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Degree Requirements

BBS Work-in-Progress:

BBS Work-in-Progress (BBS WIP) event is designed to highlight and disseminate BBS student research. Students are required to present on an annual basis until their 5th year. All BBS students are required to attend 75% of the BBS WIP (attendance will be taken). Student who matriculated in Fall 2010 or earlier are not required to give a WIP seminar, but are highly encouraged to attend. All BBS faculty are encouraged to attend.

First-year students will give a presentation on their rotation projects. Students beyond the first year should coordinate their annual Special Committee meeting with their BBS WIP research presentation and request their committee members attend the seminar. 

  • Where: VRT Lecture Hall 3
  • When: Wednesdays from 9:00 - 10:00 am.
  • Course Number: VTBMS 7200 

BBS WIP Spring 2018 schedule

First year laboratory rotations

BBS PhD students are required to complete three rotations during their first year enrolled in the program. These rotations are designed to:

  • provide a range of research experiences that will give you a broad knowledge of methodologies and techniques;
  • provide you with the opportunity for more substantial contact with various faculty (and faculty with you) in order for both to make an informed decision about your thesis laboratory and Special Committee membership;
  • provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate your scientific abilities and enthusiasm for research to various faculty, with the ultimate goal of finding a mentor who is willing to accept you into the lab and provide your funding for the duration of your research project.

General timeline to follow for first year rotations
Rotation #1 - Begin no later than September 1st and end sometime in November
Rotation #2 - Begin no later than first week in December and end by February 28th
Rotation #3 – Begin no later than March 1 and end mid-May

Used to submit new rotation information to the Office of Graduate Education

The BBS rotation evaluation process provides a framework for constructive discussion of the student’s laboratory rotation. Starting in October 2017, the rotation evaluation will have three components:

Step 1 - Student EvaluationONLINE FORM
Student completes online self evaluation. This evaluation will be emailed to your rotation mentor and student will be copied on the message.

Step 2 - Mentor EvaluationONLINE FORM
Faculty submits online response which will then be emailed back to faculty mentor to be shared with student prior or during the required face to face dialogue.

Step 3 - Face to Face discussion

Note: A student may request a reduction in required lab rotations if they have extensive research experience and demonstrate a strong rationale for their selection of a Special Committee chair. Students may discuss this possibility with their DGS and petition for a reduced rotation requirement. Approval is at the discretion of the DGS and the chair of the BBS Oversight Committee. Students should be aware that such requests are approved only rarely.


Examination for Admission to PhD Candidacy ("A-Exam")

A student must pass this comprehensive examination administered by special committee to obtain doctoral candidacy. This exam is either oral or written and oral, as determined by the special committee. The A-Exam may be taken after two registration units have been accumulated in a PhD degree program.


  • Complete the Schedule for Admission to Candidacy (A-Exam) form and submit to the Office of Graduate Education two weeks prior to your exam.
  • Bring the A-Exam results form to your A exam, this form must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Education within three business days of your exam (results will be sent via PDF to the graduate school).

Final Examination for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree ("B-Exam")

A doctoral candidate takes the final examination upon completion of all requirements for the degree, but no earlier than one month before completion of the minimum registration unit requirement. This oral exam covers the general subject of the student’s dissertation.

A minimum of two registration units must be earned between passing the A-Exam and scheduling the B-Exam.


  • Complete the Schedule the B Examination form and submit to the Office of Graduate Education two weeks prior to your exam.
  • You will need to bring the B-Exam results form to your B-Exam, this form must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Education within three business days of your exam (results will be sent via PDF to the graduate school).

Thesis or Dissertation

PhD degree students must present a dissertation, including an abstract of no more than 350 words, signed by the special committee chair, and acceptable in scholarship and literary quality. The Graduate School uses a service called ProQuest to administer the electronic thesis/dissertation (ETD) submission process. You will find these guidelines here

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