Fifth Year and Above


Teaching assistantships in Biophysics for students beyond the second year will be assigned by Dr. Karen Fleming (  Evaluations will be made by individual course instructors.  Additional teaching opportunities are available for students beyond their 2nd year.
These teaching assistantships for Biology courses are assigned by Cindy Holstein.


In the second year of study and beyond, all students in the CMDB program are required to have an annual Thesis Committee meeting. A student’s review for a particular academic year must be completed by August 31st. No exceptions to this requirement will be made unless the student has a SCHEDULED thesis defense date. Students are responsible for setting up the meetings of the committees, which should be held on the Homewood Campus. If a student fails to meet this requirement, stipend and tuition support will not be provided for the upcoming semester and a student may be terminated from the program.  Before having the annual review, please obtain the appropriate form from the Academic Program Coordinator (see the Appendix for sample forms). 
Beginning of 5th Year: Thesis Plan Meeting
In keeping with a general goal of graduation in 5-5.5 years, a special ‘Thesis Plan Meeting’ will be held after 4-4.5 years of study (by December 31st of the 5th year). In collaboration with the thesis mentor, the student should prepare a detailed thesis outline and a plan for graduation in 12-18 months. The outline should include a clear description of the chapters to be included in the final Thesis, an indication of which experiments have been completed and which are still in progress. The student should also be prepared to discuss plans following graduation to receive advice and input from the committee for how to prepare for and obtain a desired position. The plan should be distributed to the committee members one week before the meeting. Students should also complete a Student Self-Assessment as they would do for any Thesis Committee meeting.

Thesis Defense Approval Meeting (“4-6 month meeting”)

This meeting is intended for students who are ready to finish up last experiments and write their thesis.

The final thesis review committee meeting should be 4-6 months prior to the anticipated thesis defense date, and the committee must officially approve the thesis content and outline at this time in order for the student to schedule their thesis defense (see below). It should be the goal of every student and advisor to hold the Thesis Defense Approval meeting and the Thesis Defense by the end of the students’ 6th year in the program. Results of the meeting must be reported to the Academic Program Coordinator so that the student will have approval to schedule their Thesis Defense. A student is expected to conduct their Thesis Defense within 6 months of the successful completion of this meeting. Committee members should not give their approval at this meeting unless a successful Defense is possible within this time.

This committee can be the standard thesis commitee (PI plus 2 faculty), but it is recommended that this be the full Thesis Defense Committee (PI plus 3 faculty).

If a student has completed their Thesis Defense Approval Meeting but not yet scheduled their Thesis Defense, they are still required to present their Progress Report as scheduled.

If a student does not hold their thesis defense within 6 months of their thesis approval meeting, he/she must provide a written explanation to their Thesis Committeee and to the CMDB program director(s) and request a new deadline to be set. Both the Thesis Committee and the CMDB program director(s) must agree to this new deadline.

If a student does not conduct their Thesis Defense Approval meeting during their 6th academic year, then they are still required to conduct a Thesis Committee Meeting by August 31st of that year.

What do you have to do for this meeting?

Detailed thesis outline
At least one week prior to the meeting, the student should send the committee a detailed outline of their proposed these, including all chapters (even intro and conclusions). Any completed chapters can also be sent.
The outline should include:
-An abstract describing each chapter.
-A bullet-point outline of what will be included in each chapter
-A DETAILED list of any remaining experiments, along with an explanation of how the findings in the thesis depend on these experiments.
The committee must be able to judge whether the thesis will be of sufficient quality and can be completed in a 4-6 month timeframe.


To gain feedback regarding scientific and career development, students will complete a self-assessment form prior to each committee meeting. Copies of the completed form should be distributed to committee members prior to the meeting. This self-assessment will be discussed at the committee meeting. Faculty will not sign off on a sucessfully completed meeting unless the self-assessment form has been completed and discussed.


Every graduate student in their third year of study and beyond must present a progress report of their research during the academic year. No exceptions to this requirement will be made unless the student has a SCHEDULED thesis defense date. This series was organized to provide students and post-docs with an opportunity to present their results and to promote interaction between laboratories.  Graduate students (beyond the second year) and postdoctoral fellows from all labs will give talks (25 minute talk and 5 minute question period) based on their work.  Graduate students are encouraged to utilize this talk as a preliminary presentation for their Annual Thesis Review.  The progress reports are held on Tuesdays at 12:00 PM in Mudd 100.  Each summer, the Progress Report Coordinator will schedule the talks for the next academic year in conjunction with the research advisors. As with the annual thesis review, failure to participate in the progress reports by August 31 of each year will result in a termination of stipend and tuition support. 

A number of academic activities occur on a regular basis that constitute a large portion of the training experience in the CMDB Graduate Program.  Progress Reports, departmental seminars and Colloquia present opportunities for one’s horizons to be broadened and to be exposed to a wide array of subjects and experimental approaches.  As a significant adjunct to individual thesis training, student attendance at these activities is mandatory. In addition, individual
labs or groups of investigators with shared interests also have group meetings, journal clubs and other intellectual activities in which a student is expected to participate.
Progress Reports are held in Mudd 100 each Tuesday at noon and involve research talks from students in the CMDB program and postdoctoral fellows in the Biology Department. All CMDB students are required to present a Progress Report each year after their second year (see below).  Students are expected to regularly attend the Progress Report talks. 
Seminars. The Biology Department (Thursdays at 4PM), Biophysics Department (Mondays at 12PM), Chemistry Department (Wednesdays at 4PM) and Carnegie Institution (Mondays at 12:15PM) each sponsor seminar series which include talks by visitors from other universities.
Attendance at seminars is strongly encouraged, and attending at least one seminar per week is required. Notices concerning seminars in other departments are located on the bulletin board across from Mudd 100 and on each department’s web pages.  The schedule can be found on the Biology Department website at or a Hopkins-wide seminar listing can be found at
Biology Colloquia are held once a month during the academic year. This series involves members of the CMDB Training Faculty. These talks commence at 4:30PM on the first Wednesday of each month (with a few exceptions) and attendance by CMDB students is required. 
CMDB Program Retreat. During the Fall semester, there is a retreat for all CMDB students along with faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and research associates from the Biology Department, and training faculty from Carnegie, Chemistry, and Biophysics. During the retreat, members of the Training Faculty will present short talks about the research that is currently being conducted in their laboratories.  Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows also present their work at a poster session. In addition to the stimulating science, the retreat offers a chance for CMDB students to become acquainted with training faculty and other members of our scientific community in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. CMDB students are expected to attend and participate in the retreat during each of their years in the program.


At the end of each academic year, the Program Director of the training program will convene the entire Training Faculty to discuss the progress of all graduate students. For first year students, performance in laboratory rotations and the students' coursework record will be evaluated after the first semester by the Program Director, and at the end of the first year by the Training Faculty. As discussed above, any student who receives two grades of C+ or worse during the first year, who has a combined GPA less than 3.0, or who fails to otherwise meet the conditions of a probation, may be subject to dismissal from the program. The performance of students in the second year and beyond will also be reviewed by the CMDB Program Director and the training faculty. Close attention will be paid to the outcome of the annual thesis reviews, as well as to the completion of other degree requirements (above).  Students failing to make adequate progress toward the Ph.D. degree will be placed on probation and may be subject to dismissal from the program.  Students entering the sixth year or greater of
graduate study must present a plan for completion of study, and obtain permission to continue in the program signed by the Program Director, in order to register.