Department Of Physiology Policy Regarding the Qualifying Examination

Physiology graduate students will take the Qualifying Examination during the summer following the completion of the medical physiology course for PhD students or within one year following entrance into the PhD portion for MD/PhD students. Students are encouraged to form the Research Committee (see below) prior to or soon after the completion of the Qualifying Examination.

Part 1: Written Qualifying Examination

Questions from all areas of physiology (cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal, endocrine, gastrointestinal, etc) will be solicited from the entire Physiology Department faculty for the Written Qualifying Examination. These questions will be discussed and reformulated by the Physiology Graduate Studies Program Committee (PGSPC). The questions may be multi-layered, asking for basic information about physiological processes as well as questions on how experiments could be designed to address physiological questions. The student will answer 6 of 8 questions over a period of 2 days. Answers will be read by all members of the faculty and opinions submitted to the PGSPC, which will then determine whether the student’s performance is satisfactory. Grading will be on a Pass/Fail basis. Students must pass Part 1 to progress to Part 2. At the discretion of the committee, a student will be allowed to retake the Written Qualifying Examination within a designated period of time.

Part 2: Oral Qualifying Examination

Upon successful completion of Part 1, a student will be given an Oral Qualifying Examination. All Physiology faculty and members of the student’s Research Committee (if formulated) will be invited to attend and ask questions, which may pertain to any area of physiology. Following the question and answer period, the PGSPC will discuss the student’s performance, determine whether the student passed Part 2, and recommend further coursework if appropriate. Grading for this component will be based on general physiology knowledge, and the ability to respond to questions and integrate answers. Grading will be on a Pass/Fail basis. At the discretion of the committee, a student will be allowed to retake the Oral Qualifying Examination within a designated period of time.

LSUHSC-NO Graduate Studies Policy Regarding the Research Committee and Conducting the Preliminary Exam

The applicant becomes eligible for the Preliminary Examination at a time chosen by the faculty but not less than one academic year (three consecutive semesters) before graduation. The student and his/her major professor, with the approval of the Department Head and the Dean, will recommend a research committee and petition to schedule the examination. Examination and defense request forms are available from the Student Affairs Office. To access fillable PDF forms, use the "Forms" link on the School of Graduate Studies Website.

The preliminary examination committee will ordinarily consist of the student's major professor and at least four other Graduate Faculty members representing major and minor disciplines. At least one member must be from another Department and one member may be from outside the Health Sciences Center. Substitution or addition of committee members may be made by the Dean after consultation with the major professor and Department Head, but continuity of membership is sought to provide consistent guidance of the student through the program. This examination is the most thorough in the doctorate program. It should require the candidate to demonstrate competence in a broad segment of the major and minor fields. Although the examination may be solely oral or written and oral, a written section is strongly recommended. If there is no more than one negative ballot out of a minimum of five, the student becomes a “candidate” after the Dean has been notified by the student's major professor and Department Head of successful completion of the preliminary examination.

Department Of Physiology Policy Regarding the Research Proposal

As part of the research development, a student is expected to prepare a written research proposal in grant format for review and approval by the student’s Research Committee. This Research Proposal requirement should be initiated early and completed prior to or shortly after passing the Preliminary Exam so that the proposal can be reformatted for submission to funding agencies. The written Research Proposal should be submitted to the Research Committee members at least 4 weeks prior to the date of the planned oral presentation of the Research Proposal. The Committee members should submit comments and suggestions to the student no later than 1 week prior to the oral defense of the Research Proposal. The Research Proposal should be prepared using 1 inch margins and double-spaced pages. The length of the document should be approximately 24 pages excluding references. The Research Proposal should contain the following headings: 1) Background and Significance (at least 6 pages), 2) Preliminary Studies, 3) Research Design, 4) Research Methods, 5) Statistical Methods, 6) References. The Research Proposal should be on the student’s proposed research project. The written application should cover a proposed research program sufficient to produce publishable work sufficient for a Dissertation. It is recommended that the student develop ideas through discussions with his/her Mentor, Research Committee members, and other faculty members that would provide meaningful input. Prior to the final submission to the Research Committee, written drafts of the proposal can be submitted to and/or interim oral presentations can be made to the entire Research Committee in order to help shape the thoughts of the proposal. The student gives an oral presentation to the Research Committee members and the department of physiology including faculty, fellows, students, and staff. The student is highly encouraged to submit the Research Proposal to a funding agency.

Department Of Physiology Policy Regarding the Research Committee and Conducting the Preliminary Examination

Students are encouraged to form the Research Committee prior to or soon after the completion of the Qualifying Examination. The Research Committee will guide a student’s research, conduct the Preliminary Exam, review the Research Proposal, and conduct the Dissertation Defense. The Research Committee should meet with the graduate student regularly (2-3 times per year) to assess research progress and set benchmarks toward completing the PhD requirements. The applicant becomes eligible for the Preliminary Examination at a time chosen by the faculty but not less than one academic year (three consecutive semesters) before graduation. It is recommended that the student begin the Preliminary Examination 12-18 months following the completion of the Qualifying Examination. The student will obtain a signature from the Mentor and each member of the Research Committee confirming the date of the scheduled Preliminary Exam prior to submitting the Request for Preliminary Examination form to the Department Head. At least two weeks prior to taking the written component of the Preliminary Exam, a “Request for Preliminary Examination” form should be submitted to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. The Preliminary Exam will be conducted by the student’s Research Committee and will consist of written and oral components.

Preliminary Examination

The Preliminary Exam is an opportunity to assess overall competence in physiology as it relates to the PhD candidate’s area of research. Rather than focusing on a general knowledge of physiology as tested in the Qualifying Exam, at this stage it is expected that the PhD candidate can demonstrate a substantial integration of his/her research topic and preliminary findings with broad physiological principles and mechanisms. The preliminary exam consists of two parts (written and oral), and its final evaluation is the sole responsibility of the student’s inter-departmental Research Committee.

Part 1: Written Preliminary Examination

It is the student’s obligation to work closely with each member of the Research Committee in preparation for the Preliminary Exam. Each committee member will be provided exam guidelines and will be asked by the Chair of the Research Committee to submit one essay-type question for the written portion. Students will be presented with half of the questions on the morning of the written exam (9:00 AM). Students will be allowed an entire day (until 5:00 PM) for completion of the first set of questions. After completion of the first set of questions, if the student desires to complete the remaining questions, they will be given that opportunity if that second half of the written exam begins prior to 1:30 pm. Otherwise, the student will be able to complete the second set of questions the following day. Students are expected to discuss their written exam performance with Research Committee members prior to the oral examination.

Part 2: Oral Preliminary Examination

The oral portion of the exam will be conducted approximately two weeks after the written exam and is scheduled according to the availability of the Research Committee and Physiology Department Head. The oral portion of the exam will be open to the Physiology Graduate Faculty (Assistant to Full Professors), to which a one-page research topic summary will be provided before the oral exam. The oral exam will primarily consist of questions from Research Committee members for a total duration of no more than ninety minutes. These questions will recapitulate and/or extend questions from the written exam. If time permits, non-Research Committee faculty members in attendance will be allowed to ask pertinent questions that allow for further demonstration of the student’s ability to integrate his/her physiology knowledge with major themes of the research topic.

Evaluation of the Preliminary Examination:

Research Committee members will vote pass or fail at the completion of the oral exam.  If there is no more than one negative ballot out of a minimum of five, the student becomes a PhD candidate after the student’s major professor and Physiology Department Head have notified the Dean of successful completion of the Preliminary Exam.

 

LSUHSC-NO Graduate Studies Policy Regarding the Dissertation and Dissertation Defense

Dissertation - The dissertation must be a significant contribution to the field, suitable for publication in a peer reviewed journal of international repute. Instructions on the preparation of the dissertation may be obtained from the School of Graduate Studies Website. The format of the dissertation should follow the rules formulated in the current edition of the CBE Style Manual: A Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers in the Biological Sciences. Copies of this manual are available in the Isché Library. For the planned graduation date, the student should check the school calendar for the final date for submission of the dissertation to the School of Graduate Studies.

Dissertation Defense – One year (three consecutive semesters) following the preliminary examination, the student is eligible to take this final examination if the dissertation is complete to the satisfaction of the Committee. The Defense may be preceded by an open seminar of the student's dissertation research. The student must petition the Dean for permission to take the examination. The examining committee is made up of no less than five graduate faculty members, one of whom must be from a Department other than the student's Department, nominated by the major professor, Head of the Department and appointed by the Dean. The Dean may serve as a member or may appoint members to the Committee. Traditionally, this examination is a test of the student's intimate knowledge of the area of the field in which the student is working. However, at the discretion of the Committee or the Dean, the examination may include questions from the major or minor fields in general. Voting is by secret ballot, and to pass the examination there may be no more than one negative vote.

Department Of Physiology Policy Regarding the Dissertation and Dissertation Defense

The dissertation must be a significant contribution to the field, suitable for publication in a refereed journal of international repute. Whenever possible, a student is urged to present a paper on the results of the student’s research before a national or international society of the student’s field.

The dissertation must represent a significant contribution to the field, with its contents suitable for publication in refereed journals of international repute. The dissertation work should reflect the scientific input from the student, Mentor, Research Committee, and other departmental and institutional faculty. Between passing the Preliminary Exam and the Dissertation Defense, members of the Research Committee should meet regularly with the student to assess progress, encourage publishing completed work, determine when research becomes a “significant contribution to the field”, help guide the general format of the dissertation, and establish an appropriate timeline for graduation.

The dissertation should be submitted to the Research Committee members at least 4 weeks prior to the desired defense date. The Committee members will then submit comments and suggestions to the student within 2 weeks, along with a recommendation for a final defense date to the student and Mentor. The student must also petition the Dean for permission to take the final examination at least 2 weeks prior to the scheduled date of the examination by submitting a “Request for Dissertation/Thesis Defense and Final Examination” form that is signed by all members of the Dissertation Committee prior to receiving the signature of the Department Head.  

An open seminar of the student’s dissertation research will precede the final examination. Traditionally, this examination is a test of the student’s intimate knowledge of the area of the research field in which the student is working. Voting is by secret ballot with no more than one negative vote permitted. If not more than one member of the examining committee dissents and if the dissertation is accepted, the candidate will be certified to the Graduate Faculty and Chancellor as having met all requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

 

Final Examination

One year (three consecutive semesters) following the preliminary examination, the student is eligible to take the final examination, if the dissertation is completed to the satisfaction of the research committee. The examination may be preceded by an open seminar of the student’s dissertation research. The student must petition the Dean for permission to take the examination at least 2 weeks prior to the scheduled date of the examination. The examining committee is approved by the major professor, Department Head and Dean and then appointed by the Dean. Traditionally, this examination is a test of the student’s intimate knowledge of the area of the field in which the student is working. However, at the discretion of the committee or the Dean, the examination may include general questions from the major or minor fields. Voting is by secret ballot with no more than one negative vote permitted. If not more than one member of the examining committee dissents and if the dissertation is accepted, the candidate will be certified to the Graduate Faculty and Chancellor as having met all requirements for the degree of doctor of philosophy.