General Exam Format (PDF)

General Exam Checklist (PDF)

Timeline

  1. Schedule General Exam with Supervisory Committee
    Deadline: Last day of Year 2 Summer Quarter
  2. Select General Exam Chair
    Deadline: at least 3 weeks before exam
  3. Schedule General Exam online
    Deadline: at least 3 weeks before exam
  4. Submit Written Proposal to Supervisory Committee
    Deadline: at least 2 weeks before exam
  5. Complete General Exam
    Deadline: Last day of Year 3 Autumn Quarter

Written Proposal

The proposal is written by the student. The format is similar to NRSA application.  The PI may provide feedback on the Specific Aims and on a preliminary draft of the Approach. However, it is expected that the final version reflects the student’s ideas.

Font size:  Times size 12 or Arial size 11, 1/2-inch margins, single spaced.

Recommended Document Length:  7 pages including figures, not including references.  The Committee may not want to read more than this and may appreciate a shorter proposal. No supplemental material should be included.

Submission to Committee:  The Written Proposal and this General Examination Format document must be submitted to the Supervisory Committee at least two weeks before the General Examination.  After submitting the Written Proposal to the Committee, students are encouraged to contact committee members to inquire about possible areas of questioning.

Experiment Design:  Design experiments that generally correspond to the amount of work one person can accomplish in a 3 year time span. Most proposals will have 2-3 Aims.

Written Proposal Format

The proposal format is similar an NIH NRSA Fellowship grant.  Here is a link with sample F31 applications:

https://www.nigms.nih.gov/training/indivpredoc/pages/predoctoral-f31-sample-applications.aspx

  1. ABSTRACT

Length:  300 words or less

The Abstract uses broad, general language to summarize the primary goal(s) and motivation of the research, the significance of the research, and the choice of experimental approach.   The Abstract should be accessible to any molecular-cellular biologist and should avoid technical jargon and acronyms.

  1. SPECIFIC AIMS

Length:  1 page maximum

Concisely state the goals of the proposed research program and summarize the expected outcome(s), including the impact that the results of the proposed research will exert on the research field(s) involved.  Succinctly list the specific objectives of the proposed research. Provide a 2-3 sentence summary for each Aim.

  1. RESEARCH STRATEGY

Length:  6 page maximum not including references.

The research strategy has three sections: Significance, Innovation and Approach. Describe the significance of the research proposed including how the proposed research will advance the field. The innovation section should highlight methodological and/or conceptual novelty in the proposal. The approach section will be the longest. For each Specific Aim, address the following 4 topics:

1. RATIONALE BEHIND AIM
2. ANY RELEVANT PRELIMINARY DATA
Performed by student or the lab
3. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN AND METHODS
4. EXPECTED OUTCOMES, POTENTIAL PROBLEMS AND ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES

The approach section should also include a timeline for accomplishing the aims and sub-aims.

 

To Do

  • Schedule General Exam with Supervisory Committee
  • Select General Exam Chair
  • Schedule General Exam on MyGrad Program
  • Submit Written Proposal to Supervisory Committee
  • Complete General Exam
  • Submit Exam Documents to MCB Office
  • The General Exam does not count as an Annual Committee Meeting