BSGP Mileposts

Use these mileposts as a yearly guide to help you stay on target.  Students failing to meet these mileposts must petition the BSGP Steering Committee for continuation in the program.

photo: UNM HSC Students looking into microscopesBSGP Mileposts: Year One

Your first year is about getting to know the program, finding a Research Mentor, and taking your Qualifying Exam:

  • Core coursework will introduce you to the Biomedical Sciences field,
  • Lab rotations, at least 3, will introduce you to research being done here and a variety of potentials mentors, one of which must be chosen by March,
  • And you will demonstrate your knowledge in the Qualifying Exam in May.

**Don't forget to complete the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report!

Complete all required coursework:

Complete the first year curriculum:

  • BIOM 501: Fundamentals for Graduate Research - 1 credit
  • BIOM 506 (3): Special Topics in Biomedical Research (lab rotations) - 3 credits total
  • BIOM 507: Advanced Molecular Biology - 4 credits
  • BIOM 508: Advanced Cellular Biology - 4 credits
  • BIOM 525 (Fall, Spring): Cell and Molecular Basis of Disease (CMBD) Journal Club - 4 credits total
  • BIOM 530 (Fall, Spring): Cell and Molecular Basis of Disease (CMBD) Seminar - 2 credits total
  • Selectives (3) - 9 credits total

And maintain good standing:

  • Enroll for at least half-time credit hours (6 in Fall/Spring, 3 in Summer)
  • Cumulative GPA greater than or equal to 3.0
  • No grade less than B- in the BSGP core curriculum and selectives

Complete at least three lab rotations:

BSGP students must complete at least 3 lab rotations during their first Fall and Spring semesters. 

Prior to each rotation, complete a Rotation Agreement Form.

After your rotation, complete a Rotation Evaluation Form and return to the BREP office so the grade may be recorded.

Identify a research mentor:

Prior to March 15 of your first year, a Research Mentor must be identified. 

This is the person in whose lab you will work, who will be financially responsible for your stipend, and who, along with your Committee on Studies, will supervise your training program.

Complete the Mentor Agreement Form and return to the BREP office. Note:  This form documents the source(s) of funding for the student and must be signed by the student, mentor and department chair prior to bring delivered to the BREP Office.

Take the Qualifying Exam:

Who has to take the Qualifying Exam?

  • All first year PhD students. 
  • Any MS student wishing to change to the PhD program.

Why is a Qualifying Exam required?

To test critical thinking skills in the context of the first year coursework. Specifically, the exam will assess the student’s ability:

  • to critically read a scientific paper,
  • to develop a line of questioning based on the chosen paper,
  • to outline an experimental approach that addresses questions arising from the chosen paper,
  • to utilize the general knowledge covered in the first year courses.

It should provide the Steering Committee with an opportunity to decide which students are prepared to make the transition from programmatic core and selective courses to dissertation research and divisional requirements.

What is the process for taking the Qualifying Exam?

  1. Meet prerequisites:
    • First year coursework complete.
    • Good academic standing.
    • At least three lab rotations complete.
    • Research Mentor identified and Mentor Agreement in place.
  2. Petition to take the exam by the deadlines below.  Your petition should:
    • Be brief, no more than a page.
    • Include your desire to continue on to the PhD, that you are in good academic standing, and a personal statement about your goals.
    • Address any issues with exam prerequisites.
  3. Attend the Prep session
  4. Papers are assigned (5 days prior to exam)
  5. Take your Exam

An email will come from the BREP Office with instructions and eligibility requirements.  For more information about the process and expectations:

When are the Qualifying Exam deadlines?

Qualifying Exam Spring Mid-Year Exam
First-year BSGP Students are notified of Qualifying Exam Dates and deadlines April 1 November 1
Deadline for student petitions to take Qualifying Exam April 30 November 30
Requests to course directors for papers April Mid November
Deadline for papers from course directors May Mid December
Exam committee meets to choose papers and organize the exam Early May Early December
Steering Committee meets to approve student petitions (first Thursday of the month) Mid May Mid December
Qualifying Exam Prep Session (given by Program Director and QE Chair) Late May Mid January
Students turn in selected papers (exam is held 5 days after paper choice) Late May Mid January
Exams Late May Mid January

Begin identifying your Committee on Studies (COS):

Prior to June of your first year, be identifying potential members of your Committee on Studies. 

This is the group that will guide your training program through taking your Comprehensive Exams (PhD) or Defense (MS) and must comply with the Student Committee Composition rules (Master's Exam) set forth by the Office of Graduate Studies.  To determine the Category to which your members belong, review the Guidelines for Committee Service.

To form your committee, complete the Appointment of Committee on Studies (COS) Form.

Once formed, you should meet with this group at least once every 6 months and report on that meeting:

After each meeting, complete the Committee on Studies (COS) Meeting Report Form.

All forms should be submitted to the BREP office for final signatures (Department Chair, Program Director, Dean), recording, and courier to Graduate Studies as necessary.

Complete your Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report:

The BSGP requires every student to complete the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report.  The purpose of this report is to gather information on student activities that are relevant to his/her research education and professional development.  The Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report should be presented at each Committee on Studies meeting to assist the committee in review of student progress.  Additionally, the BREP office will compile this information for reports to the School of Medicine, the University of New Mexico, and external review panels.

Completion of the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report is required for students to be eligible for BSGP Travel Awards.

Exceptions for MS students:

Master’s students may take more than one year to complete the required core curriculum.

Only two rotations are required for Master’s students. If a Master’s student wishes to petition for a change of degree to the PhD program, three rotations will be required

MS students who wish to change to the PhD program:

Students admitted to the Master's program may petition to change to the PhD program by:

  • Completing at least three lab rotations.
  • Securing a commitment of support from the proposed graduate mentor.
  • Petitioning to take the Qualifying Exam
    • Be brief, no more than a page.
    • Include your desire to change to the PhD, that you are in good academic standing, and a personal statement about your goals.
  • If approved to take the Qualifying Exam, it must be taken and passed following the deadlines and processes noted above.
  • Complete the Change of Degree Form and return it to the BREP office.

photo: UNM HSC Student researchersBSGP Mileposts: Year Two

During the second year you will continue in core courses and begin work in your Mentor's lab.

If you are planning to graduate with the Master's degree, there are several things to take care of in this year, please see below.

**Don't forget to complete the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report!

Complete all required coursework:

Complete the second year curriculum:

  • BIOM 555 (no later that Spring of your 2nd year): Problem-Based Research Bioethics - 1 credit
  • BIOM 530 (Fall, Spring): Cell and Molecular Basis of Disease (CMBD) Seminar - 2 credits total
    Note: Your Departmental seminar may be taken in lieu of CMBD in the second year.
  • Any remaining Selectives
  • Departmental required courses

And maintain good standing:

  • Enroll for at least half-time credit hours (6 in Fall/Spring, 3 in Summer)
  • Cumulative GPA greater than or equal to 3.0
  • No grade less than B- in the BSGP core curriculum and selectives

Appoint your Committee on Studies (COS):

Prior to the last day of the Fall semester, you should have Appointed your Committee on Studies. 

This is the group that will guide your training program through taking your Comprehensive Exams (PhD) or Defense (MS) and must comply with the Student Committee Composition rules (Master's Exam) set forth by the Office of Graduate Studies.  To determine the Category to which your members belong, review the Guidelines for Committee Service.

To form your committee, complete the Appointment of Committee on Studies (COS) Form.

Once formed, you should meet with this group at least once every 6 months and report on that meeting:

After each meeting, complete the Committee on Studies (COS) Meeting Report Form.

All forms should be submitted to the BREP office for final signatures (Department Chair, Program Director, Dean), recording, and courier to Graduate Studies as necessary.

Hold your first Committee on Studies (COS) meeting:

Hold this meeting prior to the end of the Spring semester to review your academic progress, discuss and formulate an Application for Candidacy (PhD) or Program of Studies (MS) which outlines coursework and research hours to meet your educational and research goals, and review the outline or plan for your dissertation project.

Note that the first COS meeting need not involve a formal review of a dissertation proposal.

Continue to meet with this group at least once every 6 months and report after each meeting, complete the Committee on Studies (COS) Meeting Report Form and return it to the BREP office.

Hold your second Committee on Studies (COS) meeting:

Hold this meeting no later than six months after your first meeting to review your progress.  At this meeting your proposed Application for Candidacy (PhD) or Program of Studies (MS) and dissertation plan will be reviewed.  You should also present a draft of proposed specific aims and initial feasibility data.

Submit your Application for Candidacy (PhD) or Program of Studies (MS) (see Resources for instructions on completing these forms) form to the BREP office for final signatures (Department Chair, Program Director, Dean), recording, and courier to Graduate Studies as necessary.

Continue to meet with this group at least once every 6 months and report after each meeting, complete the Committee on Studies (COS) Meeting Report Form and return it to the BREP office.

Present at at least one of these:

Time to start demonstrating your knowledge by presenting on the work you have been doing at one of the following:

  • A Divisional Seminar
  • BSGP Research Day
  • Scientific meeting

Complete your Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report:

The BSGP requires every student to complete the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report.  The purpose of this report is to gather information on student activities that are relevant to his/her research education and professional development.  The Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report should be presented at each Committee on Studies meeting to assist the committee in review of student progress.  Additionally, the BREP office will compile this information for reports to the School of Medicine, the University of New Mexico, and external review panels.

Completion of the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report is required for students to be eligible for BSGP Travel Awards.

Exceptions for MS students:

MS Students are expected to comply with requirements for the COS appointment and meetings. Instead of reviewing their dissertation project proposal, the COS should focus on the development and evaluation of an appropriate thesis research project. 

Consult UNM Catalog if completing thesis.

I'm planning to complete a Master's degree. What forms are necessary?

Be sure to review the Master's Degree - Graduation Requirements information from the Office of Graduate Studies and the BSGP Graduation Checklist for details.  At a minimum you will need the following:

All forms should be submitted to the BREP office for final signatures (Department Chair, Program Director, Dean), recording, and courier to Graduate Studies as necessary.

Once complete, provide a copy of your Thesis to the BREP office as well.

photo: UNM HSC student researcherBSGP Mileposts: Year Three

Year three is about getting ready for Candidacy.  This means you should be planning to take your Comprehensive Exam in the Spring which allows you to Advance to Candidacy and begin working on your Dissertation!

Tip from a graduate ...

  • Writing the Dissertation takes a while, but making the figures takes a notoriously long time too. You can begin to make figures early on so start keeping a file of "figures for dissertation/papers" now so you don’t have to root through piles of other data to find that graph when you need it later.

**Don't forget to complete the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report!

Hold Committee on Studies (COS) meetings:

Hold these meetings at least every six months to review your progress, address any concerns, and get your questions answered. 

If not already done, submit your COS approved Application for Candidacy (see Resources for instructions on completing this form) to the BREP office for final signatures (Department Chair, Program Director, Dean), recording, and courier to Graduate Studies as necessary.  This should be done prior to taking your Comprehensive Exam.

Continue to meet with this group at least once every 6 months and report after each meeting, complete the Committee on Studies (COS) Meeting Report Form and return it to the BREP office.

Take the Comprehensive Exam:

What is the Comprehensive Exam?

Your Comprehensive Exam will consist of a proposal outlining your research plans and an oral examination. Although data supporting the feasibility of the project is recommended, extensive preliminary data is not required. 

When should the Comprehensive Exam be taken?

No later than the Spring semester of your third year.

What is the process for taking the Comprehensive Exam?

  1. Review the Comprehensive Exam Checklist
  2. Schedule your Exam:
    • Your Committee members need to attend.
    • Reserve a room large enough for your Committee and guests.  Be sure to familiarize yourself with the audio/visual equipment prior to your Exam.
    • No later that the Spring semester of your third year.
  3. Announcement of Exam Form (first page) is due to BREP at least three weeks prior to your exam so we can get it to OGS at least two weeks prior.
  4. Advertise your Exam:
    • Create your Exam Flyer (BREP template, your department may have their own version).
    • Email it to BREP@salud.unm.edu so it may be included in the Digest and posted on the BREP bulletin board.
    • Post it in your department and elsewhere.
  5. Submit your Dissertation Proposal to your Committee at least two weeks prior to the scheduled exam.
  6. Report of Exam Form (second page)

All forms should be submitted to the BREP office for final signatures (Department Chair, Program Director, Dean), recording, and courier to Graduate Studies as necessary.

Appoint your Dissertation Committee:

Once you have Advanced to Candidacy, you should form your Dissertation Committee.

This is the group that will guide your training program through writing and defending your Dissertation and must comply with the Student Committee Composition rules set forth by the Office of Graduate Studies.  To determine the Category to which your members belong, review the Guidelines for Committee Service.

To form your committee, complete the Appointment of Dissertation Committee Form.

Once formed, you should meet with this group at least once every 6 months and report on that meeting:

After each meeting, complete the Committee on Studies (COS) Meeting Report Form (same form used for Dissertation and COS meetings).

All forms should be submitted to the BREP office for final signatures (Department Chair, Program Director, Dean), recording, and courier to Graduate Studies as necessary.

I've passed Comps, now what?

Now you apply for Candidacy and continue working with your Committee.

Complete the Application for Candidacy Form (see Resources for instructions on completing this form) and return to the BREP office.Chair will sign in this section again.

Once you and your Committee Chair have signed, the form should be submitted to the BREP office for final signatures (Graduate Director), recording, and courier to Graduate Studies.

Complete your Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report:

The BSGP requires every student to complete the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report.  The purpose of this report is to gather information on student activities that are relevant to his/her research education and professional development.  The Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report should be presented at each Committee on Studies meeting to assist the committee in review of student progress.  Additionally, the BREP office will compile this information for reports to the School of Medicine, the University of New Mexico, and external review panels.

Completion of the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report is required for students to be eligible for BSGP Travel Awards.

photo: UNM HSC students in the pharmacy labBSGP Mileposts: Years Four and Five

Research, research, research ... and collecting information (figures, citations, data, etc.) for your Dissertation. 

If you are planning a career in academia, these are the years to pursue you Certificate in University Science Teaching, you should already have at least one course toward completion (BIOM 540).

**Don't forget to complete the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report!

What forms to I need for a dissertation committee meeting?

Once formed, you should meet with this group at least once every 6 months and report on that meeting:

After each meeting, complete the Committee on Studies (COS) Meeting Report Form (same form used for Dissertation and COS meetings) and return it to the BREP office.

Complete your Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report:

The BSGP requires every student to complete the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report.  The purpose of this report is to gather information on student activities that are relevant to his/her research education and professional development.  The Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report should be presented at each Committee on Studies meeting to assist the committee in review of student progress.  Additionally, the BREP office will compile this information for reports to the School of Medicine, the University of New Mexico, and external review panels.

Completion of the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report is required for students to be eligible for BSGP Travel Awards.

photo: UNM HSC students in the pharmacy labBSGP Mileposts: Final Year

The end is nigh! 

There are lots of I's to dot and T's to cross in order to graduate and strict timelines in which to accomplish them.  The term PRIOR to the one in which you plan to graduate will require your attention.  Review the Doctoral Degrees - Graduation Requirements from Graduate Studies for details.

Tips from graduates ...

  • For the MOST up to date checklist of forms and timeline you need to follow, EVERYONE should attend a Manuscript Workshop offered by Graduate Studies, it's SO much more than formatting! They go over everything you need and when you need it by and have hard copies of all the forms you need right there at the workshop. There is a list of dates for these workshops available at the OGS website.
  • DON’T just attend this workshop a few weeks before your defense, there is a serious timeline you need to follow with some forms due the semester PRIOR to your defense! attend early in the  semester before you plan to go so you know what you're getting into.

**Don't forget to complete the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report!

Defending your Dissertation

Be sure to review the Manuscript Quick Reference Checklist and Submission Procedures from Graduate Studies for detailed information.  In addition, you will need the following:

All forms should be submitted to the BREP office for final signatures, recording, and courier to Graduate Studies.

Complete MS Graduation Requirements:

Be sure to review the Master's Degree - Graduation Requirements information from the Office of Graduate Studies and the BSGP Graduation Checklist for details.  At a minimum you will need the following:

  • Program of Studies Form (due no later than the semester prior to graduation):
    • Section 4:
      Choose "Master's Degree" unless you are also completing the Certificate in University Science Teaching, then choose "Master's Degree (plus Graduate Certificate)"
      Degree Abbreviation (Primary Program): "Master's of Science"
      Major: "Biomedical Sciences"
      Banner Major Code: "MS-BIOM"
      If completing the Certificate, also fill in the following:
      Degree Abbreviation (Certificate): "Graduate Certificate"
      Major: "University Science Teaching"
      Banner Major Code: "GCERT-UST"
    • Section 7: Choose "Plan I (with thesis)"
    • Section 8: Enter the Semester (Fall, Spring, Summer) and Year you intend to graduate.
    • Section 9: Choose the year you entered the program.
    • Section 13: Enter all courses used for the Certificate, if you are completing it. Courses listed here should also appear in the preceding sections, 10-12. Use additional pages if more lines are required.
  • BREP Intent to Graduate Form is due no later than the semester before you plan to complete.
  • Announcement of Exam Form (first page) is due to BREP at least three weeks prior to your exam so we can get it to OGS at least two weeks prior.  Don't forget to give us your Exam Flyer.
  • Report of Exam Form (second page)
  • BREP Exit Information Form

All forms should be submitted to the BREP office for final signatures (Department Chair, Program Director, Dean), recording, and courier to Graduate Studies as necessary.

Once complete, provide a copy of your Thesis to the BREP office as well.

Complete PhD Graduation Requirements:

Be sure to review Doctoral Degrees - Graduation Requirements from the Office of Graduate Studies and the BSGP Graduation Checklist for details.  At a minimum you will need the following:

All forms should be submitted to the BREP office for final signatures, recording, and courier to Graduate Studies.

Once complete, provide a copy of your Dissertation to the BREP office as well.

Complete your Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report:

The BSGP requires every student to complete the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report.  The purpose of this report is to gather information on student activities that are relevant to his/her research education and professional development.  The Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report should be presented at each Committee on Studies meeting to assist the committee in review of student progress.  Additionally, the BREP office will compile this information for reports to the School of Medicine, the University of New Mexico, and external review panels.

Completion of the Annual Activities and Accomplishments Report is required for students to be eligible for BSGP Travel Awards.

photo: UNM HSC studentsBSGP Mileposts: Post graduation

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