New York Medical College

Graduate School of Basic Medical Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy Degree Requirements


Formal Course Work

A minimum of 45 course credits is required. Each doctoral program has specific didactic course requirements and additional requirements for non-didactic credits such as research rotations, journal clubs, etc., that count towards the 45-credit requirement. Additional elective credits are selected by the student in consultation with the student's graduate program director. Elective credits must be earned in didactic courses, and may be limited within individual programs to only advanced courses or courses in a specific discipline.

Qualifying Examination

Each predoctoral student is required to pass a Qualifying Examination that determines whether the student is suitably prepared to undertake the dissertation research phase of the doctoral program. This examination should be taken when most of the formal course work has been completed, although some programs administer a portion of the Qualifying Examination at an early stage of the student's academic program.

The Qualifying Examination is usually taken before or near the conclusion of the second year of graduate study, and it must be taken no later than one year before the expected date of graduation. Lack of readiness to complete the Qualifying Examination after two years of graduate study may indicate insufficient academic progress and, therefore, may be grounds for dismissal from the program.

The Qualifying Examination format varies from program to program. It may consist of two parts, which may occur at two different times. Students should consult with their graduate program director for specific information about the examination format in each program.

Dissertation/Research Requirement

The awarding of the Ph.D. degree implies that the candidate has demonstrated the ability to plan, undertake and complete an independent research project in the discipline or field designated by the degree. A central component of the doctoral degree program, therefore, is a suitable original research project that leads to a doctoral dissertation. This work is conducted by the student under the guidance of a graduate faculty sponsor/mentor and an approved dissertation committee composed of graduate faculty and, in some cases, qualified scientists from outside the university. The student is credited with 15 dissertation research credits at the successful conclusion of this work. These credits do not count against the 45-course-credit requirement discussed above.

Dissertation Defense

After submitting the written dissertation to the dissertation committee, the candidate must present a formal public Dissertation Defense.

Notice of the dissertation defense is to be made public either through an announcement in a school calendar or via printed notices displayed on all departmental bulletin boards and the Graduate School bulletin board, at least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense. The defense is open to all members of the graduate faculty. Except in extraordinary circumstances and with prior approval of the dean, the defense is also open to all members of the College community as observers.

The format usually involves an oral presentation of the dissertation research by the candidate followed by questions and challenges from the dissertation committee and graduate faculty. The chair of the dissertation committee moderates the session. At the conclusion of the defense, the dissertation committee and the graduate faculty in the program shall meet in executive session to discuss the dissertation and defense. The committee may (a) approve the dissertation as it stands, (b) approve pending specified revisions, (c) require further experimental results, or (d) in extreme and rare cases, reject the dissertation outright. The reason(s) for rejection must be submitted in writing to the Dean of the Graduate School. The committee may authorize the candidate's sponsor, the committee chair, or the graduate program director to ascertain that any specified revisions to the dissertation are made satisfactorily by the candidate.

The Dissertation Committee

1. The student and the mentor propose the membership of the committee, which must then be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School.

2. The Committee must consist of at least five qualified scientists. At least four members must be members of the graduate faculty. At least one member must be a graduate faculty member from outside the student's home department or program. One member of the committee may be a qualified scientist from outside the university, who may participate throughout the course of the Dissertation Committee's work (see below).

3. Each Dissertation Committee shall be chaired by one of its members. The chair may be the candidate's faculty sponsor, the graduate program director, or another graduate faculty member, following the program's internal rules or practice. The chair must, however, be a member of the graduate faculty.

4. The Dissertation Committee should be formed at an early point in the candidate's dissertation research. The committee should review and approve the student's proposal of goals and methods of the dissertation research and also periodically review the progress of the work, offering guidance and advice, and reviewing and approving changes in the project's goals or methods as appropriate. The final duty of the committee is to review and approve the candidate's written dissertation and oral defense.

5. Although individual programs may add requirements or specifications regarding the composition and duties of the Dissertation Committee, these program requirements may not supersede those of the Graduate School as outlined in the previous four paragraphs.

The Written Dissertation

It is a Graduate School requirement that the final approved doctoral dissertation be published and archived. This is accomplished by submitting a copy of the dissertation to Bell and Howell for microfilming, dissemination, and archiving. An additional hard copy is placed in the NYMC Medical Sciences Library. Publication is an absolute requirement. If a student has a valid reason to delay publication for a period of up to six months - e.g., to file patent disclosures or applications - this requirement must be made in writing to the dean well in advance (at least 6 months) of the defense date. Such requests must be thoroughly justified and submitted in a timely fashion in order to be considered.

When the thesis is approved, the original and two additional copies are to be submitted to the Graduate School Office along with the Dissertation Committee's Approval form signed by all members, and a Bell & Howell Publishing Agreement. The Agreement must be completed and signed, and must include an abstract of no more than 150 words (Master's thesis) or 350 words (Ph.D. dissertation). Abstracts should be printed on one side of the paper only, double spaced. Graphs, charts, tables and illustrations are not to be included in the abstract. The deadline for submission of the final approved dissertation is April 15 or as noted in the annual graduate school academic calendar.

Specific format requirements and guidelines for the dissertation and abstract are outlined in the Graduate School Student Handbook. A copy of this booklet may be obtained from the Graduate School Office. Bell & Howell Publishers' Agreement forms are also available there. Dissertation and abstract guidelines are also available on the Web sites of the Graduate School and the NYMC Medical Sciences Library.

The three required copies of the dissertation are sent for binding and are then distributed to the Medical Sciences Library, the student's faculty sponsor, and the student's program. If the student wants personal copies, he or she may submit them at the same time, along with a check to cover the cost of binding.

Computer Literacy Requirement

Ph.D. students are required to demonstrate a working knowledge of the use and implementation of application software in the areas of word processing, statistics, spreadsheets, and presentation graphics. In addition, an understanding of basic computer terminology must be demonstrated. The fulfillment of the computer requirement will be monitored by each program. It is within the discretion of each program to include additional requirements in this area and students are advised to check with their graduate program director for further information. Each basic science department maintains computer facilities designated for students' computer literacy training and to support their dissertation research. A passing grade in the course, Computers in Health Sciences (BMS-1300), will be accepted as partial fulfillment of the computer literacy requirement. Some programs may require additional achievement by the student, as noted in the individual program sections. BMS-1300 cannot, however, be used to fulfill the elective credit requirement in any doctoral program.

Language Requirements

The Graduate School does not require competence in any language other than English.