Candidates are eligible for graduation upon successful completion of all core, elective, and research credits, as well as passing performance on the Qualifying Examination, Preliminary Examination (advancement to candidacy), and successful defense of a written dissertation. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required for all coursework, and no grade below a B is allowed for any core course.
Graduate Advisory Committee & Thesis Advisor
At the end of the second semester of study the student will select a participating TBMH faculty member to serve as the student's thesis advisor, supervise the student's research, and chair the student’s Advisory Committee. If appropriate and acceptable to the thesis advisor, the student may opt to take on a clinical co-mentor. By the end of the third academic semester of study, each student must form an Advisory Committee, to be composed of the thesis advisor and a minimum of three other faculty members. The committee must include faculty from at least three different departments, including one faculty member representing a different stage of the translational research spectrum relative to the student’s research.
Individual Development Plans
Each student will develop an Individual Development Plan (IDP) in their Professional Development course, which will evolve over time in consultation with their Thesis Advisor, and will be considered at the student’s annual evaluation. The purpose of the IDP is for setting annual research, education, and career development goals. Goals may include publications, fellowship submissions, attendance at professional meetings, publications, patents, clinical activity, professional activities, or research project goals.
A qualifying examination is required and serves to evaluate the student's mastery of fundamental knowledge from the first year of coursework, assess their ability to evaluate literature in the biomedical and health sciences, and to diagnose deficiencies. The examination must be taken by the end of the second semester.
Advancement to Ph.D. Candidacy
In order to advance to Ph.D. candidacy, students must have completed all required coursework, and must take a written and oral Preliminary Examination, administered by the student's Advisory Committee. For the written component, the student will prepare his/her dissertation research proposal in the format of an NIH F31 predoctoral fellowship proposal. The oral examination will cover the proposed research plan, including the student's knowledge of the literature, the feasibility and originality of the proposed work, and all course material. A student who fails will be allowed only one additional attempt to retake the exam one semester later. The student's Advisory Committee must approve the research topic and plan in order for the student to continue in his or her research studies.
Upon completing all other degree requirements, and at a minimum of six months after the preliminary examination, students will prepare a written dissertation describing the completed research. The dissertation should be approved by the student's thesis advisor and provided to each of the committee members at least two weeks prior to the oral examination (dissertation defense). Upon successful completion of the dissertation and public defense, students may apply for graduation from Virginia Tech with the Doctor of Philosophy in Translational Biology, Medicine and Health.
Time to Completion
It is expected that students will take from four to five years to complete the degree, depending on the student's background and research interests.