PhD Dissertation Defense: Cancer Biology

The requirements for the PhD include: 

  • Passing all required coursework with a grade of B or better
  • Completing a minimum of 24 credit hours
  • The submission of a written dissertation to the dean of the graduate school at least 4 weeks prior to the proposed final examination date

Acceptance of the written dissertation by the advisory committee must occur at least 10 days prior to the proposed final examination date. The final examination must be passed at least 10 days prior to graduation.

Students should prepare for the final dissertation exam no later than the middle of their fifh year within the program, with the goal to schedule the exam at the end of their fifth year. The same guidelines regarding the submission of an outline and the written proposal are followed as outlined for the qualifying exam above. The student’s Dissertation Defense Committee is composed of the members of the advisory committee.

PhD Defense 

The defense of the dissertation begins with a formal seminar to the entire University community. The audience will be advised that the seminar is part of the examination and that they are encouraged to participate with questioning the candidate.

After the question-and-answer session, the examining committee will meet in a closed room to determine if the student’s performance during the seminar part was sufficient for passing the PhD defense requirements. If this should not be the case, the seminar will be followed by a formal examination with the committee.

The overall guidelines for the dissertation follow the graduation requirements of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Proposal Format

Format

The outline and the final proposal will be patterned after National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines for F32 applications. The student should consult with the examining committee on questions of format during the preparation of the proposal. The proposal should be clearly written in the student’s own words and should be carefully proofed for spelling and grammatical errors.

Outline Format

The outline should be no longer than 2 pages (single-spaced, 0.5” margin, Arial 11 points) and should consist of the following sections. 

  • Specific Aims:  A concise statement of the specific research objectives, including the hypotheses to be tested.
  • Justification:  Explain the significance of the project and its originality, placed in the context of a brief summary of previous work, from the student’s lab or others, done in the area.
  • Research Plan:  Summarize the experimental design to be used to address the specific aims, including methods to be used. 

Final Proposal Format 

The final proposal should be patterned after the NIH guidelines, with a maximum limit of 12 single-spaced pages. The student should consult with the examining committee on questions of format during the preparation of the proposal. Typing width should be no smaller than 15 characters per inch and type height should be 11 points (Arial). The final proposal should consist of the following sections. 

  • Abstract(one-half page): A short summary of the problem and the goals of the project. 
  • Specific Aims (1 page): A concise statement of the specific research objectives, including the hypotheses to be tested.
  • Significance and Innovation: A summary of the literature describing the present status of the field. The background section should place the proposed research in proper context. The significance and value of the proposed research should be included in this section.
  • Research Strategy:  Experiments and methods to be used to address the specific aims with a description of the results expected. This section should identify any special problems that are anticipated and describe alternatives.
  • References(pages not included in page limit): Techniques to be used and all work and ideas of others should be properly referenced. References should include titles and follow a format approved by the committee.

Quick Reference

Cancer Biology

Telephone 336-716-9132

Fax 336-716-0255

E-mail
bbottoms@wakehealth.edu
Graduate Program E-mail
skridel@wakehealth.edu

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