The Graduate College: MS and PhD Degrees

The Graduate College prepares students for the master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees. The Doctor of Philosophy is awarded in recognition of high achievement in a particular field of scientific research as evidenced by submission of a dissertation that demonstrates the power of independent investigation and contributes to the body of existing knowledge. An undergraduate record of scholastic excellence is an important background for The Graduate College experience. The Graduate College also provides excellent research and training opportunities for advanced students who want to enroll concurrently in The Graduate College and in Rush Medical College. The process of application review includes a search for evidence of creativity and scholarly potential in the applicant. Non-degree students are not admitted with advanced degree objectives and are ineligible to become candidates for advanced degrees. Upon approval by a course director, any individual may audit a course. In all cases, a student considering application for admission should first establish contact with the director of his/her choice of program to determine divisional/program requirements. The student must meet all of the requirements for progress and graduation in the graduate studies program. In this regard, individualized studies will be programmed to meet the student's need in achieving essential knowledge in preparation for these requirements.

Doctor of Philosophy

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the highest degree conferred by Rush University. The PhD is restricted to those scholars who have demonstrated superior ability in a recognized academic discipline. While each division has identified requirements, the PhD degree is not awarded following the completion of any specific number of formal courses nor on the basis of miscellaneous course studies and research. The entire PhD program must be integrated and highly research-oriented. It should culminate in a work of literary and scholarly merit, which is indicative of the candidate's ability to conduct original research in a recognized specialty (generally in the form of a first-author manuscript). PhD programs are directed by selected faculty who work closely with graduate students. In practice, each program is composed of formal courses, guided individual study in a chosen field or discipline, study in such cognate subjects as may be required by the candidate's advisory committee, and original research that serves as the basis of a required scholarly dissertation.

Admission to Candidacy
Admission to candidacy is evidence that the doctoral student has successfully completed all preliminary coursework and is prepared to move into his/her intensive research experience. Depending upon the divisional requirements, these exams will test accumulated knowledge, scientific reasoning, and the ability to develop hypotheses and test them with appropriate designs. Admission to candidacy is a demonstration of confidence that the student will successfully accomplish the remaining requirements of the program. Students who fail to achieve admission to candidacy, but have otherwise completed all other pre-requisites, will be granted a terminal master's degree.

A doctoral student must complete a dissertation. This document is developed through faculty-guided independent research projects. Review of the dissertation will follow the sequence of steps described in the manual,” Preparation of Theses and Doctoral Dissertations.” Copies of this manual are available in each graduate division and in the Library of Rush University Medical Center. The dissertation must be original and cannot have been used to meet the requirement of any other degree, either at Rush University or any other university.

Each student will have a Dissertation Committee whose role it is to assure that the student's dissertation is of high quality and meets the standards of the division, the College and the university for originality, contribution to the field and scholarly presentation. The Committee is also to assure that the student is making satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree. The dissertation committee is chosen by the student in conjunction with the student's primary advisor and should consist of at least five total members. The primary advisor must be a member of the Graduate College. At least one member of the committee should be from outside of the division, and preferably from outside of the institution. Once the committee convenes, it will choose a chairperson who cannot be the student's primary advisor. The chairperson will oversee the scheduling and activities of the committee.

At or near the completion of the dissertation, each student will share, by means of a public presentation with the academic community at-large, the knowledge that the student has developed. Students are responsible for posting announcements (at least two weeks prior to the presentation) on institutional bulletin boards and e-mailing all faculty and students of the Graduate College the title of the dissertation, the student's name, and the location, date and time of the public presentation. This public presentation must precede the final approval of the dissertation by the Dissertation Committee.

Upon completion of the public presentation, the student will meet with the dissertation committee to review the presentation, the dissertation document, and the student's preparedness to enter the scientific community. A majority of members of the committee must sign the dissertation certifying the completion of all requirements for the doctor of philosophy degree.

Master of Science

The master of science degree is offered in many divisions and programs. This degree is designed to offer students an intermediate step in a career path, provide research experience to supplement their primary professional path, or provide supplementary training for other reasons. The College offers two types of MS degrees: 1) the research MS is a thesis-requiring program that traditionally takes two years to complete; and 2) a non-research MS that is a consequence of either a scholarly endeavor (e.g. writing a review paper) or the successful completion of a series of classes and laboratory skills (i.e. the MS in Biotechnology).

The research MS degree requires publication of a scientific thesis that reflects the research experience of the student. This thesis may or may not reflect original work although original work that is published in peer-reviewed journals is always a goal. The student together with the advisor will form a thesis committee comprised of thee members: the advisor (who must be a member of the Graduate College) and two readers. The advisor will work with the student to develop a research project that can be completed within the framework of the program. The readers will assure the quality of the document. Upon completion of the thesis, the student will present the findings in a public forum open to the University. At least two member of the committee that includes the student's advisor must sign off on the thesis certifying the completion of all requirements for the MS degree.