Cell & Systems Biology

GRADUATE PROGRAM IN CELL & SYSTEMS BIOLOGY

The general program requirements for the CSB MSc and PhD programs have been summarised in a simple tabular format for easy reference (pdf).

For additional details to those presented below please consult the CSB Graduate Student Handbook (CSB Grad Student Handbook 2017-18).

Information about the Graduate Student Mentorship Program can be found here.

1. MSc PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

General Program Requirements

Normally the CSB MSc program should be completed within 24 months (6 sessions).  Students in the MSc program must complete either two quarter-credit CSB1020H modules (0.5 full course equivalent, FCE) OR a half-credit graduate course offered through CSB, OR an approved equivalent half-credit course offered by another department; the CSB1010Y MSc seminar series (CR/NCR, attendance at 24 seminars per year); a thesis on a research project; a public presentation of the thesis research, and defence of the thesis at an oral examination.

Course Work

Students in the Cell & Systems Biology MSc program are required to successfully complete two quarter-credit modules (i.e., 0.5 FCE), preferably in the first year of study, with a minimum grade of B- in both modules.

Provided MSc students fulfill their module requirements, they are welcome to take additional courses (including those that are not modular) offered by CSB and other graduate units.  The student’s Supervisory Committee may also recommend that additional courses be taken. The CSB Graduate Studies Committee seeks to provide students with flexibility in taking graduate courses, particularly if they are in excess of the basic requirements, and will work to find solutions for students wishing to take courses from other departments.

MSc Thesis Exam

Arrangements for the MSc thesis exam are made by the Program in Cell & Systems Biology on behalf of the School of Graduate Studies.  Please check with the Graduate Office for any deadlines (course marks or thesis submission) required for convocation and www.csb.utoronto.ca for “MSc Thesis Examination Instructions”.  The examination will be based on the assessment of the thesis containing the results of an original research study and the ability of the candidate to defend the thesis and show a mastery of the research topic.  The candidate must demonstrate that he/she understands the topic, can defend the data and the conclusions presented in the thesis, and can place the findings in a general context. There are two components to the MSc Thesis Examination: 1) a public presentation of the MSc thesis, and 2) an in camera defence of the MSc thesis.

2. TRANSFER FROM MSc TO PhD PROGRAM

Students wishing to initiate a transfer from the MSc to the PhD program should submit the ‘PhD Transfer/Proposal Examination Pre-Approval Form’ and have it co-signed by their supervisor.  This should be submitted to the Graduate Office  before the end of the student’s first year in the program.  The student will then register in the PhD program in their second year of graduate studies and the PhD proposal examination will be held between the 13th and 20th month of their program.  The Pre-Approval Form is located here: PhD Transfer Exam Pre-approval form 2017-2018.

The outcome of a PhD transfer exam will be either: pass and proceed in the PhD program or fail and complete a MSc by the end of 24 months.

Transfer students are required to take four quarter-credit modules (i.e., 1.0 FCE) or any combination of modules and approved half-credit courses totalling 1.0 FCE, and obtain a minimum grade of B- in all completed course work.  Any course work completed prior to the transfer may count toward this total.  The minimum stipend is guaranteed for a total of five years, starting with the date of first entry in the graduate program.

3. Direct Entry to the Ph.D. Program

The Program in Cell & Systems Biology encourages direct entry to the PhD program from a BSc degree for exceptional students with a minimum A- average in the final year.  Applicants should discuss the possibility of direct entry to a PhD with their potential supervisor(s).  Please see previous section for PhD program requirements.

4. PhD PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

General Program Requirements

Students entering the PhD program following transfer from the MSc program should complete the PhD program within 5 years from the start date at which they enrolled in the MSc program.  Students entering the PhD program directly from a BSc program should complete the PhD program within 5 years.  Students entering the PhD program following completion of an MSc degree should complete the CSB PhD program within 4 years.

Students in the PhD program must complete four quarter-credit modules or any combination of modules and half-credit courses totalling 1.0 FCE; the CSB PhD seminar series (credit only, 24 seminars per year); a thesis on a research project; a public presentation of the thesis research, and defence of the thesis at the final oral examination.

All PhD students and MSc students wishing to reclassify as PhD students must successfully complete a PhD Proposal / Transfer Examination. The PhD Proposal / Transfer Examination involves three components: 1) preparation of a written research proposal; 2) seminar presentation to the department and questioning by the public; and 3) in camera questioning by an PhD Proposal Examination Committee immediately following the public presentation.  Students must successfully complete their Proposal / Transfer Examination between the 13th and 20th months after the start date of enrolment in their graduate program.

Students that transfer from the CSB MSc program to the PhD program may apply course credits earned as CSB MSc students toward their PhD course requirements.  Students entering the PhD program following completion of an MSc will have to complete all the PhD program course requirements (1.0 FCE).

Ph.D. candidates complete a final committee meeting (Thesis Approval Meeting) for approval to proceed to the School of Graduate Studies’ Final Oral Examination.  The School of Graduate Studies’ Final Oral Examination is immediately preceded by a public seminar presentation of the thesis.

Course Work

Students in the Cell & Systems Biology PhD program are required to successfully complete four quarter-credit modules, or equivalent, with a minimum grade of B-minus in all modules.  All modules must be completed by the end of the 3rd year of study.  It is highly recommended that at least one of the modules be taken in the 1st year of study, with the remaining three modules taken at any time in the student’s program, provided all four modules are completed before the end of the third year of the student’s program.

A minimum of one half-credit of the full credit (i.e. 1.0 FCE) required in the CSB PhD program must be taken from courses/modules offered by the Department of Cell and Systems Biology.  That is, to meet their 1.0 FCE requirement, PhD students may take only 0.5 FCE offered by a department other than CSB (e.g., Molecular Genetics, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Physiology), and this must be approved by the student’s Supervisory Committee and the CSB Graduate Studies Committee.

The Supervisory Committee will evaluate course work of PhD applicants to determine if additional courses are required.  Students who transfer from The CSB MSc to the CSB PhD program may count any course work completed prior to the transfer toward their PhD course requirements.  It is anticipated that many PhD students will continue to participate in seminar-based modules after their minimum requirement is completed. Provided PhD students fulfill their course requirements as outlined above, they are welcome to take additional courses (including those that are not modular) offered by CSB or other graduate units. The student’s Supervisory Committee may also recommend that additional courses be taken.  The CSB GSC seeks to provide students with flexibility in taking graduate courses, particularly if they are in excess of the basic requirements, and will work to find solutions for students wishing to take courses from other departments.

PhD Proposal Exam

The Proposal Examination must be held within the first 13-20 months of entry into the PhD program.  The purpose of the Proposal Examination is to ensure that the research proposal is sound and that the study has every expectation of being completed within the time indicated.  It also serves to determine if the student has sufficient knowledge in the field to pursue the proposed research.  It provides a forum for discussion and suggestions from members of the department that may enhance the quality of the work and the achievements of the student.

The PhD Proposal Examination involves three components: 1) preparation of a written research proposal; 2) presentation to the department and questioning by the public; and 3) in camera questioning by an PhD Proposal Examination Committee immediately following the public presentation. Please consult the “PhD Proposal Examination Instructions” found here.

The emphasis at the proposal examination will be on the theory and proposed approach, rather than on progress to date.  The public presentation is made with members of the department and the Proposal Examination Committee in attendance.  The PhD Proposal Examination may serve as a Supervisory Committee meeting for that term, subject to agreement between the student and Supervisory Committee.

Thesis Approval Meeting

The Cell & Systems Biology PhD program requires that all PhD candidates present their thesis for evaluation to a Thesis Approval Committee before proceeding to the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) PhD Final Oral Examination.  The Thesis Approval Meeting must be held six to eight weeks prior to the SGS PhD Final Oral Examination.  Consult the Graduate Office for deadline dates for convocation and the “PhD Thesis Examination and Final Oral Examination Instructions” found here.  Members of the Thesis Approval Committee who evaluate the thesis are expected to advise the student and supervisor as to whether or not changes are necessary before the Final Oral Examination (FOE) is formally requested, and the thesis is distributed to the FOE committee members.  The student and supervisor must evaluate the recommendations and act accordingly.

Pre-Final Oral Examination Public Presentation of the Thesis

After the thesis is approved at the departmental Thesis Approval Meeting, the candidate arranges a public seminar, generally held within the context of the departmental seminar series, to present the thesis to a general audience.  This seminar will occur immediately before the School of Graduate Studies Final Oral Examination.

School of Graduate Studies PhD Final Oral Examination

After the thesis is approved at the departmental Thesis Approval Meeting, the SGS Final Oral Examination is arranged.  Consult the CSB “PhD Examination Guidelines” found here.  The “Certificate of Completion”, the thesis abstract, and the examining committee “Nomination Form” will be sent from the CSB Graduate Office to the PhD Office at the School of Graduate Studies.

Complete details on the SGS Final Oral Examination and final submission of the thesis can be found in the CSB Graduate Student Handbook.