The Ph.D. requires completion of the MS degree in bioinformatics or closely related field. Students pursuing the Ph.D. need to demonstrate good research potential in their culminating master’s project or thesis. Enrolling in a minimum of two credits of the BINF 7193 Bioinformatics Seminar and taking a minimum of 32 credit hours of research complete the Ph.D. program, culminating in the successful defense of the student’s dissertation research, completes the Ph.D. program. Students completing the M.S. degree in bioinformatics or its equivalent at another institution may be admitted directly in the Ph.D. program, but may need to complete additional course work to cover all four cores of the UALR/UAMS M.S. degree program.
Within the first six months of entering the Ph.D. program, students must have an approved advisory committee and defend their dissertation proposals. The dissertation proposal should be written according to standard grant format as would be used for submitting a proposal to NIH or NSF.
Important Program Information
Transfer of Credit and Advanced Placement
Transferability of credit is determined by the program director, based upon the applicability of the courses to the student’s educational goals and research project. Transfer of credit may not be granted when courses have been used to meet other degree requirements. Additionally, students with relevant graduate degrees in related fields may petition the program director for an Advanced Placement which reduces the total credits required for a master’s degree to 29 credits.
Graduate assistantships that support research opportunities are available to qualified full-time students on a highly competitive basis. Tuition is paid, and a stipend is provided for living expenses. Students must pay registration fees, buy textbooks, and purchase any necessary support materials. For more information about graduate assistantships, the application process, and other financial assistance opportunities, visit the website.
A student supported by a graduate assistantship may not take less than nine credit hours during the Fall and Spring semesters and is prohibited from any other employment.
In the week prior to the start of classes, incoming students may be asked to undergo a series of entrance exams or placement interviews in which the student must demonstrate proficiency in the core areas. The student’s first semester of study will be based on the results of these exams/interviews and his/her interests. A student may be required to take additional undergraduate courses, which will not count toward his/her degree program, to remedy any deficiencies. Courses numbered at the 4000-level or below do not count for graduation credit and may not be covered under the assistantship tuition waiver.
An English Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE) will be offered early each spring term. This exam will assess the student’s ability to communicate in a written format. Each student must pass this exam to fulfill graduation requirements. A student who does not pass the WPE is required to take the English Writing Proficiency Laboratory (EWPL) which is offered each Spring term. The student must take the EWPL each Spring term until he/she passes.
International Student Requirements
International students whose native language is not English must take the English proficiency exam and have an official score that meets the minimum standards established by the UALR Graduate School. (Please see the UALR Graduate School’s website for information on approved exams and minimum required score.) Only students who have studied full-time for two or more years at a college or university where English is the language of instruction located in a country where English is the native language are exempt from this English proficiency exam.
Exceptions to this policy must be approved by the UALR Graduate School.
Students will orally defend their research before their Doctoral Advisory Committee. Printed copies of the penultimate draft of the dissertation must be delivered to the Advisory Committee members at least two weeks prior to the defense. The defense will be open to the public and must be announced at least two weeks in advance by the program director. Following the open presentation session (including the typical question-and-answer period) will be a closed examination of the candidate by the Doctoral Advisory Committee. The examination can be wide-ranging but will usually utilize the student’s research as a starting point. At the completion of the examination, the student will be temporarily excused and the Doctoral Advisor and Advisory Committee will vote to either pass or fail the student.
Doctoral Advisory Committee
The student’s Doctoral Advisory Committee will be composed of a minimum of five members, including the student’s doctoral advisor who will serve as the committee chair. Four of the committee members, including the chair, must hold bioinformatics graduate faculty status. The fifth member must be an external member who is not affiliated with the program, UALR, or UAMS. The Bioinformatics graduate coordinator in conjunction with the Bioinformatics Steering Committee, must approve the committee constituency.
The dissertation subject should be selected by the student and Doctoral Advisory Committee at least two years prior to the oral defense of the research. It must be a scholarly contribution to a major field of bioinformatics and involve all four core courses of the program. The written dissertation format must follow the UALR Graduate School’s Dissertation and Thesis Guide found on the Graduate School website. Changes may not be made to the student’s Doctoral Advisory Committee within six months of the dissertation defense. In event of extenuating circumstances, an appeal may be made to the Bioinformatics program director to change this requirement.
- Successful completion of an approved program of study (including completion of the Master of Science in Bioinformatics or a closely related degree) with a minimum GPA of 3.0 with no more than one grade below a B;
- Successful completion of the dissertation proposal defense; proposal should be written using a grant proposal format; the dissertation proposal defense will also serve as the candidacy examination;
- Successful completion of the dissertation and oral defense; and
- Successful completion of the writing requirement.