The Cornell system of graduate education is based on graduate fields and the special committee system. Graduate fields are defined as voluntary groupings of faculty around a research area. The special committee consists of a group of faculty members a student picks to work with during their coursework and research. The special committee chair will be a member of the graduate field the student was accepted into, other members of the special committee can be drawn from nearly 1,800 graduate faculty at Cornell.
The BBS Graduate Program offers PhD. degrees in the following 5 graduate fields:
Incoming first year students conduct three laboratory rotations. These rotations are designed to:
The three major Graduate School requirements for the PhD degree are registration units, examinations, and the thesis or dissertation.
One registration unit (RU) corresponds to the satisfactory completion of one academic semester of full-time study and research. Six registration units are the minimum requirement for the PhD degree; two of these must be earned after the A-exam.
Examination for Admission to PhD Candidacy ("A-Exam")
A student is admitted to doctoral candidacy after passing a comprehensive examination administered by his or her special committee. This examination is either oral or written and oral, as determined by the special committee. The passing of this examination certifies that the student is eligible to present a dissertation to the graduate faculty. The A-Exam may be taken after two registration units have been accumulated in a PhD degree program. Complete the Schedule for Admission to Candidacy (A-Exam) form and submit to the Office of Graduate Education two weeks prior to your exam. You will need to bring the A-Exam results form to your A exam, this form must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Education within three business days of your exam (we will then send your results from via PDF to the graduate school).
Final Examination for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree ("B-Exam")
A doctoral candidate takes the final examination upon completion of all requirements for the degree, but no earlier than one month before completion of the minimum registration unit requirement. A minimum of two registration units must be earned between passing the A-Exam and scheduling the B-Exam. This oral exam covers the general subject of the dissertation. Complete the Schedule the B Examination form and submit to the Office of Graduate Education two weeks prior to your exam. You will need to bring the B-Exam results form to your B-Exam, this form must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Education within three business days of your exam (we will then send your results from via PDF to the graduate school).
Thesis or Dissertation
Requirements for Thesis/Dissertation
PhD degree students must present a dissertation - including an abstract not to exceed 350 words, signed by the special committee chair - acceptable in scholarship and literary quality. Acceptance of the thesis or dissertation requires the approval of all the special committee members. Ordinarily, the thesis or dissertation is written in the student's major subject of study and under the direction of the chair of the special committee. With the approval of the committee, a student may elect to write the thesis or dissertation under the direction of the representative of a minor subject. Please utilize Graduation Manager to upload your dissertation