During the second full semester, the graduate student will make a formal presentation of plan of study, along with a review of the literature, to the department. The purpose of this is to encourage the student to work on his or her research proposal (see below), and to ensure that it is sound and meets the standards of the department.
The research proposal represents a contract between the student and his/her graduate committee. The student should work with his or her advisor to develop the research proposal and submit it to the graduate committee for approval before their third full semester of study. The title page must be signed by the student, all members of the committee, and the Department Head. One copy of the proposal with a signed title page must be submitted to the Department Head. Copies should also be given to members of the graduate committee. Research involving animal subjects requires additional approval forms. Students will not be eligible to receive funds managed through the department (e.g., assistantships or travel funds) beyond the start of their third long semester of study until their research proposal is approved and on file in the department.
The committee should approve the proposal before the student begins the research. In some cases the nature of the study may require that the research begin before the proposal is approved. In such cases it is very much in the interests of the student to understand the subtleties of the research objectives and methods so that misunderstandings between the student and his or her advisor are unlikely. The student should report regularly (i.e., at least once or twice a year) to the advisor and the advisory committee regarding research progress in order to avoid last minute surprises or misunderstandings, and to gain approval of any redirection.
Deadline dates for filing the thesis/dissertation are announced each semester by the Registrar. The research project should be designed to produce one or more publishable papers in a refereed journal. Students are encouraged to organize the document into chapters that represent stand-alone publications.
A polished draft of the thesis/dissertation in proper format should be delivered to the graduate committee for review only after the student and his advisor agree upon technical and editorial content. Committee members have the right to reject documents with grammatical errors or papers that fail to meet high standards of scientific style. Signatures can be obtained on the thesis/dissertation only when changes recommended by the committee have been incorporated.
All students will present a Final Thesis or Dissertation Research Seminar prior to the final examination. The final defense seminar must be approved by the department head at least 2 weeks prior to the scheduled date. The student should distribute copies of seminar announcement to the College of Agriculture and to all Veterinary Sciences faculty, staff, and graduate students at least one week in advance of the scheduled date. The graduate committee will administer the final oral examination after the seminar audience has been excused.
To meet deadlines for graduation, students need to begin the final defense process months in advance. Due to other commitments, particularly teaching, faculty members are often busy at the end of semesters. The student should allow adequate time to allow the graduate committee to review the thesis and sufficient time for corrections to be made.
Students should be in close contact with advisory committee members so that travel schedules can be accommodated and planning adjusted accordingly. It is the student's responsibility to initiate and to coordinate this process. Professional courtesy dictates that ample time be allowed for each step in the process if academic standards are to be maintained. It is inappropriate for students to pressure their committee members to short-circuit this process to meet graduation deadlines.