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UCLA Graduate Division

2014-2015 Program Requirements for UCLA Graduate Degrees

Applicable only to students admitted during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Human Genetics

School of Medicine

Graduate Degrees

The Department of Human Genetics offers the Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in Human Genetics.

Admissions Requirements 

Master's Degree

Advising

Students entering the master's program are expected to identify a faculty mentor to serve as their adviser. For as long as no faculty mentor is identified, the departmental Faculty Graduate Adviser (appointed by the Chair) will serve as the adviser.

Areas of Study

The field of human genetics genetics incorporates multiple areas of modern experimental biology (including but not limited to molecular and behavioral genetics, epigenetics, biochemistry, cell and developmental biology, imaging, and large-scale omics approaches such as genomics, transcriptomics and functional genomics) and of computational biology (including bioinformatics and biostatistics).

Foreign Language Requirement

None.

Course Requirements

During the first year, students take the course series Molecular Biology 254A through 254D, and must complete a course on ethics in research. During the second year, students are required to take a minimum of one course of the series Human Genetics 236A-236C.  Elective courses must be taken to complete the minimum of nine courses (36) units required for the master's degree, with at least five of them (20 units) being at graduate level. No more than two independent study courses (eight units) in the 500 series may be applied toward the minimum course requirement of 36 units for the master's degree, and only one of these (four units) may be applied toward the minimum requirement of 20 units in graduate courses.

Teaching Experience

Not required.

Field Experience

Not required.

Comprehensive Examination Plan

None.

Thesis Plan

Every master's degree thesis plan requires the completion of an approved thesis that demonstrates the student's ability to perform original, independent research.

A written thesis is required for master's degree students. A thesis committee composed of at least three faculty members helps the student to plan the thesis research and makes a recommendation on granting the terminal degree.

Time-to-Degree

The time from entry into the program to completion of the master's degree is expected to be approximately two years.

Doctoral Degree

Advising

The departmental Faculty Graduate Adviser (appointed by the Chair) will serve as adviser of students who have not yet selected a laboratory for their doctoral studies. Once students select a faculty mentor, typically at the end of the first year, the faculty mentor automatically becomes the student's adviser. A doctoral committee is constituted by the end of the second year, and its members act as additional advisers. Students are expected to meet with that committee at least once a year until graduation.

Major Fields or Subdisciplines

The field of human genetics genetics incorporates multiple areas of modern experimental biology (including but not limited to molecular and behavioral genetics, epigenetics, biochemistry, cell and developmental biology, imaging, and large-scale omics approaches such as genomics, transcriptomics and functional genomics) and of computational biology (including bioinformatics and biostatistics).

Foreign Language Requirement

None.

Course Requirements

During the first year, students take the course series Molecular Biology 254A through 254D, and must complete a course on ethics in research. During the second year, students are required to take a minimum of one course of the series Human Genetics 236A-236C

Teaching Experience

Students teach for two quarters as a teaching assistant in a department of the College of Letters and Science. The teaching is to be performed preferably in years two and three. Students are encouraged to teach in Life Sciences 4 (the genetics component of the Life Sciences Core Curriculum) as teaching a general course in genetics reinforces understanding of fundamental aspects of the field.

Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations

Academic Senate regulations require all doctoral students to complete and pass University written and oral qualifying examinations prior to doctoral advancement to candidacy. Also, under Senate regulations the University oral qualifying examination is open only to the student and appointed members of the doctoral committee. In addition to University requirements, some graduate programs have other pre-candidacy examination requirements. What follows in this section is how students are required to fulfill all of these requirements for this doctoral program.

The Departmental Written Qualifying Examination (also known as the 'First Exam) and the University Oral Qualifying Examination (also known as the 'Second Exam') must be passed before students are advanced to candidacy for the doctoral degree. The two examinations are distinct and cannot be combined into a single examination. Prior to the examinations, students nominate a doctoral committee composed of at least four faculty members following university guidelines which must be approved by the Graduate Division. The faculty mentor is excused from participating in the Departmental Written Qualifying Examination, which is administered by the remaining members of the doctoral committee. All members of the doctoral committee, including the faculty mentor, administer the University Oral Qualifying Examination.

The Departmental Written Qualifying Examination takes place during early stages of the student's dissertation research project, preferably during the second year, and must be passed by the end of the fourth year in order to avoid a recommendation for termination from the program. The goal of the Departmental Written Qualifying Examination is to evaluate the student's ability to think as a scientist, i.e., to propose and critically evaluate experiments or method developments that would potentially expand knowledge in the principal field of study. To this end, the student writes a proposal following the style of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Research Service Award (NRSA) applications, and, one or two weeks after submission of the written proposal to the doctoral committee, defends the proposal in an oral presentation. The topic of the proposal is related to the ongoing research project of the student in the laboratory of the faculty mentor. However, in the Departmental Written Qualifying Examination the project itself is not under evaluation, as it is expected to be in its early stages. The oral part of the examination consists of a discussion of the proposal and of any additional questions posed by the committee to probe the student's general knowledge and understanding of human genetics.

The University Oral Qualifying Examination should take place before the end of the fourth year in the graduate program, preferably one year earlier. The goal of this examination is to evaluate the dissertation research project, i.e., whether it represents original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the principal field of study, as well as whether it is feasible for the students to complete the project within the expected time-to-degree. To this end, the student submits a written proposal that clearly states the title and specific aims of the doctoral dissertation and explains the significance, progress to date, and the approach(es) and time line to bring the project to completion. One or two weeks after submission of the written component, the student defends the proposal in an oral presentation before the doctoral committee.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students are advanced to candidacy upon successful completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations.

Doctoral Dissertation

Every doctoral degree program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student's ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the principal field of study.

Final Oral Examination (Defense of Dissertation)

Required for all students in the program.

Time-to-Degree

The time from entry into the program to completion of the doctorate is expected to be approximately five years.

Termination of Graduate Study and Appeal of Termination

University Policy

A student who fails to meet the above requirements may be recommended for termination of graduate study. A graduate student may be disqualified from continuing in the graduate program for a variety of reasons. The most common is failure to maintain the minimum cumulative grade point average (3.00) required by the Academic Senate to remain in good standing (some programs require a higher grade point average). Other examples include failure of examinations, lack of timely progress toward the degree and poor performance in core courses. Probationary students (those with cumulative grade point averages below 3.00) are subject to immediate dismissal upon the recommendation of their department. University guidelines governing termination of graduate students, including the appeal procedure, are outlined in Standards and Procedures for Graduate Study at UCLA.

Special Departmental or Program Policy

Doctoral students must complete and pass the Departmental Written Qualifying Examination (also known as the 'First Exam') by the end of their fourth year in the program. Students will be allowed two opportunities to pass the examination within the above time frame and if the examination is not passed, the student will be recommended for termination of graduate study.