Graduate School Policies and Procedures

Directory Information

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (FERPA), the purpose of which is to let the student know what educational records are kept by the College, to give the student or alumni the right to inspect such records and to ask for correction if necessary, and to control the release of such information to those who are not involved in the educational process. Under the Privacy Act, certain Directory Information is made available to anyone who requests it unless the student specifically asks, in writing, that this not be done. Information that MCW considers to be Directory Information for current students and alumni is as follows:

  • Category I: Name, address, telephone number, dates of attendance, e-mail address, photographs.
  • Category II: Major field of study, awards, honors, degree(s) conferred at MCW (including dates), previous institution(s) attended, degree(s) conferred at previous institution(s) attended, title and employer (for alumni), enrollment status.

Currently enrolled students may withhold disclosure of any or all categories of Directory Information under FERPA. If you wish to withhold your Directory Information, please let your request be known to the Graduate School office. At each registration, you have the option of indicating that your Directory Information should be withheld. Upon departure from MCW, this information will also be included in the MCW Alumni Directory, unless you have specifically requested its removal either as a student or an alumnus in the process described below.

Former students may withhold disclosure of any or all categories of Directory Information by providing written notice to the Graduate School office before September 1st of each academic year. Requests received after that time will be honored for the subsequent academic year.

The Medical College of Wisconsin assumes that failure on the part of any student to specifically request the withholding of categories of Directory Information indicates individual approval for disclosure for the academic year.

Notification of Student Rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Access to Student Records

Graduate student academic records are maintained in the Graduate School and are made available to the student for review in accordance with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (FERPA). Any outstanding commitments to the College will result in grades and transcripts being withheld.

A student may request official copies of his/her own academic transcripts to be sent to designated individuals or organizations (other than the student) by providing a signed transcript request form or letter with the appropriate fee to the Graduate School office. Students can access their Graduate School academic record at any time by logging onto EASI. If a student or former student has outstanding obligations to MCW, release of the official records will be withheld until the obligations are paid.

If an “academic hold” has been placed on a student record, a transcript will not be released.

A request for an official transcript can be found on homepage of the student’s EASI account, or on the Graduate School Web site.

Authorship on Publications

In case of a dispute of an original work, if a student, the student's advisor, or any member of the faculty feels that publication has resulted in improper recognition of the original contributions of a student to the research, and if the problem is not resolved at the department level, a written letter expressing concern should be submitted to the Dean, who will initiate a confidential review, using the process described in the MCW document "Ethical Standards in the Conduct of Research: A Statement of Policy and Procedures at the Medical College of Wisconsin."

Information Sources
  • Official Information: It is essential that all faculty provide accurate information when discussing MCW policies and/or procedures with applicants and matriculated students. Information provided to an applicant or a student by an individual who the student has good reason to believe is authorized to provide information becomes binding to the academic institution.
  • Once an applicant has been identified as an acceptable candidate for admission by a graduate program, a recommendation for acceptance is sent by the recruitment director of the program to the Dean of the Graduate School. The Dean will review the recommendation for acceptance from the perspective of applicant credentials and program resources. For acceptable candidates, the Dean extends an offer of acceptance to the candidate. Only the Dean of the Graduate School may offer admission to the academic programs of the Graduate School.

Individuals who can be presumed to be authorized to provide accurate information include, among others, members of the academic administration, departmental chairmen, graduate program directors, and members of the graduate faculty. Accurate information also is available in the Graduate School bulletin unless that information has been superseded by recent actions of the Graduate Studies Council.

  • Application Information: Information about the graduate programs can be obtained from the Graduate School office. Replies to routine inquiries are handled by the office, which maintains a log of these inquiries. Potential applicants with a specific interest or question will be referred to the appropriate graduate recruitment director for detailed information.
  • Policy Information: Information about policies relating to the graduate programs can be provided by the Dean or the Director of Enrollment.

Grading (PDF)

Probationary Status

Probationary Status (PDF)

Annual Evaluation of Graduate Students
  • Every student pursuing graduate studies at MCW is reviewed annually by the student's advisor. This review is provided to the student to facilitate understanding of the student's performance and whether he or she is meeting expectations of the graduate program. A summary of this review is maintained by the program director of the graduate program, and a report of the review is reviewed by the Graduate School Dean and filed in the Graduate School Office.
  • The factors to be included include, among others 1) course grades, 2) research progress and aptitude, 3) performance on departmental examinations, and 4) overall professional maturity and proficiency. Comments on evaluation should reflect views of advisor, and where appropriate, the student’s Committee, including date(s) of the last Committee meeting. The advisor should summarize and evaluate the progress toward degree completion, as well as list any publications or scientific meetings attended by the student in the past 12 months. For students expected to graduate within 2 years, an anticipated date of degree completion should be indicated.
  • Students are to provide comment(s) on advisor’s evaluation as well.
  • If a student is judged inadequate on the basis of these or other criteria, the Dean should be notified in writing. Students who have received a less than satisfactory evaluation will be notified by the Dean.
Repeating Courses

Students are permitted to retake any academic course* with the permission of their program and course director. This will require registering for that course in a semester/session the course is officially being offered. Tuition will be charged at the current rate at the time of registration.

Both grades will appear on the student's transcript with the first grade having a strike (/) through it. Only the most recent grade from a course will be used when calculating the student's grade point average for the purpose of determining probationary status and eligibility for the awarding of a graduate degree. This policy does not apply to courses such as Seminar and Journal Club which are designed to be taken multiple times.

* This policy does not apply to Reading and Research, Field Experience, Doctoral Thesis, Master’s Thesis, Capstone Project, Seminar, or Journal Club, which are designed to be taken multiple times.

(Approval: Graduate Studies Council, 07/12/95)

Readings and Research Credits can be registered for multiple times by semester/session. Readings and Research is a course designed to provide evaluation and credit for non-didactic educational activities. This may include directed readings and/or laboratory research training. Individual programs may require additional activities. A student may register for this course concurrently in more than one department or program and with more than one faculty member within a department or program. Grades will be assigned individually by each preceptor according to the Graduate School Grading Policy. Registration for Readings and Research must be approved by the preceptor for each Reading and Research registration and by the student's research advisor or the program director if an advisor has not yet been appointed.

(Approval: Graduate Studies Council, 03/16/95)

xx295 - Reading and Research - 1-9 credits

Master's Thesis or Doctoral Dissertation may be registered for only once (one time) during the course of a student's degree program.

xx299 - Master's Thesis - 6 credits (Master's students only)
xx399 - Doctoral Dissertation - 9 credits (PhD students only)

NOTE: All programs offer xx295*-Readings and Research. Depending on the program, xx299-Masters Thesis and/or xx399 Doctoral Dissertation are offered. All graduate school courses are listed in the Graduate School Bulletin.
*xx refers to the program code number; e.g. 01295 which refers to Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy

Guidelines for Missed Exams

The following guidelines are provided as guidance to Course Directors in establishing the missed exam policy for their individual courses. Course Directors should inform students at the beginning of the course that these guidelines are the policy for that course or should provide the students, and the Graduate School, with an alternative missed exam policy in writing.

  1. If a student misses an examination due to illness, the student will be allowed to make up the examination within 7 days of the scheduled examination. To be allowed to make up the examination, the student must present a note from a physician or other health care provider documenting the illness. At the Course Director’s discretion, the student may be asked to sign a statement declaring that he/she has not obtained any prior information about the content of the exam.
  2. If a student misses an examination due to a death in the family (spouse, parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin), the student will be allowed to make up the examination within 7 days of the funeral. The Course Director should ask the Graduate School to verify the death. At the Course Director’s discretion, the student may be asked to sign a statement declaring that he/she has not obtained any prior information about the content of the exam.
  3. If a student misses an examination due to personal travel, the student will not be allowed to make up the examination. However, if a student intends to miss an examination to attend a scientific meeting, the Course Director should be informed as early as possible, and the Course Director, in consultation with the student’s mentor, can decide to not excuse the student or to allow the student to take the examination before leaving or to make it up after his/her return.
  4. If the Course Director and a student are in disagreement over the appropriate course of action in the case of a missed exam due to extenuating circumstances, the Dean of the Graduate School will discuss the situation with both the Course Director and the student and will make the final decision on how to proceed.

(Approved by GSC, December 2007)

Graduate School Course Evaluations

Evaluations (PDF)

Professional Misconduct

Professional Misconduct (PDF)

Grievance Procedure

Grievance Procedure (PDF)


Three graduation dates exist for graduate students at the Medical College of Wisconsin. These dates are set each year to occur in mid-late January, mid-late May and mid-late September. Each student is eligible for graduation after he/she has completed all requirements for the degree by the deadline set on the Graduate School academic calendar. Only one formal commencement exercise is held each year, and is always scheduled for mid-late May. All students earning degrees in the preceding September or January, as well as all graduate students who complete degree requirements by the end of April, are expected to participate in the May commencement exercise.

  • A photograph suitable for use in the Commencement Program must be submitted to the Graduate School prior to thesis defense. Graduate School will need 2 passport type photos, 2” x 2” or 2” x 3”. They may be mailed or e-mailed digitally to at the Graduate School. The backdrop for the photograph should be lightly colored for good reproduction quality. You may also make an appointment at Digital Productions at 414-258-5354.
  • All graduating students are expected to attend commencement. If distance or other obligations prevent attendance, the Dean should be notified in writing at the earliest opportunity.
  • The Graduate School holds a commencement luncheon for the graduates, their families, friends, and the graduate advisors. The graduates will be invited to attend with one guest and his/her advisor at no cost. Others may be invited to attend at their own expense.
  • Dissertation advisors are expected to attend commencement and hood their students. When this is not possible, the program director or graduating student should designate an alternate and advise the Graduate School office of this arrangement.

Refer to Checklist for Graduation

Graduate Program Review Guidelines

Each degree program of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences of the Medical College of Wisconsin is subject to quality review at intervals not to exceed 10 years and more frequently if needed. The review process consists of three sequential steps: (1) program self-study conducted by program faculty, students and alumni; (2) intramural review conducted by graduate faculty outside the program; and (3) extramural review by persons from outside the institution.

The purpose of the review process is to ensure that:

  • Program missions and objectives are being met.
  • Student admission standards are satisfied.
  • Entering students are provided adequate orientation and direction.
  • Program has enough students and faculty to provide collegial interactions.
  • Students master their chosen scientific discipline.
  • Students engage in meaningful research.
  • Students have an understanding of faculty expectations.
  • Student progress is regularly monitored.
  • Students have the opportunity to succeed in their chosen program.
  • Students have access to rewarding positions upon graduation.
  • Students are treated fairly and equitably.
  • Program has national stature.

Records of the review process, including program responses to review concerns, are maintained in the host department or institute and in the Office of the Graduate School.

Faculty Membership

Faculty Membership (PDF)

Guidelines for Transfer to Another MCW Graduate Program

Purpose: The purposes of these guidelines are to protect the student's interest, to foster communication, and to minimize potential conflicts between departments or programs.

On occasion a student may decide that his or her area of research interest is outside the department or program in which the student is currently enrolled. When this happens, the student should discuss the issue with his or her present advisor and/or with the program director to determine whether transfer to another program would be appropriate and beneficial for the student. If a transfer is deemed appropriate, the program director will notify the chairperson of the department.

The student should then consult the program director of the potential department or program as to the possibility of doing graduate research in that department or program. If the program director agrees that there is a good opportunity for the student to be in this department or program, he or she will notify his chairperson of the request. The program director will also contact potential faculty members within the department or program of the student's interest.

A student seeking to transfer from one department to another must make a request to the Dean in writing, obtain written support from the current advisor, and the advisor to whom the student wishes to transfer. Letters of support must include provision for continued stipend funding. All students must complete the degree within the timeframe allowed by policy which begins upon matriculation to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

(4th revision 7/12/93: Subcommittee on Department/Program Transfer)

Off-Campus Training and Research by PhD-Seeking Graduate Students

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences of the Medical College of Wisconsin is committed to providing a complete research experience to all PhD-seeking graduate students. Students will conduct research under the direct supervision and mentorship of a member of the MCW Graduate Faculty. It is expected that this research will be conducted in College facilities or in facilities provided by an institution affiliated, or contractually related, with the College. With permission of the research mentor, a student may receive training or conduct research at another institution or organization for a limited period of time. For domestic students, if the period of continuous away time exceeds 60 days, this arrangement must be pre-approved by the student's graduate program and the Graduate School Dean, and must be supervised jointly by an MCW faculty member and a researcher at the non-affiliated site. For international students, the Dean may approve training experiences that remain in compliance with the Immigration and Naturalization Service regulations requiring continuous direct supervision by MCW Graduate Faculty. Off campus research may not exceed one calendar year.

(2/3/09 adopted by GSC)

Withdrawal from a Degree Seeking Program

A student wishing to withdraw from a degree seeking program must submit a signed letter to the Dean of the Graduate School stating the reason for withdrawal. The effective date of withdrawal should be indicated in the letter. The Dean will notify the student's Program Director, Advisor, and other officials as necessary.

Administrative withdrawal will occur for any student who has not registered for courses over a 12 month period, unless the student has an approved leave of absence.

Vacation Policy for Graduate Students on Stipends

Full-time graduate students who are receiving stipends are allowed ten (10) days of vacation per academic year (July 1 to June 30). Vacation days may be used only during the year in which they are accrued; unused vacation days do not carry over to the following year. Additional vacation time may be awarded by the student’s designated advisor, subject to review by the Program Director. Use of vacation days after a student has finished his or her graduation requirements is at the discretion of the student’s advisor. Days between the end of one semester and the beginning of the next are part of the academic year, and students are expected to be present unless they are using their vacation days. Holidays designated by the Medical College of Wisconsin are separate from vacation days.

Students should discuss their vacation plans with their thesis advisor at least four weeks prior to the vacation. If a student does not yet have a thesis advisor, they should discuss their vacation plans with their Program Director. Vacations can not be taken unless approved in advance by the student’s thesis advisor or by the Program Director if a thesis advisor is not yet selected. Such approval should not be withheld unless the time away will seriously compromise the student’s productivity or academic progress. It is strongly recommended that students enrolled in classes not take vacation time while their classes are in session. If a student is planning to be away during classes, he or she should check with the Course Director to determine the policy for absences from that course. In general, personal travel is not an acceptable excuse for missing examinations or assignments.

Students should record use of vacation time on their monthly time sheets by entering hours of vacation on a category 170 line (MCW holidays are not recorded as vacation days). The Graduate School will keep track of vacation days used by students during the time their stipend is paid by the Graduate School. Thereafter it is the responsibility of the student’s Graduate Program to monitor the use of vacation days. Advisors wishing to grant their student additional vacation days should provide to the Graduate School a brief note signed by the advisor and the Program Director stating the number of additional days awarded and the reason they are being awarded; the Graduate School will inform the Graduate Program that additional days have been granted. A student and his or her thesis advisor (or Program Director if a thesis advisor is not yet selected) may jointly decide not to record an absence as vacation time if the time away has been or will be made up through additional effort on other days.

(Approved by GSC February 2, 2009)

Sick Leave for Full time PhD Seekers

Research assistants do not have "sick days" and record a vacation time (category 170) if they are away from work due to illness. If a student is away from work for more than three (3) consecutive days due to illness or injury, he or she should contact the Director of Enrollment in the Graduate School to determine if they qualify for Family Medical Leave, and for assistance.

Leave of Absence

Leave of Absence (PDF)

Graduate Student Conference Education Fund

Graduate Student Conference Education Fund Policy (PDF) - Revised December 2012

Copyright Policy

Copyright Policy (PDF)

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(414) 955-8296
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