Division of Graduate Medical Sciences Policy
General Requirement for MA and MS Degrees
A thesis, practicum, and/or a comprehensive examination may be required, as determined by the department or program of study.
General Requirements for the PhD
The requirements for post-bachelor’s and post-master’s degree programs are as follows:
Candidates without a master’s degree or its equivalent are required to complete a minimum of 64 graduate-level credits. Specific requirements relative to the selection of courses, seminars, and research or directed study will be determined by the student’s department or graduate program. Normally, no more than four (4) courses may be taken concurrently. Each student must register for at least one (1) course each semester until completion of all departmental or programmatic course requirements unless granted an authorized leave of absence. The number of courses that may be transferred to a post-bachelor’s program is explained in more detail in the Transfer of Credits section.
In some cases, candidates with a master’s degree may be accepted into a post-MA program. These students are required to complete a minimum of 32 graduate-level credits. In certain circumstances, the Admissions Committee of a department or program will require post-master’s candidates to complete the equivalent of sixteen (16) graduate-level courses (64 credits). Specific requirements relative to the selection of courses, seminars, and research or directed study will be determined by the student’s department or program. Normally, no more than four (4) courses may be taken concurrently, and each student must register for at least one (1) course each semester until completion of all departmental or programmatic course requirements unless granted an authorized leave of absence. Regulations regarding transfer of credit to a post-master’s program are explained in more detail in the Transfer of Credits section.
All PhD students shall demonstrate mastery of their field in special examinations set by the student’s department or program. All parts of the qualifying examination must be passed and the GMS registrar is notified before the dissertation prospectus outline will be accepted by GMS. The number of members and the composition of the qualifying examination committee are dictated by the department or program. All qualifying examination committee members should be members of the GMS faculty.
Dissertation Prospectus Outline
At a stage in the research prescribed by the student’s department or program, the student develops a dissertation prospectus with the help of their readers and dissertation committee. The dissertation prospectus must be approved by the readers and the specific department chair or program director. The approved prospectus is submitted to the GMS registrar on or before the date specified under the Calendar and Important Dates available on the GMS website. The format of the prospectus and specific procedures for meeting the general guidelines vary among the departments and programs.
Candidates shall demonstrate their ability for independent study in a dissertation that represents original research or creative scholarship. After completing coursework, and all other pre-dissertation requirements, including the qualifying examinations, a student develops a dissertation proposal. In some departments and programs presentation of the dissertation proposal is part of the qualifying examination.
A dissertation abstract of 350 words or less that has been approved by the student’s first reader, program director, and/or department chair must be submitted to the GMS registrar at least three (3) weeks prior to the scheduled dissertation oral defense. Additional materials may be required by individual departments or programs.
To complete, successfully defend, and submit the dissertation to the GMS registrar for timely graduation, a PhD candidate will:
- Submit the dissertation prospectus outline to GMS and diploma application at least three (3) months prior to the anticipated graduation date.
- Submit a dissertation abstract, approved by the department or program, at least three (3) weeks prior to final oral exam.
- The dissertation must be approved by the research advisor (who is the first reader) and the second readers, at which time the dissertation must be distributed to the remaining committee members at least two (2) weeks prior to the final oral exam. All members must have GMS faculty membership.
- Submit a final oral exam schedule, approved by the department or program, at least two (2) weeks prior to final oral exam.
- Defend the dissertation at the final oral exam. All committee members must approve the dissertation. Recommendations for corrections can be made at the final oral exam and the student must make these corrections to the satisfaction of all committee members before final approval is granted.
- Submit the final approved dissertation (and associated fees and documents) to the GMS registrar by the appropriate graduation due date.
Failure to meet any of these deadlines may result in rescheduling of dissertation defense and/or graduation.
Final Oral Examination
PhD students must undergo a final oral examination in which they defend their dissertation as a valuable contribution to their field and to demonstrate a mastery of their field of specialization. The examining committee is composed of five (5) or more faculty members, including the first, second, and third (optional) readers and a committee chair. A Special Service Appointment is required for those committee members who are visiting, adjunct, and Emeritus faculty, Boston University employees not of faculty rank, and examiners from outside Boston University.
All committee members are required to attend the final oral examination. In special circumstances, a member can participate in the final oral examination via audio/video communication or through a proxy.