5. STARTING THE PhD PROGRAM (PRE-CANDIDACY)
This section of the Handbook contains information about the first four semesters of the Chemistry Graduate Program, beginning with a description of the Stony Brook Graduate School’s academic levels, and how a student can advance to become a PhD candidate. Throughout the first three semesters at Stony Brook, each graduate student's coursework and research will be evaluated by the process described below (in this Handbook, "Semester" refers to Fall or Spring semesters only, unless summer is explicitly indicated). At the end of this period, students with satisfactory performance will be qualified to either the Direct Track to Ph.D. or the M.S. Thesis Track in the Ph.D. program.
5.1 Academic Levels
Graduate students at Stony Brook are classified as G1, G2, G3, G4, or G5, and the required number of credits a student must register for in the Fall and Spring semesters varies by level:
|G1||1st year M.S. student who has completed <24 graduate credits||12|
|G2||Advanced M.S. student who has completed ≥24 graduate credits.||9|
|G3||1st year Ph.D. student who has completed who has completed <24 graduate credits||12|
|G4||Advanced Ph.D. student who has completed ≥24 graduate credits.||9|
|G5||Advanced Ph.D. student enrolled in a doctoral degree program that has been advanced to candidacy for the doctoral degree.||9*|
*Unless instructed otherwise.
The conversion from G4 to G5 is an administrative change that is done by the Department and the Graduate School when a student is advanced to PhD candidacy through completion of coursework, research, teaching, and the First and Second Meetings with their Advancement to Candidacy Committee (ACC).
5.2. Advising During the First Academic Year
- A faculty member of the Graduate Advising Committee (GAdvC) serves as the student's academic advisor when he or she enrolls. The advisor uses the student’s prior academic record to help the student plan a program which will provide the background needed in the student's area of concentration.
- The student's Research Advisor, when selected, participates in the advising by consultation with the student and with the GAdvC.
- The responsibility for advising each student passes to the ACC at the end of the student's first year (See Section 6.1).
- The GAdvC, in consultation with the GPD, is charged with the evaluation of transfer credits for students entering with advanced standing according to the policies described in Section 5.4.
5.3. Course of Study before Qualification to Candidacy
- See the Graduate Bulletin for a detailed discussion of course requirements and grades.
- The minimum requirements for qualification to the Ph.D. degree are twelve credits of approved graduate courses, nine of which must be from chemistry courses chosen from CHE 501 through 559. Students are also required to complete CHE 581 and CHE 582.
- A student doing no research during their first two semesters is expected to take at least 18 credits of formal courses.
- A student participating in rotations in research groups (CHE 599) is expect to complete 15 credits in formal courses prior to candidacy.
- A student taking fewer than 18 credits is expected to make a strong beginning in research and submit a research report to the Graduate Program Director at the end of the academic year.
- Normally, all students will begin research by the summer of their first year.
- At the end of the first year, a student with a G.P.A. below B- (2.67) for scientific graduate courses, or with unsatisfactory performance in courses with S/U grading, may be dismissed from the graduate program if there is not strong evidence of improvement.
5.4. Policies for Graduate Transfer Credit
The GPD, in consultation with the GAdvC, may award credit toward the degree requirements of the Department for graduate courses taken at other institutions. If such transfer credit is desired, the student should submit a transfer credit request during Orientation Week to the GPD, who will consult with members of the GAdvC.
- Upon request, other degree requirements may be modified by the GPD, in consultation with the GAdvC. These changes are based on the satisfactory completion of similar or equivalent work at another institution.
- Qualification to candidacy may be based totally or in part on the student's previous work. Typically, students with significant graduate transfer credit will take at least 2 courses at Stony Brook.
5.5. Selection of Research Advisor
- A student's Research Advisor is the faculty member with whom the student chooses to work as an apprentice in research. Most often, the student selects a problem from among several that the professor may suggest as appropriate for the M.S. thesis or the Ph.D. dissertation and then, as the research progresses, the student becomes able to contribute to the direction of the work.
- During the Fall semester, at scheduled meetings of the Departmental Research Seminar (CHE 581), faculty members briefly describe their research interests and activities for the information of new graduate students and are available for more detailed research discussions.
- New students are expected to inform themselves further about the research interests of at least four faculty members by reading publications from the faculty members’ work and especially by visiting those professors whose work appears to be of greatest interest. These visits are the occasion for detailed discussions of the research the student might undertake for the degree. Other matters appropriate for discussion between the student and a prospective advisor are coursework or other requirements that the professor feels are essential for work in their group and availability of research funding. If a professor believes that his/her group is not appropriate for the student, that too may be discussed.
- A student whose interests lie in one of the areas of chemistry that contributes strongly to an area represented by another department at Stony Brook may select a faculty member in that department as his/her Research Advisor. The approval of both department Chairs is required for the selection of a Research Advisor from another department. If the Research Advisor is not an affiliate of the Chemistry Department, then a co-advisor from the Chemistry Department must also be chosen.
- In choosing a Research Advisor, the student should bear in mind that the number of graduate students that may join a research group each year may be limited by such considerations as the nature of the group's research program, the present size of the group, and the amount of research grant funds available for the support of the group's students and their research programs.
- The Research Advisor selection form is to be submitted in early January (the exact date will be announced each year). On this form, the student lists at least four professors with whom prospective research projects have been discussed in detail, and at least three choices of Research Advisor in order of preference.
- The final selections of Research Advisor will be made jointly through open consultations among the student, the Chair, and the professors involved. In the vast majority of cases, each student's first choice of Research Advisor will be approved.
- It is the aim of the department that all Ph.D. students who are in good standing as defined in **Section 11.1** of this Handbook receive continued financial support. The implementation of this policy depends upon the efficient use of funds available from research grants, the Department, and the University for the support of graduate students. Because the resources available to the Department are limited, it is necessary for research programs to be supported as much as possible by grants and contracts from outside agencies. Departmental support cannot necessarily be guaranteed to those students who fail to join a research group by the end of the second semester.
- Whenever an advanced student is in need of support in the form of a teaching assistantship, the factors that will be taken into account are the student's past performance in teaching, the overall needs of the graduate students in general, the needs of the Department's teaching and research programs, and whether the student is in good standing.
- Some professors may prefer not to accept a student until a full year of coursework has been completed, depending on research area and the need for background coursework. Nonetheless, all students must submit their Research Advisor selection forms by the deadline stated in above in order to permit the Chair to begin examining the overall needs of graduate students for support at a sufficiently early date.
- Student and Research Advisor normally work together very closely, and each has a vital interest in the progress of their collaboration. In a small fraction of cases, differences of opinion or divergent interests may develop such that the student chooses a new Research Advisor. Of course, such decisions after a substantial time spent in the original group tend to lengthen the time it takes to earn a degree.
5.6. Advancement to Candidacy Committee (ACC)
In the Chemistry Department, an ACC is designated for each student to aid in their progress to PhD candidacy advancement or to an MS degree. The ACC consists of at least three faculty members (two of whom must be members of the Chemistry Department) and includes the student’s research advisor. Students have three formal meetings with the ACC, two before advancement to candidacy and one after, but before defending the dissertation. Usually, the ACC members will also serve on the dissertation examination committee.
- Early in the first semester of each academic year, the Graduate Program Director will assign ACCs for all second year graduate students.
- When scheduling meetings with his/her ACC, the student should contact each committee member at least one month in advance of the desired meeting date. Given this advance notice, the committee members will make every effort to find time for the meeting. Scheduling meetings with less advance notice, or for periods when classes are not in session, may be difficult.
- In addition to the formal 1st, 2nd, and 3rd ACC meetings, described below, students in the 3rd year or beyond will provide the members of their ACCs with an annual written progress statement, typically at the end of the fall semester.