VII. University Policies on Academic Performance, Integrity and Safety in Research and Creative Activities
A. Academic Standards
B. Ethical Standards
C. Time Limits
D. Research Involving Human or Animal Subjects or Hazardous Substances
F. Transfer Credits
G. Graduate Assistant Illness/Injury/Pregnancy Leave Policy
H. Work In Absentia
I. Student Travel Authorization
J. Foreign Travel
K. Miscellaneous EEBB Program Policies and Guidelines
Policies regarding graduate studies at Michigan State University are established at three levels of academic administration: University, College, and Department or Program. This system tends to separate policies into three categories, and may result in no single reference from which a complete statement of policy can be found. This section is intended to bring all of these policies into focus and to clarify those that may appear to be contradictory.
In general, University policies override College policies, College policies override Department or Program policies, and Department policies override Committee policies. Program policies have been established, as necessary, to resolve issues not specifically covered by College or University policies.
All EEBB graduate students have a home Department that is affiliated with the EEBB Program. All EEBB graduate students are therefore subject to the policies of their home Department, as well as those of the EEBB Program, the College, and the University. Those policies specific to a student’s Department can be found in the Graduate Handbook of that Department. This section provides an overview of the general University policies that pertain to MSU graduate students, including those in the EEBB Program, as well as certain items that are of particular relevance to the EEBB Program.
Michigan State University is committed to high academic standards and expects all doctoral students to excel in their programs of study. A 3.00 cumulative grade point average must be maintained. The program of study cannot include more than three grades of less than a 3.0. Credits will not be awarded for courses in which a grade below a 2.0 is earned. If the student receives a grade below a 2.0 in any course during his/her program of study, he/she will be required to repeat the course.
A grade point average is one measure of academic standing. However, academic standards also include consideration of the student’s suitability for conducting research, competency in his/her major field and rate of progress toward completion of the degree. It is a disservice to permit a student to continue toward the degree without the necessary qualifications for retention. Judgment regarding retention is made by the student’s major professor and/or Guidance Committee members. If it is decided that a student lacks such standards, he/she may be asked to withdraw according to the procedures as defined in the publication Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities which is part of the COGS Graduate Student Handbook available annually from the Council of Graduate Students Office, 316 Student Service Bldg. This information on Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities is also available at www.vps.msu.edu/SpLife/default.pdf.
Research credits are not considered in determining the grade-point average. Justification for retention must be furnished to the Graduate School Office for any graduate students whose GPA is below a 3.0 for 14 or more credits. If a graduate student’s grade point average is below a 3.0, exclusive of research, the major professor and Guidance Committee must decide whether or not the student will be permitted to continue. The results of their decision will be filed in writing with the student’s home Department.
The Guidance Committee and student’s home Department are jointly responsible for evaluating the student’s competence as indicated by grades in core and other courses, research performance and development of professional skills and rate of progress as indicated by the number of courses for which grades have been assigned or deferred. Written evaluations will be communicated to the graduate student at least once a year and a copy of such evaluations must be given to the student’s home Department office to be placed in the graduate student’s file. A student whose performance does not meet the standards of quality, will not be permitted to continue to enroll in the degree program, and appropriate action will be taken by the student’s home Department.
Dishonesty in academics or unethical conduct in presentation of research are grounds for dismissal of a graduate student from the University. Such determinations will be made by a student’s home department following procedures of the Department and University. Specific judicial procedures to which a graduate student has access will be those defined by his or her home department. General MSU policies on Graduate Students Rights and Responsibilities, including procedures for adjudication of cases involving these rights and responsibilities, are available at www.vps.msu.edu/SpLife/default.pdf.
EEBB Program students and faculty are encouraged to think deeply and carefully about ethical issues that are relevant to the scientific research, mentoring, and communication in which they are engaged. All EEBB students and faculty should read the “Guidelines for Graduate Student Advising and Mentoring Relationships” and the “Guidelines for Integrity in Research and Creative Activities” that were published in the MSU Research Integrity Newsletter (Volume 7, No. 2, Spring 2004, pp. 9-14) and which are available on the web at grad.msu.edu/integrity.htm. An interview with University Distinguished Professor Hans Kende, who chaired the task force that prepared these guidelines, is in the same issue (pp. 15-18) and should be read for additional perspective.
The oral and written comprehensive examinations must be passed within five years and all remaining requirements for the degree must be completed within eight years from the time of a student’s first enrollment as a doctoral student. A Master’s degree must be completed within six years from the time of first enrollment as a graduate student. In all cases, the relevant period commences at the time that a student takes the first course that is used to apply to degree requirements, which is not necessarily the semester they were admitted to the University.
It is anticipated that most doctoral students in the EEBB Program will complete their Ph.D. in about 5 years. However, there is considerable variation in this time line owing to differences among affiliated departments in course requirements, variation in the rate of research progress depending on the dissertation project, and different circumstances among graduate students with respect to funding, family obligations, and so forth. Section III.A.9 of this Handbook provides a typical time line for the Ph.D. Program and discusses some of the factors that can cause delays along the way.
Federal and University regulations require that all research projects involving human subjects and materials of human origin be reviewed and approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) before initiation. University Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects (UCRIHS) is an IRB. See the UCRIHS web site for more information at www.humanresearch.msu.edu. Under the regulations, a human subject of research is an individual (1) from whom an investigator obtains data by interaction or intervention or (2) about whom the research obtains confidential information.
Michigan State University policy requires that use within the institution of living vertebrate animals (includes laboratory rats and mice, etc.) be reviewed for appropriateness by the All-University Committee on Animal Use and Care (AUCAUC) before use of these animals commences. This pertains to all university owned animals, including client-owned animals used in research, and animals studied undisturbed in their natural habitat. For general reference, the publication that details the standards to which the university conforms is the NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Departure from this published guideline requires written scientific justification in the animal use form. Principal investigators and course directors must obtain approval from the AUCAUC (phone number 517-353-5064) before initiating any research, testing, or instructional project involving the use of vertebrate animals.
The Graduate School will not accept theses or dissertations containing research on human subjects that have not been reviewed and approved previously by UCRIHS or research involving animal use without previous review and approval from ULAR/AUCAUC. The Graduate School will verify UCRIHS Log numbers and AUF numbers before granting degrees.
The University acts through its advisory committees and academic governance bodies to insure that individual research and scholarly projects incorporate appropriate safeguards when dealing with radiation, biological and chemical hazards. Additional information regarding these guidelines is contained in the MSU Handbook for Research and Other Scholarly Projects `published by the Office of Research Development (phone 517-355-2186). All individuals performing work with hazardous substances must accept a shared responsibility for operating in a safe manner once they have been informed about the extent of risk and safe procedures for their activities. Individuals are responsible for safely performing activities associated with hazardous substances.
All persons who handle hazardous substances are required to attend initial and yearly training sessions sponsored by the Office of Radiation, Chemical, and Biological Safety (ORCBS). Information regarding these sessions can be obtained at the ORCBS website www.orcbs.msu.edu or by contacting the training hotline at 517-432-SAFE or the ORCBS office at 517-355-0153. In most cases, after initial classroom training session, the required annual training can be updated online; ORCBS will provide up-to-date information on that process for those who qualify.
If a graduate student has a question regarding safety, he/she should ask the major professor. Most Departments also have a designated faculty or staff person who can serve as a resource. If the question of safety is not resolved at these levels, the student should contact the ORCBS for a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and other relevant information.
Two consecutive semesters of enrollment with at least six credits of graduate work each semester are required to obtain a doctoral degree from Michigan State University. A minimum of six credits in the degree program must be earned in residence on campus for a Master’s degree.
In some cases, graduate credits may be transferred from other accredited institutions or foreign institutions of similar quality.
EEBB students must check with their affiliated home Department for their guidelines on transferring credits that may be applied to the Department’s requirements. Additional permission is required if an EEBB student wants to use transfer credits to satisfy any of the EEBB Program course requirements that are outlined in Sections III.A.6 (Ph.D.) and III.A.7 (Master’s degree). That request should follow the procedures in Section III.A.8 for Course Waivers and Substitutions.
The following is from the Graduate School Guide to Graduate Assistantships. See also http://grad.msu.edu/all/gradasst.pdf.
“A graduate assistant unable to fulfill the duties of his/her appointment because of illness or injury shall notify the administrator of his/her appointing unit as soon as circumstances permit. Similarly, a graduate assistant unable to fulfill the duties of her appointment because of pregnancy shall notify the administrator of her major unit as soon as circumstances permit.
During the illness, injury, or pregnancy, the appointing unit shall adjust (reduce, waive, or reschedule) the graduate assistant’s duties as those duties and the assistant’s physical circumstances reasonably dictate. If total absence from duties becomes necessary and the graduate assistant is still enrolled, the appointing unit shall maintain the stipend of the appointment, provided for a period of two months or to the end of the appointment period or the semester, whichever occurs first.
The graduate assistant shall have the right to return to the assistantship, within the original terms of the appointment, at such time as he or she is able to resume their duties.”
Candidates for the doctoral degree may, with the approval of the major professor and Guidance Committee members, conduct some work in absentia. Arrangements for registration may be made by applying at the Office of the Dean of the College of the student’s home Department.
Graduate students who engage in travel related to their research, training, or any other University business are required to obtain travel authorization in advance. Authorization requires the completion of specific travel authorization forms, which will be processed through the student’s home Department. Students should also inquire about availability of Automobile Liability Insurance and Travel Accident Insurance through their home Department.
Students who plan to travel to a foreign country on Michigan State University activities should visit the Travel Smart website (http://grad.msu.edu/travel/) and consider the following issues: (1) Contact the Olin Health Center Travel Clinic (http://travelclinic.msu.edu/) at least three months in advance of your date of departure. Travel to particular countries may require one or more vaccinations or boosters. In addition, potential health hazards, travel problems and restrictions for each country will be reviewed by the travel clinic nurse. If you are traveling for pleasure, you are welcome to use the Olin Travel Clinic. (2) Check the International Studies and Programs website (http://www.isp.msu.edu) for issues related to safety around the world. (3) If you intend to pursue a research project in another country, you should have permission from the appropriate governmental agency in that country. For some countries it may take up to one year to obtain approval. (4) If you intend to bring plant or animal tissue samples or DNA/RNA back to the United States you are likely to need approval from the Agriculture Department or from the Center for Disease Control. Be sure to obtain proper letters of authorization to bring biological samples back to the United States. (5) Obtain Michigan State University Travel Authorization from your home Department. (6) Obtain the proper pharmaceuticals to take with you in case of an emergency. These might include, for example, small packets of dehydration salts if you have experienced excessive fluid loss, appropriate antibiotics in case of food-poisoning or an infected wound and anti-malarial/preventative medication. Be aware that in some countries possession of illegal drugs is punishable by a long prison term or even a death sentence. (7) Request from Michigan State University through your home Department the free medical emergency evacuation insurance at the time you apply for Michigan State University travel authorization. This insurance will cover the cost of your evacuation to an appropriate medical facility if you are ill or have had an accident. If the Graduate School provides funding, they will also provide a MEDEX emergency card. See http://www.isp.msu.edu/resources/travel/docs/travel.pdf for information on MEDEX. It is also helpful to talk with other people who have spent time in the country you intend to visit to get a sense of the customs, of food related problems, of the medical care, of travel arrangements and of safe and unsafe personal activities.
The EEBB Program does not have a foreign language requirement.
From time to time, the EEBB Program may have funds available to provide partial travel support to attend professional meetings or other scientific activities involving travel. The latter might include a special course, learning some technique in another laboratory, and so on. However, these funds cannot be used to support travel to field sites, whether local or distant, that are part of a student’s regular research activities. The expectation for travel support to a meeting is that a student will present his or her research as a poster or contributed talk.
The availability of funds to support EEBB Student Travel Fellowships will be
announced via email to graduate students in the EEBB Program. Both doctoral
and masters students are eligible for this support, but priority will be given
to doctoral students. Priority will also be given to students near completion
of their degrees, and to students who have actively participated in EEBB seminars
and related Program activities.
Subject to limitations on EEBB funds available for this purpose, the Program will make a number of small awards in partial support of professional travel each year. (The current award maximum is $400.) Any student who requests this funding must also seek funds from three other sources: the graduate school, his/her home department, and his/her major professor (research grants). If the travel is international, the student should request funds from the Office of International Studies and Programs as well. The MSU Graduate School has forms that are specifically designed for requesting travel funds and indicating the contributions from the various sources.
To apply for these funds, upon solicitation from the EEBB Office, students must submit the EEBB Travel Funding Support Application and the MSU Graduate School Funding Request Form. Electronic links to these materials can be obtained by sending an email to the EEBB Program Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prior to undertaking the travel (however, not prior to requesting funds), the student must also obtain a Travel Authorization from his or her home Department, as described in section VII.I above.
The student’s home Department, home College, the University, and outside
agencies and foundations provide the main sources of financial support for most
EEBB graduate students. From time to time, however, the EEBB Program may have
funds to provide partial summer fellowships to some graduate students. The funds
will be in the form of a fellowship paid directly to the student. These awards
will not include any benefits or tuition waiver. Only doctoral students will
be eligible for these fellowships. Priority will be given to students who are
near completion of their degrees, have actively participated in EEBB activities,
and show evidence of scholarly accomplishments; such accomplishments may include
prior presentations at scientific meetings, papers published and submitted,
and grants and fellowships obtained. Accordingly, these fellowships will be
made on a competitive basis, although constraints on other available support
may also be considered in the decision process. If EEBB Summer Fellowships will
be available in a particular year, then an email will be sent to EEBB graduate
students notifying them of the opportunity and providing instructions for their
The fellowship application has four required parts. Part I is a cover sheet available from the EEBB Office. Part II is a one-page summary (max. 500 words) of the student’s dissertation research, including objectives and progress to date. Part III is one-page resume or bio-sketch for the student, including evidence of scholarly accomplishments such as presentations at scientific meetings, papers published or submitted, and grants and fellowships awarded. Part IV is a brief letter from the major professor, which can be attached to the rest of the application or sent separately. The letter should comment on the student’s qualifications and progress, including evidence of merit such as talks presented or papers submitted. Also, if the professor lacks sufficient funds to provide summer support for this student from research grants or other sources, that fact should be noted in this letter. To apply for these funds, upon solicitation from the EEBB Office, students must submit the required documents to the EEBB Office.
The EEBB Program is not the home department for any graduate student or faculty appointments. Therefore, most grievances will be pursued through the procedures set by the involved departments, colleges, or other administrative units. In the event that a grievance specifically addresses the EEBB Program, the Program Bylaws stipulate the following procedures:
“Any EEBB Program faculty member or EEBB graduate student may initiate a grievance, alleging violation of existing policies or established practices by an administrator, pursuant to the procedures set forth in the Michigan State University Faculty Grievance Procedure or Michigan State University Graduate Student Grievance Procedure.
“The EEBB Program Director or EEBBPEC shall meet with the parties involved in an effort to resolve the grievance informally.
“In the event that the grievance is not resolved by the parties, a grievance hearing will be arranged by the Faculty Grievance Official (FGO) or Graduate Student Grievance Official pursuant to the procedures set forth in the Faculty Grievance Procedure or Graduate Student Grievance Procedure.
“In the event a grievance is initiated at the EEBB Program level, the Model Academic Unit Grievance Procedure will apply.”
In general, any grievance that involves graduate students or faculty in the Program, and which cannot be resolved informally, will be referred to the appropriate Department and College, and their respective judicial process will then be followed. MSU policies on Graduate Students Rights and Responsibilities, including procedures for adjudicating cases that involve graduate student rights and responsibilities, are available via the web at www.vps.msu.edu/SpLife/index.htm.