Goals for each year in our Graduate Degree Programs

Here, we outline goals for research, coursework, and funding for each year of your graduate training in the Department of Biology.

Each graduate degree is unique! Differences among disciplines, projects, and labs will mean that every student has a different path to successful completion of the degree requirements. You, your advisor, and your committee will create a plan that is right for you. However, this will give you an overall idea of the path from start to finish that you and your cohort are on.

The Graduate School has a page called “Steps to Student Degree” that outlines all of the required forms you’ll need to complete during your time at CSU.

This page can be accessed here.

Masters

First Year
Research Goals
  1. Form your Graduate Advisory Committee. Committee membership has certain requirements that are described here.
  2. With guidance from your committee, establish your Research Program, including plans for the coursework and lab/field/analytical training needed to achieve your research goals.
  3. Obtain all necessary training, certification, and approvals (e.g. IACUC, radiation safety, Biosafety, scientific collecting permits). A list of such training can be found here: https://www.biology.colostate.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/21/2014/10/Laboratory_personnel_decision_tree.pdf. Your PI will determine what is relevant/required for you, depending on your area of study.
  4. Engage in independent literature review, including both classic papers and contemporary literature relevant to your research program.
  5. Complete experiments that demonstrate the feasibility of your research plan, and obtain some preliminary results. Work towards mastery of the experimental, field, and analytical techniques required for the success of your project.
  6. Identify the top 5 journals in your discipline and browse every issue.
  7. Attend research seminars in a broad range of disciplines.
Course Goals
  1. Complete up to 20 credits. To complete a Master’s Degree, you will need 30 total credits. 16 such credits must be in 500-level or higher courses; 12 of those 16 credits must be regular courses (i.e. not internships, seminars, independent studies, etc.). Information on CSU’s Master’s Degree credit requirements can be found here.
  2. Enroll in our Departmental Seminar Series course (BZ 692H) in both the fall and spring semesters. Note that during the fall semester, this course includes activities specifically designed for new graduate students.
Funding Goals
  1. Follow the requirements for obtaining a GTA position, if appropriate. GTA positions are requested through the Financial Support section of our department’s Grad Database.
  2. Submit applications for fellowships and research grants, if appropriate.
Metrics of Progress
  1. Submit the GS6 form (Program of Study) to Dorothy Ramirez, the Biology Graduate Coordinator, by the spring semester of your first year. This form outlines the formal plan for your graduate training.
  2. Submit an Annual Progress Report in the spring semester outlining your progress towards your degree in the previous year and your plans and goals for the upcoming year. The Annual Progress Report is submitted through the Progress Reports section of our department’s Grad Database, which can be accessed here.
  3. Hold a meeting with your Graduate Advisory Committee to get their feedback on your plans, triumphs, and challenges. Let your committee know about your career goals for your post-degree years. What type of job are you hoping to get? Engage your committee to help you be sure that you are getting the experience and exposure you need to succeed.

Forms likely relevant for Year 1:

All of the following forms can be obtained here: http://www.graduateschool.colostate.edu/current-students/forms/index.aspx

GS6 Program of Study

Late registration request (for adding or withdrawing from courses after deadline)

Second Year
Research Goals
  1. Complete your data collection and analysis.
  2. Present your work at a conference (local, regional, or national as appropriate).
  3. Write your thesis with the goal of publishing your work.
  4. Continue following the top journals in relevant disciplines to obtain depth.
  5. Continue attending campus-wide research seminars to obtain breadth.
Course Goals
  1. Complete the 30 total credits to fulfill CSU’s Master’s Degree credit requirements. 16 such credits must be in 500-level or higher courses; 12 of those 16 credits must be regular courses (i.e. not internships, seminars, independent studies, etc.). Information on CSU’s Master’s Degree credit requirements can be found here: http://www.graduateschool.colostate.edu/current-students/student-resources/credit-requirements/masters-degrees.aspx
  2. If you are a GTA, enroll in 1 credit of Supervised College Teaching (BZ 784).
Funding Goals
  1. Follow the requirements for obtaining a GTA position, if appropriate. GTA positions are requested through the Financial Support section of our department’s Grad Database, which can be accessed here: https://apply.www.biology.colostate.edu/gradmin.
  2. Submit applications for fellowships, research grants, and post-graduation jobs, if appropriate.
Metrics of Progress
  1. Submit GS25 (Application for Graduation)
  2. Submit thesis to your committee and the Departmental Chair
  3. Give a seminar on your thesis research immediately prior to your thesis defense with your committee; submit GS24 (Report of Exam).
  4. Submit final draft of thesis to Graduate School.
  5. Submit GS30 (Thesis/Dissertation Submission form)
  6. Discuss embargo restriction request for your dissertation with your committee (GS31).

Please note that the deadlines to submit some of these forms to the Graduate School are earlier than you might think! A list of deadline dates for students completing their degree requirements can be found here: http://graduateschool.colostate.edu/policies-and-procedures/deadline-dates

 

Forms likely relevant for Year 2+:

All of the following forms can be obtained here: http://www.graduateschool.colostate.edu/current-students/forms/index.aspx

GS25 Application for graduation

GS24 Report of final examination results

GS30 Thesis/Dissertation submission form

GS31 ETD Embargo restriction request

GS9A Petition for committee member changes

Late registration request (for adding or withdrawing from courses after deadline)

Request for continuous registration

PhD

First Year
Research Goals
  1. Form your Graduate Advisory Committee. Committee membership has certain requirements that are described here: http://www.graduateschool.colostate.edu/current-students/student-resources/committee.aspx
  2. With guidance from your committee, establish your Research Program, including plans for the coursework and lab/field/analytical training needed to achieve your research goals.
  3. Obtain all necessary training, certification, and approvals (e.g. IACUC, radiation safety, Biosafety, scientific collecting permits). A list of such training can be found here: https://www.biology.colostate.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/21/2014/10/Laboratory_personnel_decision_tree.pdf. Your PI will determine what is relevant/required for you, depending on your area of study.
  4. Identify the top 5 journals in your discipline and browse every issue.
  5. Attend research seminars in a broad range of disciplines
Course Goals
  1. Complete up to 26 credits of graduate coursework and/or independent study credits (500-level) foundational to your discipline. To complete a PhD, you will need 72 total credits. 37 such credits must be in 500-level or higher courses (which include internships, seminars, independent study, etc.). Information on CSU’s Ph.D. credit requirements can be found here: http://www.graduateschool.colostate.edu/current-students/student-resources/credit-requirements/phd-degree.aspx
  2. Enroll in our Departmental Seminar Series course (692H) in both the fall and spring semesters. Note that during the fall semester, this course includes activities specifically designed for new graduate students.
Funding Goals
  1. Follow the requirements for obtaining a GTA position, if appropriate. GTA positions are requested through the Financial Support section of our department’s Grad Database.
  2. Submit applications for fellowships and research grants, if appropriate.
Metrics of Progress
  1. Submit the GS6 form (Program of Study) to Dorothy Ramirez, the Biology Graduate Coordinator, during your first or second year. This form outlines the formal plan for your graduate training. The Graduate School deadline for GS6 submission is prior to the beginning of your fourth semester, but it can certainly be done in Year 1. The GS6 form can be accessed here: http://graduateschool.colostate.edu/policies-and-procedures/forms/gs6-program-of-study-resources
  2. Submit an Annual Progress Report in the spring semester outlining your progress towards your degree in the previous year and your plans and goals for the upcoming year. The Annual Progress Report is submitted through the Progress Reports section of our department’s Grad Database, which can be accessed here: https://apply.www.biology.colostate.edu/gradmin.
  3. Hold a meeting with your Graduate Advisory Committee to get their feedback on your plans, triumphs, and challenges.

Forms likely relevant for Year 1:

All of the following forms can be obtained here: http://www.graduateschool.colostate.edu/current-students/forms/index.aspx

GS6 Program of Study

Late registration request (for adding or withdrawing from courses after deadline)

Second Year
Research Goals
  1. Complete experiments that demonstrate the feasibility of your research plan, and obtain some preliminary results. Continue to work towards mastery of the experimental, field, and analytical techniques required for the success of your project.
  2. Engage in independent literature review of the topics that will be covered in the Qualifying Exam such that you gain depth and breadth of knowledge appropriate for PhD candidacy in your discipline. This should include both classic papers and contemporary literature. For some disciplines, preparation for the Qualifying Exam will include writing a project proposal.
  3. Continue following the top journals in relevant disciplines to obtain depth.
  4. Continue attending campus-wide research seminars to obtain breadth.
Course Goals
  1. Complete up to 42 credits by the end of Year 2. To complete a PhD, you will need 72 total credits. 37 such credits must be in 500-level or higher courses (which include internships, seminars, independent study, etc.). Information on CSU’s Ph.D. credit requirements can be found here: http://www.graduateschool.colostate.edu/current-students/student-resources/credit-requirements/phd-degree.aspx
  2. If you are a GTA, enroll in 1 credit of Supervised College Teaching (BZ 784).
Funding Goals
  1. Follow the requirements for obtaining a GTA position, if appropriate. GTA positions are requested through the Financial Support section of our department’s Grad Database, which can be accessed here: https://apply.www.biology.colostate.edu/gradmin.
  2. Submit applications for fellowships (e.g. NSF GRFP) and research grants, if appropriate.
Metrics of Progress
  1. Pass the qualifying exam (which includes written and oral components) and submit the GS16 form within 48 hours to the Graduate School.
  2. Submit an Annual Progress Report in the spring semester outlining your progress towards your degree in the previous year and your plans and goals for the upcoming year. The Annual Progress Report is submitted through the Progress Reports section of our department’s Grad Database, which can be accessed here: https://apply.www.biology.colostate.edu/gradmin.

 

Forms likely relevant for Year 2:

All of the following forms can be obtained here: http://www.graduateschool.colostate.edu/current-students/forms/index.aspx

GS16 Report of preliminary examination for the PhD degree

GS9A Petition for committee member changes

GS7 Request for change of department and/or degree program

Late registration request (for adding or withdrawing from courses after deadline

Third Year
Research Goals
  1. Give an oral presentation of your thesis proposal to your committee and/or broader departmental audience (especially fellow graduate students)
  2. Complete a dataset/set of results that forms the foundation for one dissertation chapter, if appropriate.
  3. Analyze this dataset in full, if appropriate.
  4. Present this work at a conference (local, regional, or national as appropriate).
  5. Begin working on publication of this work, if appropriate.
  6. Continue progress on other datasets/sets of results.
Course Goals
  1. Enroll in 10 credits (e.g. BZ 798) (5 per semester) to maintain steady progress towards the 72 total credits required to fulfill degree requirement while minimizing tuition/fees. Information on CSU’s Ph.D. credit requirements can be found here: http://www.graduateschool.colostate.edu/current-students/student-resources/credit-requirements/phd-degree.aspx
  2. If you are a GTA, enroll in 1 credit of Supervised College Teaching (BZ 784).
Funding Goals
  1. Follow the requirements for obtaining a GTA position, if appropriate. GTA positions are requested through the Financial Support section of our department’s Grad Database, which can be accessed here: https://apply.www.biology.colostate.edu/gradmin.
  2. Submit applications for fellowships (e.g. NSF DDIG) and research grants, if appropriate.
Metrics of Progress
  1. Submit an Annual Progress Report in the spring semester outlining your progress towards your degree in the previous year and your plans and goals for the upcoming year. The Annual Progress Report is submitted through the Progress Reports section of our department’s Grad Database, which can be accessed here: https://apply.www.biology.colostate.edu/gradmin.
  2. Hold a meeting with your Graduate Advisory Committee to get their feedback on your plans, triumphs, and challenges.

 

Forms likely relevant for Year 3:

All of the following forms can be obtained here: http://www.graduateschool.colostate.edu/current-students/forms/index.aspx

GS9A Petition for committee member changes

GS7 Request for change of department and/or degree program

Late registration request (for adding or withdrawing from courses after deadline)

Request for continuous registration

Fourth Year
Research Goals
  1. Establish your publication record
  2. Complete an additional dataset/set of results for a subsequent dissertation chapter, if appropriate
  3. Analyze this new dataset in full, if appropriate
  4. Present this new work at a conference (aim for higher exposure, e.g. national meetings, if appropriate)
  5. Begin working on publication of this work.
  6. Collaborate on colleagues’ projects (aiming for middle authorship) to gain research breadth.
Course Goals
  1. Enroll in 10 credits (e.g. BZ 798) (5 per semester) to maintain steady progress towards the 72 total credits required to fulfill degree requirement while minimizing tuition/fees. Information on CSU’s Ph.D. credit requirements can be found here: http://www.graduateschool.colostate.edu/current-students/student-resources/credit-requirements/phd-degree.aspx
  2. If you are a GTA, enroll in 1 credit of Supervised College Teaching (BZ 784).
Funding Goals
  1. Follow the requirements for obtaining a GTA position, if appropriate. GTA positions are requested through the Financial Support section of our department’s Grad Database, which can be accessed here: https://apply.www.biology.colostate.edu/gradmin.
  2. Submit applications for fellowships (e.g. NSF DDIG) and research grants, if appropriate.
Metrics of Progress
  1. Submit an Annual Progress Report in the spring semester outlining your progress towards your degree in the previous year and your plans and goals for the upcoming year. The Annual Progress Report is submitted through the Progress Reports section of our department’s Grad Database, which can be accessed here: https://apply.www.biology.colostate.edu/gradmin.
  2. Hold a meeting with your Graduate Advisory Committee meeting to get their feedback on your triumphs and challenges. Now is a good time to begin to establish clear goals for post-PhD years – What type of job are you hoping to get? If it’s an academic job, what kind of institution do you hope to join? If it’s a non-academic job, what type of organization do you hope to join? Engage your committee to help you be sure that you are getting the experience and exposure you need to succeed.

 

Forms likely relevant for Year 4:

All of the following forms can be obtained here: http://www.graduateschool.colostate.edu/current-students/forms/index.aspx

GS9A Petition for committee member changes

GS7 Request for change of department and/or degree program

Late registration request (for adding or withdrawing from courses after deadline)

Request for continuous registration

Fifth Year
Research Goals
  1. Build on your publication record
  2. Complete the dataset/set of results for your final dissertation chapter(s)
  3. Analyze this new dataset in full
  4. Present this new work at a conference (aim for higher exposure, e.g. national meetings, if appropriate)
  5. Complete this final work and the dissertation in its entirety.
  6. Complete existing collaborations on colleagues’ projects.
  7. Make contacts and begin to work towards lining up your next career move. If you will be applying for postdoctoral fellowships, check the deadlines – they are earlier than you may think!
Course Goals
  1. Enroll in 10 credits (e.g. BZ 798) (5 per semester) to complete the 72 total credits required to fulfill degree requirement while minimizing tuition/fees. Information on CSU’s Ph.D. credit requirements can be found here.
  2. If you are a GTA, enroll in 1 credit of Supervised College Teaching (BZ 784).
Funding Goals
  1. Follow the requirements for obtaining a GTA position, if appropriate. GTA positions are requested through the Financial Support section of our department’s Grad Database, which can be accessed here.
  2. Submit applications for fellowships and research grants, if appropriate.
Metrics of Progress
  1. Submit the GS 25 (Application for Graduation)
  2. Give a seminar to our department on your dissertation research.
  3. Submit the final draft of your dissertation to your committee and departmental Chair.
  4. Complete your Dissertation Defense and submit the GS24 (Report of Exam).
  5. Submit GS 30 (Thesis/Dissertation Submission form)
  6. Discuss the embargo restriction request for your dissertation with your committee (GS31)
  7. Submit the final draft of your dissertation to the Graduate School (Yay!!).

Please note that the deadlines to submit some of these forms to the Graduate School are earlier than you might think! A list of deadline dates for students completing their degree requirements can be found here.

 

Forms likely relevant for Year 4:

All of the following forms can be obtained here: http://www.graduateschool.colostate.edu/current-students/forms/index.aspx

  • GS25 Application for graduation
  • GS24 Report of final examination results
  • GS30 Thesis/Dissertation submission form
  • GS31 ETD Embargo restriction request
  • GS9A Petition for committee member changes
  • Late registration request (for adding or withdrawing from courses after deadline)
  • Request for continuous registration