In the second year, students defend their doctoral thesis research proposal, and, in their last year, they defend a proposal for postdoctoral studies. Students are awarded the Ph.D. degree after successful defense of a thesis that describes their original research.
Watson School Students at work in Urey Cottage
Doctoral Thesis Research Proposal and Thesis Advisory Committee
In January of the second year, students defend a written doctoral thesis research proposal. The proposal includes a clear outline of goals and specific aims and describes the broader scientific context and debate surrounding the proposed research. After successful oral defense of the research proposal, a thesis advisory committee consisting of the research mentor, academic mentor, and the thesis research proposal examining committee is constituted to guide the student with his or her doctoral research.
Thesis Preparation and Defense
With the approval of the thesis advisory committee, each student prepares a written thesis on his or her original research. To defend the thesis, students present a public seminar and are subsequently examined by the thesis committee and an additional examiner external to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. A satisfactory defense and fulfillment of all curricular requirements results in the granting of the Ph.D. degree. The Watson School of Biological Sciences graduate program is designed so that students can complete their doctoral studies in approximately four years. If, at four years, a student and thesis committee agree that more than four and one-half years are required to complete the doctoral program, the student and thesis committee may petition for an extension.