​Division Guide to Student Policies

The sections below describe the policies and procedures that apply to the graduate education of all Division students, regardless of their program affiliation. 


The Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences is a degree program of Washington University’s Graduate School. The Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS) is responsible for graduate education in the biomedical and biological sciences at Washington University. DBBS is organized into 13 academic programs, each representing a different scientific area. Students receive current guidelines for these programs upon matriculation, and periodic updates as changes occur. Those guidelines provide students with policies, procedures, and requirements specific to the academic program in which they are enrolled. This document consists of the policies and procedures that apply to the graduate education of all Division students, regardless of their program affiliation. The hallmark of the Division is flexibility, and students should always feel free to explore the possibility of individualizing their programs where appropriate.

The Division presently includes over 500 faculty; ~475 students working toward the Ph.D. degree; and ~190 students working toward the combined M.D./Ph.D. degree in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). Member departments of the Division include the Department of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the seven preclinical departments of the School of Medicine, namely: Neuroscience, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, Cell Biology & Physiology, Molecular Genetics, Developmental Biology, Molecular Microbiology, and Pathology & Immunology. In addition, there are members of the Division faculty located in the Departments of Chemistry, Psychology and Brain Sciences, Physics, Earth and Planetary Sciences, and the School of Engineering on the Danforth Campus and in the clinical departments of the School of Medicine

  • The chief administrative body of the Division is the Executive Council, composed of the Heads of the eight member departments, the Departments of Chemistry and of Biomedical Engineering, two members of clinical departments, the Associate Dean for Graduate Education, the Director of the MSTP, and the Director of Ph.D. Admissions and Recruiting. The Chair of the Council is the executive officer of the Division.
  • The Associate Dean oversees day to day operations of the Division and chairs the Program and Student Affairs Committee, which consists of the directors of the thirteen academic programs.
  • Each of the academic programs is managed by a Steering Committee. A committee of faculty oversees the recruitment and admission activities of DBBS.

When Graduate School policy is referred to in this guide please consult the Graduate School Bulletin.  M.D./Ph.D. students should refer to the School of Medicine Bulletin​ for policies governing the medical phase of their graduate education.


 Degree Requirements



DBBS students must complete a minimum of 36 units of course credit for the Doctor of Philosophy degree, and must maintain a “B” average. Each of the Division’s programs has different course requirements; individual program guidelines provide specific details. However, each student must register continuously every semester from matriculation through thesis completion. Since the required courses do not total 36 units, DBBS students also register for a research course (BIO 590). Grades for research courses are recorded as “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” rather than as letter grades. “Incomplete” grades are not acceptable, and students are required to complete their assignments on a timely basis. Grades in core courses must be a B- or above and students must maintain a B (3.0) overall average. Normally, students will complete 36 credit hours by the end of the first semester of their second year.

All Division students are required to complete a one-semester course in teaching practice and a one-semester course in the ethical aspects of conducting biological research.

English Requirement for International Students. Any graduate student beginning studies in the Division who did not earn an undergraduate degree from a university in a country in which English is the primary native language, must demonstrate a satisfactory knowledge of, and facility with, spoken and written English. This involves examinations administered by Washington University’s English Language Programs. In order to remain in good standing, any courses recommended by the ELP Program must be taken during the first calendar year the student is in the Division. After successful completion of these courses, the steering committee of the student's academic program is responsible for monitoring their English language proficiency. The committee’s evaluation is based on the student’s ability to successfully complete graduate course work and to communicate effectively in the laboratory, in journal clubs, and on the qualifying examination. The steering committee may, at any time, require the student to complete additional course work recommended by the ELP.

Mentored Teaching Experience (MTE)

Role of Teaching in the Discipline of Biology and Biomedical Sciences

Effective communication of information and concepts is a critical skill for biomedical research scientists. While much of the teaching that scientists engage in is through one-on-one interactions with individuals in the laboratory, all scientists must be able to deliver lectures to a wide audience (from peers in the field to neophytes with a limited understanding of the nuances of the topic), and scientists in faculty positions will often teach courses to undergraduate and graduate students. Therefore, DBBS students must demonstrate the ability to effectively communicate complex ideas and concepts to groups of individuals at various levels of understanding.

Pedagogical Preparation

Prior to beginning their Mentored Teaching Experience, DBBS students will be required to complete the Graduate Student Teaching Orientation and a minimum of three 90-minute teaching workshops, each covering a different topic, offered by the Teaching Center. Individualized instruction and mentoring will be provided by the course master of the class they have been assigned to. The course master will provide feedback throughout the semester, and will complete an evaluation upon the completion of the Mentored Teaching Experience. If the course master determines that the student’s facility with essential teaching skills is unsatisfactory, the student will be counseled by the course master and the Associate Dean of Graduate Education, and will complete another Mentored Teaching Experience to attain mastery of these skills.

Sequence of Teaching Opportunities for PhD Students
Teaching experience will consist of two components: basic and advanced. In the basic component, the DBBS student will serve as a mentored Assistant in Instruction (AI) in a course designated by the Associate Dean. The mentored teaching training must incorporate at least one of the following activities: delivering lectures, leading lab demonstrations, or conducting review sessions for groups of students. (Grading exams or papers, holding office hours, one-on-one tutoring, etc., may also be components of the teaching experience, but they are not sufficient to meet the DBBS teaching training requirement.) Mentored teaching opportunities will be reviewed annually to ensure that the experience meets the requirements established in this policy. 

To complete the basic MTE, students are required to:

  • Register for LGS 600 Mentored Teaching Experience in WebSTAC.
  • Attend the University’s Orientation for the Mentored Teaching Experience.
  • Read the Graduate School's Mentored Teaching Experience Handbook (received at orientation).
  • Complete three 90-minute workshops on different topics, offered by the WUSTL Teaching Center -- The Teaching Center's Foundations in Teac​hing Workshops​​ have been designed with the MTE training requirement in mind.  
  • Meet the expectations of the course director for the MTE.
  • Complete a written self-evaluation of the MTE. 

Students who receive an unsatisfactory grade for any reason will be required to repeat MTE teaching.

One semester of basic MTE is required, but students may participate in up to a maximum of three semesters if they request additional learning experiences as an AI in an effort to enhance their professional portfolio and teaching skills. Students can earn a Teaching Citation for completing three semesters of teaching. Students should enroll in LGS 600 each semester when they are fulfilling the basic MTE requirement (amended, September 2020).

The advanced component consists of presenting ideas and concepts to groups of individuals who are not necessarily expert in the student’s particular research niche. DBBS students will satisfy this component by presenting papers at journal clubs and delivering talks at scientific meetings, conferences and retreats. The trainee’s thesis mentor will provide guidance and feedback to trainees engaged in the advanced component. (This requirement will not be satisfied by presenting one’s work at lab meetings, thesis update meetings, or at the thesis examination.)

Laboratory Rotations

Students usually participate in three laboratory rotations before selecting a thesis mentor. Rotations can range widely and may even cross programs. Research rotations are designed to expose the student to new research approaches and different laboratory environments. Significant research accomplishment is not required for a successful rotation. Typical rotations last two to four months. Students who have already conducted research in a laboratory at Washington University are normally prohibited from conducting rotation research in their former lab.

Assistance with identifying appropriate rotation laboratories is available from academic advisers and program steering committees. Students wishing to rotate with a faculty member who is not affiliated with DBBS must receive approval from their program director prior to starting the rotation. Students write a brief description of the rotation project and their objectives prior to beginning the rotation, using page one of the Rotation Report Form. After each rotation, students meet with their rotation adviser to discuss their performance during the rotation. The adviser writes an evaluation for the student’s record, and the student completes the second page of the rotation report form, which evaluates their experience in the laboratory.

Qualifying Examination

Students must pass their program's qualifying examination. The format of the examination varies from program to program but an element common to all is an oral examination. The student should check their program's guidelines to determine the specific format of their exam. The purpose of the exam is to determine that the student has acquired sufficient knowledge to pursue independent research.​ Students are not to bring food or drink for faculty during the qualifying exams.

Thesis Research

After rotations have been completed, students select a thesis mentor (Thesis Affiliation Form). Students are encouraged to gather information from several sources, including consultations with faculty and current students, before choosing a thesis lab. Ph.D. students must be in a thesis laboratory by September 1 of their second year, MSTP students by September 1 of the first year of Ph.D. training. If a student is interested in pursuing their graduate studies with a faculty member who is not affiliated with DBBS, the student must identify a co-mentor who is affiliated with DBBS. Please refer to your program coordinator for more information.

By the fifth semester of graduate study, students establish a thesis committee and present a thesis proposal. The purpose of the thesis committee is to advise the student in his or her thesis research and to provide the student with a readily accessible source of advice and constructive criticism during the dissertation research. ​Students are not to bring food or drink for faculty during thesis committee meetings and thesis defense. The composition of thesis advisory committee requires approval from the respective Program Director, and the "Thesis Advisory Committee Approval Form" should be filled out (Thesis Advisory Committee Approval Form).

Dissertation Defense Committee Policy
The committee before which the student is examined consists of at least five members, who normally meet two independent criteria:
  1. Four of the five must be tenured or tenure-track Washington University faculty; one of these four may be a member of the Emeritus faculty. The fifth member must have a doctoral degree and an active research program, whether at Washington University, at another university, in government, or in industry.
  2. A minimum of three of the five must come from the student's degree program; at least one of the five must have an appointment outside of the student’s degree programs.

All committees must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School or by their designee, regardless of whether they meet the normal criteria.


Attendance by a minimum of four members of the Dissertation Defense Committee, including the committee chair and a faculty member from outside the student’s degree program, is required for the defense to take place. This provision is designed to permit your defense to proceed in case of a situation that unexpectedly prevents one of the five members from attending. Student’s must not schedule a dissertation defense at a time when only four members will be in attendance; the provision for defending in front of a committee of four will only be permitted if a committee member unexpectedly is unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances.  Note that the absence of the outside members or of the committee chair will necessitate rescheduling the defense.

Members of the Dissertation Defense Committee normally attend in person, but one of the five (or, in case of an emergency, one of the four) members may attend virtually (e.g., teleconference) instead.

Read individual program guidelines for specific requirements and "Satisfactory Academic Progress" below for detailed information.

Thesis Completion/Publications

The culmination of the research training experience is the writing and defense of a thesis. This occurs when the student, mentor, and thesis committee are in agreement that the student has produced a significant contribution to their research field and has matured into an independent scientific investigator. The student should notify the graduate student coordinator when they are within 6 months of thesis completion and obtain information for the defense under “Getting Ready to Graduate” on the DBBS website. The student will find specific instructions for completion procedures. Successful completion of the thesis involves passing an oral examination administered by the thesis committee and electronic submission of an approved written thesis. Following the defense of the thesis, all students should meet with their student coordinator for an exit interview. MSTP students will resume studies toward the M.D. degree upon completion of Ph.D. work. Since the M.D./Ph.D. is a combined degree, the degrees will be awarded concurrently, at the end of clinical training. Health coverage will continue for MSTP students until they complete their M.D. years. After a Ph.D. student delivers the required forms to the Graduate School, s/he will have health care coverage through the end of that month. At that time, thirty days of emergency only health care coverage begins; arrangements for continuing medical coverage should be made prior to the thesis defense.


There is no specific requirement for publication to receive the Ph.D. However, high quality, peer-reviewed publications are an important determinant for a student’s career. Similarly, the process of writing and submitting a manuscript and responding to reviewer critiques is an essential part of a student’s training. Therefore, the publication record is one of several important and appropriate measures to be used by a thesis committee in evaluating a Ph.D. candidate. It is generally expected that students will have submitted and/or published one or more first author manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals at the time of the defense.

Conflict of Interest Policy for Research

Research funding from sources that have intellectual property interests in the research, or in which the PI has personal financial interest, may create a real or perceived conflict of interest, given the dual roles of the principal investigator in obtaining funding for the lab and as a mentor for graduate students. Issues of paramount importance are (i) the ability to publish results in a timely fashion; (ii) the ability to communicate research results openly, especially to members of the thesis committee; and (iii) academic rights to publish and speak freely, especially as related to a graduate student’s thesis and defense.

Statement of policy.

The following principles should apply to any situation involving a graduate student supported by funding that is associated with a confidentiality agreement:

    The limitations and nature of the confidentiality agreement must be fully disclosed to and approved by the student, the thesis committee, and the DBBS Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs;
    The confidentiality agreement must not place an unreasonable burden or delay in publication or reporting at scientific meetings;
    The confidentiality agreement must not delay the writing or defense of the thesis;
Examples of inappropriate projects:
1. Research involving chemical compounds whose structure or mechanism of action is proprietary and failure to disclose would preclude peer-reviewed publication.

2. Research involving genes or proteins whose original or modified sequences are proprietary and failure to disclose would preclude peer-reviewed publication.

3. Research involving organisms or cell lines that are proprietary and failure to disclose would preclude peer-reviewed publication.

4. Research in which the thesis advisor has a significant personal or corporate financial interest.

Process for handling potential conflicts of interest involving students
If a faculty member receives industry-sponsored research support that entails a confidentiality agreement or has a personal financial interest related to the thesis work, the following process must be followed in order for the graduate student to be supported by this source:

As soon as the proposed arrangement becomes a concrete plan, the faculty member and student involved discuss and sign an appropriately specific disclosure statement that is based on a standard template (see below).

The signed statement should be submitted to the DBBS Associate Dean for Graduate Education, who will review the material and forward a provisional recommendation to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

If approved by the Vice Chancellor for Research, the student may proceed with this research and receive industry-sponsored support pending final approval by the student’s thesis committee.

Once a thesis committee is established (or at the next scheduled thesis committee meeting if one already exists), copies of the disclosure statement are provided to the committee. The committee meets with the faculty advisor and student initially present and decides whether the constraints imposed by the confidentiality agreement are acceptable.

The thesis committee chair forwards its recommendation to the DBBS Associate Dean for Graduate Education by indicating on the disclosure statement whether or not the thesis committee approves the arrangement.

The DBBS Associate Dean for Graduate Education reviews the material and forwards a final recommendation to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, where a final decision is made.

Disclosure statement for graduate students
Approved by Executive Council, DBBS
March, 2009
(Template; to be customized by the P.I. before presenting to the student)


From: PI
To: Graduate Student

This memo is to inform you that I intend to support $X of your stipend with funds provided by company Y. In accepting this support, I am obliged to sign a confidentiality agreement that puts constraints on the release of proprietary information that may pertain to your research. Research findings generated in whole or in part by this support must be reviewed by company Y prior to public release by presentation at scientific meetings or submission for publication (abstracts or manuscripts). According to the terms of the grant, the maximum time the results may be held for review is Z days. It is my understanding that this delay will be the only restriction on publication of your research. [OR, if chemical structure or other information remains proprietary, spell out the specifics.] For your protection, this arrangement will be discussed with and must receive approval by your thesis committee, the DBBS Associate Dean for Graduate Education, and the Vice Chancellor for Research or his/her designee.

Signature of PI:__________________________________ Date:____________________

Signature of Trainee:_____________________________ Date:____________________

The thesis committee has reviewed the relevant material and [ ] approves [ ] disapproves of the proposed arrangement.

Signature of thesis committee chair:__________________________ Date:____________________

The Associate Dean for Graduate Education has reviewed the relevant material and [ ] approves [ ] disapproves of the proposed arrangement.

Signature of Associate Dean:________________________________ Date:____________________

The Vice Chancellor for Research has reviewed the relevant material and [ ] approves [ ] disapproves of the proposed arrangement.

Signature of Vice Chancellor of Research:_______________________ Date:____________________

(Signed copy should be returned to the Associate Dean for Graduate Education, DBBS, Campus Box 8226)

Ethics and Research Sciences, Responsible Conduct of Research and HIPAA

Entering students are informed of the Washington University Graduate School Academic Integrity Policy and the Research Integrity Policy for Washington University.

All entering students must complete three on-line compliancy requirements. Questions regarding these requirements may be directed to the Division Privacy Liaison (314-362-3362).

*HIPAA 101 (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)

HIPAA is a federally mandated act that gives healthcare providers guidelines for maintaining the confidentiality of protected health information (PHI). The training and privacy policies that Washington University developed, ensure that our organization complies with HIPAA. As a graduate student working in clinical departments at a medical school, students need to be aware of the HIPAA guidelines and implications to your research.

 *EH&S Initial Lab Safety Training Curriculum (Environmental Health & Safety)

 *PERCSS (Program for Ethical Conduct of Science & Scholarship)
Two part requirement (verbal overview session during orientation and on-line compliancy module)

Students entering 6th year in program will be required to repeat the on-line PERCSS module 

All second-year Division students are required to complete the course, BIO 5011 Ethics and Research Science, which explores ethical issues which research scientists encounter in their professional activities. Case study, scenario presentations and small group discussions provide the focus of the course.

Academic Integrity

All students must read and understand the principles of academic conduct described in the Academic Integrity Policy for Graduate Students which each student receives upon matriculation. Failure to abide by these principles can have serious consequences. The policy describes offenses that violate academic integrity and the procedure to be followed where there appears to be misconduct. University policy does not allow individual faculty members, departments, divisions, or students to adjudicate charges of integrity violations at the course or departmental level. Allegations of academic integrity infractions must be filed in writing with the Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Entering Division students also receive the Washington University Student Conduct Code​, describing the University’s judicial system and the procedures for filing complaints, and for adjudicating violations.


 Academic Progress



Formal advising and monitoring for students who have not yet proposed an acceptable thesis project is provided by the Steering or Advisory Committee of their academic program. This committee meets with students formally at least every semester to advise them on coursework, laboratory rotation experiences, and qualifying examination preparation. Scientific advising is provided by the advisers of rotation laboratories during rotations; thesis mentors after a thesis laboratory is selected, and thesis committees following acceptance of the thesis proposal. Some programs advise in years GR5 and beyond to oversee and assist in scientific development and growth.

Resources for informal advising are the Program Directors, members of the program steering committees, and the Graduate Student Coordinators. Students may also receive information from other students, student organizations such as the Student Advisory Committee (SAC), the Career Resource Program (CRP), and publications such as the SACademic Guide.

Individual Development Plans (IDPs)

Students should take ownership of their training, as developing independence of thought and action are essential to their future careers.  Students should create and keep up-to-date an individual development plan (IDP) during their time as a student.

DBBS recommends the tool myIDP http://myidp.sciencecareers.org, presented by AAAS and hosted on the Science Careers website. This tool will help students explore a range of career possibilities as well as to set realistic goals to assist them on their career path.

  1. The Associate Dean will introduce the myIDP tool to students during orientation. More advanced students will have the opportunity to attend a more comprehensive workshop on creating their IDP. 
  2. Steering Committees will reinforce the importance during each advising session over years 1 and 2.
  3. Short- and long-term goals set during the thesis proposal will form the basis of academic research goals of the IDP. 
  4. The DBBS Education Coordinator and the Career Center provides a variety of career and professional development workshops to assist students with the professional goals of the IDP.
  5. At subsequent thesis update meetings, the student and PI will confirm that the IDP and career exploration was reviewed.  Committee chairs will verify on the DBBS Thesis Committee Report progress report forms that the IDP has been completed and discussed with the PI or another DBBS faculty mentor.  
  6. If students have issues related to the IDP that they would prefer to discuss with others besides their PI, they are encouraged to discuss these with their thesis committee chair, Program Director or Student Coordinator for further guidance.

This policy fulfills the NIH requirement for PIs to report on the use of IDPs on some grants.  See Notice http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-14-113.html 


Steering Committees monitor the academic progress of all students throughout their graduate education. Course grades, qualifying examination results, faculty evaluations, and thesis committee reports are among the criteria considered in reviewing student performance.

The Medical Scientist Training Program Committee monitors M.D./Ph.D. students throughout their training program. In the medical phase, student performance is subject to the policies of the School of Medicine’s Committees on Academic Review and Promotion (see School of Medicine Bulletin). In the Ph.D. portion, student progress is monitored jointly by the MST Program and the Steering Committee of the Division graduate program with which the student is affiliated.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

All students in the Ph.D. program are expected to satisfy the academic performance requirements of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which can be found in The Graduate School Bulletin’s General Requirements section. In addition, there are specific DBBS satisfactory academic performance requirements before and after passing the qualifying examination.

Before the Qualifying Exam

Before passing the qualifying examination, satisfactory academic progress is achieved by timely completion of required course work with satisfactory grades (overall B average), successful laboratory rotations (based on mentor evaluation at the end of the rotation) and join a thesis laboratory in a timely manner.

Except in cases of extreme underperformance warranting immediate dismissal, students failing to make satisfactory academic progress will be placed on academic probation as outlined in the Academic Probation and Dismissal section (below). In the case of failure of the qualifying examination, the student will be placed on academic probation for a period of up to three months.  The program committee will provide the student with feedback on the deficiencies in their performance, and a timeline for the administration of the second examination.  Failure of the examination a second time could result in immediate dismissal by the steering committee.  In certain cases, a student who fails the qualifying exam may petition the committee for the awarding of a masters degree.

After the Qualifying Exam

After passing the qualifying examination, satisfactory progress is maintained by completing the following steps in a timely manner.

  • Establish a thesis committee and successfully present a thesis proposal.
    In some programs, a successful thesis proposal is a part of the qualifying examination. In cases where it is not, satisfactory academic progress requires that the student assemble a thesis committee and present a thesis proposal by the deadline specified in the program guidelines. A student not completing a thesis proposal by the date specified by the relevant program guidelines or by no later than the fifth semester of graduate study will be given notice that they are on academic probation and could be dismissed if the proposal is not completed within three months.
  • Maintain a thesis committee that meets the requirements of the program guidelines.
    The thesis advisory committee composition must be in accordance with the requirements of the specific PhD program.  At a bare minimum, the advisory committee must consist of four eligible Washington University faculty(s). At least four committee members must be present at the thesis proposal and update meetings.  If a member of the thesis committee resigns, the student must identify a new member within three months of face academic probation.  The thesis examination committee consists of a minimum of five faculty(s), in accordance with the requirements of the PhD program.
  • Review research progress with the thesis committee regularly.
    Students are required to meet and provide progress reports to their thesis committee at least once per year or more frequently if the program or the committee so recommends. The chairman of the committee will document the student's progress to the program coordinator, using the thesis committee report form (http://www.dbbs.wustl.edu/curstudents/StudentForms/Pages/StudentForms.aspx). Failure to meet as directed by the program or thesis committee will result in academic probation. 
  • Make acceptable progress toward completion of the thesis.
    Both the thesis committee and the thesis mentor must be satisfied that the student is progressing toward the completion of an acceptable thesis. If the thesis committee and mentor agree that a student is not meeting the expectations for progress for degree completion, the student will be placed on academic probation. Any disagreements between the thesis committee and the mentor should be resolved by the program steering committee. If the steering committee is unable to resolve the differences, the Program and Student Affairs Committee shall have final jurisdiction.
  • Complete the requirements for the Ph.D. degree by the end of the seventh year of graduate study.
    Students will be notified in writing at the beginning of the seventh year of graduate study that they must complete and defend an acceptable thesis by the end of the seventh year. The student and the mentor may petition for extension of this time limit. The petition must be approved by the steering committee and the Associate Dean for Graduate Education before being forwarded to the Dean of the Graduate School for consideration.  If the petition is denied or the student is unable is otherwise unable to complete the PhD requirements, the student will be dismissed from the program at the end of the seventh year.

Academic Probation and Dismissal.  Review the Graduate School Policy on Probat​ion and Dismissal for Academic Reasons​.

Students who do not meet performance expectations in coursework, qualifying examination, teaching1, research, thesis committee meetings or other scholarly activities will be subject to academic probation and possible dismissal from the program.  Students may be dismissed immediately for extreme academic underperformance, but in most cases, they will be placed on academic probation and given the opportunity to remediate the deficiencies.  The period of an academic probation will normally be 3 months, though in some instances (such as poor performance in courses or an exceptionally poor qualifying examination) the academic probationary period may be of a shorter duration.  Individuals placed on academic probation will receive a letter from the program committee informing them of the imposition of academic probation.  The letter will establish the criteria necessary to return to good academic standing. At the end of the three-month probationary period, the program will inform the student in writing that have either been (1) returned to good standing, or (2) placed on a second consecutive academic probation, or (3) dismissed from the program. A second consecutive academic probation must be accompanied by a new letter identifying the steps required to return to good standing. While the purpose of the academic probationary period is to provide the student with time to improve, the decision of the program at the end of an academic probationary period could involve immediate notification of dismissal. At the end of a second continuous academic probation, the student will be either returned to good standing or dismissed. A third academic probation will be allowed only if it is does not immediately follow a second probation. A fourth academic probation will not be allowed. A student whose performance would result in a fourth academic probation will be dismissed immediately. A leave of absence cannot be used by a student to delay or nullify the consequences of a third consecutive or fourth academic probation.

Individuals on academic probation will continue to receive a stipend unless the student is failing to meet the basic expectations of their position, (including failure to carry our lab duties, MTE duties, compliance requirements or thesis committee meetings); in those cases, the individual will be given a two week notice prior to the suspension of the stipend.  All other benefits (access to Student Health, library and research facilities, etc.) will continue for the duration of the probationary period.

The Associate Dean for Graduate Education reviews all recommendations for dismissal before they are forwarded to the Dean of the Graduate School.  If the student disagrees with the steering committee's recommendation, a written petition may be submitted to the Associate Dean for Graduate Education. 

1Complete a one-semester Mentored Teaching Experience (MTE) and a minimum of three qualifying workshops.  students lead discussions and/or problem-solving sessions, prepare and deliver one or more lectures as part of the regular lecture schedule, and/or provide regular instruction in a laboratory environment. MTE will invlove student lead discussions and/or problem-solving sessions, preparation and delivery of one or more lectures as part of the regular lecture schedule, and/or regular instruction in a laboratory environment.

Resources for Student Concerns

  • Academic:  Student performance is evaluated by multiple mechanisms: faculty evaluate student performance in their courses;  research rotation mentors complete evaluations at the end of lab rotation; thesis mentors complete evaluations at the end of each semester; dissertation advisory committees complete evaluations after each thesis meeting (which take place every 12 months, or more frequently if required by the program); MTE supervisors complete evaluations at the end of the MTE experience; and program advising committees provide evaluations to pre-thesis proposal students at the end of each semester.  In addition, programs may require periodic evaluation for senior students or those who are otherwise achieving borderline academic progress.  Academic progress concerns are first reviewed by the Program Director and, if necessary, the Program Steering Committee.  If the Program Director and Steering Committee cannot resolve the concern and it involves DBBS policy, it can be taken to the Programs and Student Affairs Committee of DBBS, chaired by the Associate Dean for Graduate Education (currently Steven Mennerick).  Other academic concerns can be taken to Laurie Maffly-Kipp, Interim Dean, or Angela Wilson, Associate Dean of the Graduate School.
  • Research Integrity: Concerns regarding research integrity that cannot be clarified in the laboratory should be taken to the Vice Chancellor for Research (Jennifer Lodge). http://www.wustl.edu/policies/research.html
  • Academic Integrity: Issues of academic integrity that cannot be satisfactorily resolved should be brought to the attention of the Associate Dean of the Graduate School (Angela Wilson). 
  • Other: For all other concerns, University policies can be found on the University web site.  https://graduateschool.wustl.edu/graduate-school-policies-and-procedures​

Program Transfers

The Division programs provide a broad, interdisciplinary approach to graduate education. Unique features of the Division structure include the ease with which departmental and program lines can be crossed and the freedom students have to choose among Division faculty and programs. If students find their research interests have changed since their matriculation into one program, they are able to transfer into another, following the procedures below.

  • Students who are in good academic standing. Prior to the completion of one semester, requests for transfers must be approved by the Directors of both programs involved and the Admissions Committees of those programs.
  • Following the completion of at least one semester, students are free to transfer from one Division program to another following a discussion with both Program Directors.
  • Students who are not in good academic standing. Students may transfer only after obtaining approval from both the Program Directors, in consultation with their steering committees.

Occasionally there may be extenuating circumstances for which the above procedures will need to be modified. The Associate Dean for Graduate Education is available for advice when there are extenuating circumstances.

Leaves of Absence

Students making satisfactory academic progress may request permission from the Director of their academic program for a leave of absence from graduate school of up to one year. The Director, in consultation with the program’s steering committee, will decide whether a leave will be granted. Leave will not normally be approved for a student who is not making satisfactory academic progress, or who wishes to take more than one year off. Students do not receive stipend support while on leave; however, Division payment for health insurance may be negotiated when the leave is taken for medical reasons. Students contemplating leaves should see their student coordinators to discuss health benefits and other details.

Students who take a leave without prior approval or who do not resume study at the end of the time granted must reapply for admission in order to return to the Division.

Sick Leave and Other Leave . Students may continue to receive stipends for up to 12 calendar days of sick leave per year. Sick leave may be used for the medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. 

New Child Leave. Students also may receive stipends for up to 8 weeks of New Child leave per year for the adoption or the birth of a child. Either parent is eligible for New Child leave.

Master of Arts Degree

The Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences does not offer a Master of Arts degree program. The Division only awards the M.A. as a terminal degree.

To qualify for a Masters degree without thesis, students must:

1) have been a full time DBBS student for one calendar year,
2) have satisfactorily completed 36 semester units of graduate studies, and
3) passed a general knowledge exam for their program.

To qualify for a Masters degree with thesis, students must:

1) have been a full time DBBS student for one calendar year,
2) satisfactorily completed 36 semester units of graduate studies, and
3) have written and defended a masters thesis based on exceptional research work completed prior to the decision to terminate graduate studies.

No more than four months may be allowed to complete the thesis, and the steering committee may decide that less time is appropriate. The thesis must be successfully defended before a committee of no fewer than three full-time Division faculty members other than the laboratory mentor (the laboratory mentor may serve in addition to the three other faculty), and the composition of the committee must be approved by the student's Program Director. The examining committee must find that the student demonstrates a mastery of the subject in order to recommend that the degree be awarded.

Completion of the Ph.D. at Another Site

Permission to accompany a thesis advisor who leaves Washington University must be obtained in advance from the appropriate Program Director and the Associate Dean for Graduate Education. Permission will be granted if the student has:

1) Satisfied the qualifying examination requirement;
2) Received approval of the Thesis Proposal and discussed expected progress with the Thesis Committee. The chair of the thesis committee will assume the role of co-mentor, and will be listed as such on the dissertation.
3) Received approval of the educational program and environment at the host institution;
4) Agree to hold thesis update meetings annually or as recommended by the thesis committee for progress reports. Student and thesis mentor have two options for these meetings; a) return to Washington University; or b) video conference.
Expenses for travel to and from St. Louis or video conferencing is the dissertation mentor's responsibility.
5) For the thesis examination, the thesis mentor must attend the thesis examination. Expenses for travel to and from St. Louis are the dissertation mentor's responsibility.

1.Oversight. If, after consultation with thesis committee, the program steering committee determines that either the thesis project is no longer viable or the training environment is no longer acceptable, it may require the student to return to Washington Univresityand affiliate with a new thesis lab.

2. Registration. Tuition for any courses that must be taken at another institution will be the responsibility of the thesis mentor or the host institution.

A student with 36 units of credit will register for LGD 9001, Full-time Graduate Status in Absentia. Students will receive full funding, tuition remission and student health coverage. Student Health Fee (see note below). 

3.Student Health Coverage. Students are required to have health care coverage. A student leaving in the middle of a semester to accompany their thesis mentor to another University continues to have emergency room and in-hospital coverage for that semester, but is not eligible for out-patient benefits.

A student who plans to move should discuss health insurance with the thesis mentor and with Student Health and make arrangements with the mentor and the new institution to provide coverage​.


Students may accept an internship to train at an organization for a limited amount of time.  When a student desires to train at another location, they must obtain the approval of their thesis mentor, the thesis committee chair, the Program Director, and the Associate Dean.  All requests for internships will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

The student should submit a letter to provide the name and location of company/organization where internship will be preformed, duration of the internship, and a brief summary to explain how the internship will benefit their professional growth.  The letter must be signed by the thesis mentor, thesis committee chair, and program director and submitted to the Coordinator.  The Coordinator will send the letter to the Associate Dean for review.   If approved, the student and company must also complete the “Student Internship Acknowledgement” form, which can be obtained from the Coordinator.


 Administrative Support


Financial Support & Benefits

All Division students are guaranteed a stipend, full tuition and related fees, including health care, disability and life insurance, as long as satisfactory progress toward the degree is maintained. Students who are not United States citizens receive the same support (further details appear in the section for International Students below). 

All Division students receive a stipend throughout their tenure as students. This support is provided through a variety of sources, including University funds, training grants from the National Institutes of Health and other agencies, foundation funds, individual predoctoral fellowships, thesis mentor's research grants, and/or department funds. If support is restricted by a confidentiality agreement the student must submit a “Conflict of Interest Disclosure Statement”. Graduate education is a full-time commitment. Division students may not hold any employment inside or outside the University. They may, with mentor approval, serve as tutors or participate in research studies for payment to the extent that it does not interfere with their academic progress. Activities which interfere with a student’s progress are specifically prohibited.

Because of the guaranteed financial support, a single international student is not required to provide proof of financial support. International students in the Division are subject to all regulations of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service as administered through the University’s International Office. International students who have attended another academic institution in the United States must have their visa documents transferred to Washington University. It is illegal for an international student to work in a laboratory or receive stipend payment until the transfer is complete. All matters related to visa status and international student eligibility are referred to the University International Office. The booklet, International Perspectives, which is distributed by the International Office to all international students entering the University, provides important information about international student life in St. Louis. The Director and staff of the International Office are available to assist international students as they prepare to enter the United States and during their student tenure. The telephone number of the Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) is 314-935-5910.

Any PhD or MSTP student who obtains competitive external funding awarding at least $24,816 in stipend annually will receive the base DBBS stipend plus a $5,000 merit award per year for the duration of the fellowship as long as they remain in good academic standing. If the agency award is more than the $5,000 above the DBBS base stipend, the student will receive the agency award only, no merit award will be offered. At the end of the fellowship the student will then return to the current DBBS stipend level at that time.

Throughout a student's tenure in the Division all tuition and fees are paid directly to the University from a variety of sources, including the Division, training grants, fellowships, scholarships, thesis mentors and/or their departments, etc. Currently the fees include a health fee and the network access fee.

Health Coverage
Entering students receive detailed information about their coverage and about procedures for obtaining dental, medical care and/or counseling services. When recommended by Student Health Service, counseling is provided. Student Health Service provides assistance in dealing with a wide variety of concerns and can be reached at 314-362-3523. After a student has turned in the completed thesis and forms to the Graduate School, s/he begins thirty days of emergency only health care; arrangements for continuing medical coverage should be made prior to the thesis defense.

Information regarding spouse and dependent health care coverage is available from Student Health Services staff.

Disability and Life Insurance
Disability and life insurance are provided by the University. These coverages continue for the student's tenure, and details about them are available at the Student Health Service.

Other Support

Time Off Policy
Student appointments to the Division are considered to be 52-week appointments and do not follow academic vacation schedules. Planned absences should be approved by the advisor and unplanned absences reported to them. “Advisors” in the graduate years are program directors, rotation mentors, MTE course master and/or thesis mentors, as is appropriate. For MSTP students during their medical training, the Director of the MSTP program will serve as the supervisor. The total amount of excused absence should not exceed 8 weeks. This would include: University approved holidays; 22 days of vacation; and 12 days of sick time off annually. Sick time off and vacation are not carried over from year to year, are not accrued (available from time of appointment) and are not subject to payout at the termination of the graduate student appointment. Therefore, informal monitoring of this time off by advisors and students will normally be sufficient. For students in Ph.D. training, disputes between advisors and students should first be addressed by the Program Director. For MSTP students in medical training, disputes will be resolved by consensus between the MSTP Director and the clinical advisor. 

If you decide to travel and be away from the lab for any reason other than to perform research or attend a scientific meeting, your time away from work will be considered a vacation. Should you exceed the allotted 22 days of vacation per fiscal year, you may be required to take an unpaid leave of absence. Students who travel outside of the US are not covered by student health; however, travel insurance can be purchased and information is available at Student Health Services.

Special note for International Students: Due to increased security measures, the process of renewing student visas has been prolonged in several countries. In most instances, it is not necessary to travel home to renew a visa. If you decide to travel to home, please contact the International Office to obtain the required signature of an official representative on your I-20 form prior to traveling out of the country.

New Child Leave
Students may also receive stipends for up to 8 weeks of New Child leave per year for the adoption or birth of a child. Either parent is eligible for New Child leave.

EMail & Internet Access
All students are provided with email accounts and access to the Internet free of charge.  Most of the Division's communications about events, changes in policy, courses, etc. are sent by Wustl email.  Please see 
https://sts.wustl.edu/​​ for more information.

Verifications for Federal Student Lenders

It is not necessary for students to request enrollment or degree verification from the Office of the University Registrar or the School of Medicine Registrar for federal student loan deferments. The lenders and servicing agencies for federal student loans download this information directly from the NSC on a regular basis.

Note that the anticipated degree date reported by the Clearinghouse to your loan lenders prior to your actual graduation is a calculated value based upon your year in school and enrollment status. They use it to project when you may no longer be in school and entering repayment on your loans.

Please contact The Registrar’s office for further questions:  http://registrar.wustl.edu/student-records/verification/​

Discrimination and Sexual Harassment

1. Non-Discrimination. Washington University does not discriminate in access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, veteran status, or disability (https://hr.wustl.edu/items/discrimination-harassment-policy). A complaint on the grounds of alleged sexual discrimination may subsequently be appealed to the Title IX Coordinator, Campus Box 1167, Washington University. If further satisfaction is desired, appeal may be made to the Title IX Grievance Committee.

2. Sexual Harassment. Washington University policy states that members of the University community can expect to be free from all forms of sexual harassment. Students, faculty, staff or outside organizations working on campus are urged to actively support this policy. For more information contact the Title IX Coordinator​ at 935-3118.  Please visit http://www.wustl.edu/policies/sexharas.html for the complete policy on sexual harrassment. Graduate student complaints regarding sexual harassment issues may also be addressed to the Associate Dean of the Graduate School.​ 

Disability Resources

The University makes every effort to ensure that all students can take full advantage of the courses, programs, activities, and opportunities that our University offers. If you are a student with a disability and would like to learn more about the accommodations and services provided at Washington University, please contact the Disability Resources (DR) in Cornerstone: Center for Advanced Learning at 935-5970, located in Gregg Residence Hall. For more information, visit http://disability.wustl.edu/disabilityResources/index.htm.

Campus Safety and Security

Information on Campus Safety and Security in Compliance with Title II of the Federal Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990
Each year, the University publishes a brochure, Safety and Security, which details what to do and whom to contact in an emergency and includes the federally required annual security report.  For a copy, contact the Washington University Policy Department, Campus Box 1038, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO  63130-4899, (314) 935-9011, email: pam_green@aismail.wustl.edu, or visit http://police.wustl.edu
For the Medical School Campus Security statement, go to the Protective Services Report at the following website:  http://medicine.wustl.edu/students/infosvc.html

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