Biological and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program



Cornell Combined DVM/PhD Degree Program

Dissertation Research

The three major Graduate School requirements for the PhD degree are registration units, examinations, and the thesis or dissertation.

Registration Units

One regitration unit (RU) corresponds to the satisfactory completion of one acadmic 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.

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.

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.