changes in the
   structure of a given course are deemed necessary by either, action is taken.




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