Return to: School of Medicine: Academic Rules
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Students are expected to attend classes throughout the session with the exception of University holidays. When necessary, excuses for absence from class are arranged between the student and the instructor of the course in question. Routine excuses for illness are not furnished by the Department of Student Health either to the student or to the instructor. At the request of the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training, the Department of Student Health will evaluate the effect of any illness upon a student’s attendance and academic performance. Failure by students to attend lectures and other prescribed exercises in the courses for which they are registered may subject them to penalties for non-attendance.
Absence from written examinations will not be excused except for sickness on the day of examination attested by a physician’s certificate or for other cause that the faculty by special action may approve. An unexcused absence in such cases constitutes failure of the examination.
A graduate student who wishes to receive his or her degree must file a degree application with the School of Medicine. Deadlines for degree applications are October 1st for conferral in December, February 1st for conferral in May, and July 1st for conferral in August (or the next business day in the event that a deadline falls on a weekend). An official transcript of the applicant’s previous academic record confirming the substance and award date of his or her baccalaureate degree must be filed with the Admissions Office by July 1 of the year the student enters the Program. Students will not be able to graduate if the official transcript is not on record by the degree application deadline.
In the event that a candidate does not complete the degree requirements in the term for which his or her degree application was approved, the candidate must notify the School of Medicine of the revised expected date for graduation. The candidate must then submit a new application at the beginning of a subsequent term in which candidacy for the degree is again proposed. A candidate who requests degree conferral during the summer must register for the summer term.
A degree will not be conferred to a candidate who has a notation of “Incomplete” or a blank grade for any courses on his or her transcript.
A student may be required to withdraw from the BIMS programs in the School of Medicine if the Academic Progress and Achievement Committee (APAC) reviews evidence submitted by his/her Director of Graduate Studies and determines that the student is not making satisfactory progress toward a degree and/or has failed to comply with all applicable University, School, and departmental or programmatic policies, including but not limited to those governing student conduct, academics, and the Code of Honor. Tuition is charged according to the portion of the term elapsed before the effective date of the enforced withdrawal, and financial support allocated to the student for the remainder of that term is forfeited.
Students are required to register for a minimum of twelve (12) credit hours. These credit hours may be comprised of a combination of courses and Non-Topical Research. Students must register for 12 graded credits on the standard lettered scale (A through F) in each of the first two terms of study. Audited courses carry a full tuition charge, but do not count toward the twelve-credit requirement. The School of Medicine does not offer part-time doctoral programs.
The registration process is not complete until tuition and fees have been paid on behalf of the student or satisfactory arrangements have been made with Student Financial Services. Changes in a student’s registration record after the final day for dropping a course, including changing grading options, require the approval of the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training. Students are expected to enroll continuously through the completion of their degree programs. Students who have completed their coursework enroll in twelve credits of Non-Topical Research per term to maintain full-time status with access to University facilities while completing the research and writing of theses or dissertations.
Advanced doctoral students who are enrolled full-time, have fulfilled all school- and program-level degree requirements with the exception of the dissertation, and are actively completing a dissertation under continued guidance from the faculty may petition for Doctoral Completion status. Eligible students may request this status for up to four consecutive terms. Please see “University Regulations—Academic Regulations—Affiliated Status” for additional information.
Students who have completed all degree requirements after the graduation deadline for a given term or after ceasing full-time enrollment may petition for Degree Conferral in Absentia. Because a student is eligible for this status for one term only, he or she will not be approved for this status until the satisfaction of all degree requirements has been recorded formally by the department or program. A student may request this status up to 15 days before the graduation deadline for that term, but in such cases may be subject to late enrollment fees. Please see University Regulations—Academic Regulations—Affiliated Status” for additional information.
In order to serve as the primary mentor of a student in a BIMS-affiliated Ph.D. program, faculty must meet one of the following criteria:
- Hold a primary appointment as a tenured or tenure-track Academic Investigator in a basic science department in the SOM.
- Hold either a tenured or tenure-track Academic or Clinical Investigator appointment in a SOM clinical department or a tenured or tenure-track appointment in another school within the University and also hold a secondary appointment in a basic science department in the SOM.
- Hold either a tenured or tenure-track Academic or Clinical Investigator appointment in a SOM clinical department or a tenured or tenure-track appointment in another school within the University and have secured approval to train students from at least one of the BIMS-affiliated graduate programs.
Faculty who do not explicitly meet the criteria listed above may be nominated by the Department Chair/Program Director of a BIMS-affiliated graduate program for consideration as an approved mentor. These nominations will be received by the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs and considered by the Steering Committee. In these cases, an Academic Investigator with experience in graduate education may be appointed by the graduate program to serve as co-mentor based on recommendations by the Department Chair/Program Director and/or the BIMS Steering Committee.
Prior to a student officially joining a mentor’s lab, he/she must complete a Mentor and Department/Program Declaration Form affirming that (1) the approved mentor accepts responsibility for overseeing the student’s academic and research progress, and providing and/or negotiating funds to support the student; (2) the BIMS-affiliated degree-granting program has agreed to train the student; and (3) the Chair of the mentor’s primary department will be responsible for financial support of the student should funding from the mentor become unavailable.
Grades and GPA
The standing of a graduate student in each course is indicated by one of the following grades: A+, A, A-; B+, B, B-; C+, C, C-, D+, D, D- and F. B- is the lowest satisfactory grade for graduate credit. In courses where the grading option is Satisfactory(S)/Unsatisfactory (U), Unsatisfactory (U) is considered to be a failing grade, as is a grade of No Credit (NC). Students must achieve a minimum grade point average of 3.00 during each academic term and sustain a minimum grade point average of 3.00 cumulatively in order to maintain good academic standing. Unsatisfactory performance during a given semester may be considered sufficient reason for a student to be placed on academic probation or asked to leave a program.
A grade of Incomplete (IN) for a graduate course must be resolved by the conclusion of the next full term. An unresolved grade of Incomplete will be converted to failing grade by the University registrar 200 days from the date on which grades for that term were originally due. Courses in which no grade was recorded are assigned a failing grade 30 days from the date on which grades for that term were originally due. Failing grades recorded in this manner have the same effect on a student’s record and standing as failing grades assigned by instructors. Students carrying multiple grades of Incomplete or blank grades at the conclusion of a term are subject to probationary measures for unsatisfactory academic performance.
Instructors must submit grades via the Student Information System (SIS). Except as noted below, grades cannot be changed after a degree is conferred, or more than one semester following the end of the course, whichever comes first. The Associate or Assistant Dean (BIMS) may authorize a grade change only in accordance with the school’s grade appeal policy or when an instructor certifies that, because of an error in calculation or transcription, an incorrect grade has been submitted. The deans are also authorized to change incomplete or missing grades to an F or Withdrawal.
The notation NG (no grade) is used when grades are not submitted to UREG (Office of the University Registrar). UREG (Office of the University Registrar) will change the NG notation of a final grade upon receipt of the authorized grade change form from the instructor or dean representative. No student with an outstanding NG is eligible to receive a degree or certificate.
Students are responsible for confirming the accuracy of their transcripts. A student must identify and seek correction of any errors by the conclusion of the term following the award of the grade in question or prior to degree conferral if they are graduating that term. Upon identifying a possible error, the student should contact the instructor and Director of Graduate Studies immediately. Errors not noted within these time limits will not be revised.
Leave of Absence
A student who wishes to suspend full-time study temporarily may request approval from the Director of Graduate Studies and the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training to undertake a leave of absence and postpone his or her expected date of graduation. Depending on the circumstances of the leave, a student may be required by the School of Medicine to meet with one of the deans as part of the approval process. Leaves are approved for a full term or academic year, with a student eligible for up to two years of leave cumulatively. A student on an approved leave retains access to his or her UVA e-mail account and may under certain circumstances purchase health insurance during the first twelve months of the leave, but is otherwise ineligible for financial aid and the use of University facilities. A student must affirm his or her intent to return from leave. A student on leave must file a reinstatement request by April 1 to return in the summer, July 1 to return in the fall, and November 1 to return in the spring term. Reinstatement is dependent upon available funds and must be approved by the Director of Graduate Students (if applicable) and the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training.
Leaves of absence involving medical circumstances may be approved at any point before or during a particular term. In the latter case, tuition is charged according to the portion of the term elapsed before the effective date of the leave, and financial support allocated to the student for the remainder of that term is forfeited. Students whose leaves involve medical circumstances are required to meet with the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training as part of the approval process and obtain clearance from the Department of Student Health in order to resume enrollment.
Petitions, Appeals and Grievances
Petitions for exceptions to BIMS School of Medicine policies must be requested by the student through the departmental or programmatic Director of Graduate Studies to the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training.
The School of Medicine does not entertain appeals or grievances of the faculty’s academic evaluation of students.
Students are expected to follow complaint or grievance processes set forth in applicable University policies, including but not limited to those regarding:
- Graduate Assistantships
- Preventing and Addressing Discrimination and Harassment
- Preventing and Addressing Retaliation
- Standards of Conduct
- Student Academic Grievance Policy (PROV-019 )
- Student Rights and Responsibilities
- Student Sexual Misconduct
For situations not otherwise directly addressed in University policy, graduate students should attempt to resolve concerns or conflicts by working directly with a faculty member, the departmental or programmatic Director of Graduate Studies, or the departmental chair/program director. Conflicts or concerns that cannot be resolved to a student’s satisfaction within the department should be refer to the Student Academic Grievance Policy (PROV-019).
A student who wishes to appeal a particular action taken by the BIMS Academic Progress and Achievement Committee (APAC) may do so in writing to the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs within fourteen (14) calendar days of the date on which the decision being contested was communicated to the student. A three-person ad hoc Appeals Committee will be established that is composed of faculty drawn from a pool of 10 faculty members named by the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs, none of whom is a current member of the APAC. The student selects one member, the Senior Associate Dean for Education selects one member, and the Dean of the School of Medicine selects the third member, who will also serve as Chair of the ad hoc Appeals Committee. The student will be permitted to inspect all documentation considered by the APAC. The student will be permitted to have counsel, to submit affidavits and exhibits, and to summon witnesses at the Appeals Committee hearing. Legal counsel may be present to provide advice, but legal counsel will not be permitted to participate actively in presentation of testimony, examination/cross examination of witnesses, or oral arguments. The Appeals Committee is to conduct a hearing as soon as possible (ordinarily within 14 days) and will uphold, modify, or reverse the decision of the APAC. The Appeals Committee will provide the student with all the evidence against him/her, including the academic grades and written evaluations, and will base its recommendations upon the evidence presented at the hearing. The Appeals Committee will send its decision, along with a written record of its proceedings, to the Dean of the School of Medicine. The decision of the Appeals Committee will be final.
Readmission and Reinstatement
A student who voluntarily withdraws from the BIMS programs in the School of Medicine or otherwise ceases to enroll for a period of up to two academic years and wishes to resume enrollment must file a reinstatement request by April 1 to return in the summer, July 1 to return in the fall, and November 1 to return in the spring term. Reinstatement is dependent upon available funds and must be approved by the Director of Graduate Students (if applicable) and the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training. A student who has been absent for longer than two years must reapply through the standard BIMS admissions process.
With the approval of the PhD program and the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training, a student may transfer up to 24 credit hours of coursework earned in another graduate program (and awarded a grade of “B” or higher) toward the 72-hour doctoral requirement. In any case, at least 18 graded course credits applied toward the degree must have been earned at the University of Virginia. If nine or more transfer credits are awarded, the student’s date of graduation will be accelerated by one term. If 21 or more transfer credits are awarded, the student’s expected date of graduation will be accelerated by two terms.
A student who wishes to withdraw voluntarily from a BIMS program in the School of Medicine during an academic term must discuss the circumstances with his or her Director of Graduate Studies and submit a formal notice of withdrawal to the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training. Forms for this purpose may be obtained on the BIMS website. Students withdrawing during an academic term must do so at least one week prior to the examination period in order to receive notations of “W” on the transcript. Tuition is charged according to the portion of the term elapsed before the effective date of the leave, and financial support allocated to the student for the remainder of that term is forfeited. A student withdrawing after the conclusion of an academic term and before enrolling for a subsequent term need only provide formal notice to his or her Director of Graduate Studies. Reinstatement is dependent upon available funds and must be approved by the Director of Graduate Students (if applicable) and the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training. For more detail, see “University Regulations—Academic Regulations—Voluntary Withdrawal.”
Application for admission must be made on-line by December 1. A non-refundable application fee of $85 is payable at the time of application. Official decisions regarding the application for admission are communicated directly by the School of Medicine.
Applicants to BIMS may not apply to another Ph.D. program in University of Virginia during a given admissions cycle. Applicants who hold a Ph.D. or its international equivalent are not eligible for admission to BIMS programs in the field in which they have already earned that degree.
An applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree issued by a collegiate institution of recognized rank. Applicants who hold the degree of Doctor of Medicine may be considered for admission into the BIMS graduate programs.
An applicant should have achieved, at minimum, a B average in their undergraduate program or the equivalent as estimated by the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training.
Academic credits, undergraduate or graduate, earned more than ten years before the date of application for admission will normally not be considered as a valid basis for admission to the BIMS programs.
Official results of the Graduate Record Examination general test and three letters of recommendation from faculty (preferably those who have served as a research mentor or taught in the field of the major subject) are required in support of the application. Upon acceptance to the BIMS programs, the applicant must provide official transcripts of his or her baccalaureate record and any graduate-level work conducted at the University or elsewhere.
Applicants whose native language is not English must complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The minimum internet-based (iBT) TOEFL score requirement is 90 (including sectional minimums of 22 in speaking, 22 in writing, 23 in reading and 23 in listening). The minimum paper-based TOEFL score requirement is 600. The minimum IELTS score requirement is 7.0 in each section. This requirement is typically waived for applicants who will have received a baccalaureate or master’s degree or its international equivalent from a college or university in which English is the primary language of instruction.
Doctor of Philosophy
A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree can be earned by students who successfully complete their studies in one of these degree-granting departments/entities that participate in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.
- Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics
- Cell Biology
- Experimental Pathology (Molecular and Cellular Basis of Disease)
- Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology
- Molecular Physiology & Biological Physics
Students must complete a minimum of 72 hours of graduate credit. A minimum of 24 out of the 72 credit hours must be graded coursework, and no more than 48 of the 72 credit hours can be comprised of Non-Topical Research. Only graduate courses taught by members of one of the graduate faculties of the University, offered during the fall or spring term and graded on the standard A through F scale may be counted toward the graded coursework requirement unless otherwise specified in a program’s degree requirements.
Advancement to Candidacy Exam
A candidate must achieve satisfactory standing in the advancement to candidacy exam.
BIMS-affiliated PhD programs require that a student who has not earned his or her Ph.D. within 7 years of matriculation must successfully petition to extend their time for degree completion in order to remain in good academic standing.
The minimum length of study for the Ph.D. is three years. In exceptional circumstances, students may petition the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training to waive the third year of graduate work.
All requirements for the Ph.D. must be completed within seven years from the first term of enrollment in the Ph.D. Program, excluding periods of approved leave and military service. A candidate who requires more time to complete his/her degree must request an extension of time to complete the degree by submitting the requisite form and supporting materials to his or her Director of Graduate Studies for review. The form must be accompanied by a detailed statement of progress toward degree requirements during the preceding academic year and a detailed plan for completing all degree requirements during the coming year or some other suitable period. Approval for continued enrollment must be secured from the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training.
The successful defense of a dissertation exhibiting independent research in the candidate’s major subject is required. The primary mentor/adviser must meet the requirements of a BIMS-approved mentor (see above under “Faculty”). The title of the dissertation must be approved by the primary ad visor. The student should consult the advisor and Director of Graduate Studies regarding departmental/programmatic requirements relating to the dissertation.
If the student’s progress is judged to be unsatisfactory at any time during his/her training, the advisor and/or thesis advisory committee may recommend that the student develop a new topic. Alternatively, the committee and/or department/program faculty may recommend remediation or dismissal to the BIMS Academic Progress and Achievement Committee (APAC).
Completed dissertations must be submitted to the department/program for examination by the dissertation committee. This committee will consist of a minimum of four BIMS-approved mentors. One member of the committee will serve as a representative of the School of Medicine to affirm that the student has been assessed fairly and with due rigor. This individual may be drawn from the tenured or tenure-track faculty of the School of Medicine or other graduate schools at the University, but must hold a primary appointment outside of the student’s department/program. He/she must hold a Ph.D. and/or serve as a BIMS-approved mentor; any individual who does not meet these criteria must be approved by the BIMS Steering Committee.
A Director of Graduate Studies may petition to permit a person from outside the University who holds a post-graduate degree (typically a Ph.D. or M.D.) to serve as one of the core members of the committee by providing the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training with the individual’s CV and a statement regarding his/her particular suitability for the committee. This external individual may not serve as the representative of the School of Medicine.
A dissertation that has been successfully defended must be deposited with the University’s digital repository, LIBRA, by the respective graduation deadline cited above. The full text of the dissertation will be available to members of the University community and members of the general public who physically access the Library; the meta-data and abstract of the dissertation will be accessible online to a global audience. A student may elect to make the full text of the dissertation available online immediately or after an embargo period of various increments up to five years.
En Route Master’s Degree
A doctoral student in a program that offers a master’s degree may petition for that degree upon completion of the master’s degree requirements.
The School of Medicine offers the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) which is a dual degree MD/PhD program in Biomedical Sciences. Students typically enroll for 18 months in Medicine and then enroll full-time in the Ph.D. Program while completing doctoral coursework and research. The program aims to provide students with a lifelong passion for doing biomedical research and integrating this with a medical practice.
Up to eight (8) credits of Medical School coursework may count toward the PhD.
The degree of Master of Science in Biological and Physical Sciences will be conferred upon the holder of an approved baccalaureate degree who has fulfilled within the designated time limit all requirements set forth below and any discipline-specific requirements stated by the department or program.
Students must complete a minimum of 30 hours of graduate credit, with at least 24 credit hours being graded. Only graduate courses taught by members of one of the graduate faculties of the University, offered during the fall or spring term and graded on the standard A through F scale may be counted toward the graded coursework requirement.
A student’s particular course of study is arranged in consultation with faculty advisors and the Director of Graduate Studies. With the approval of his or her advisor, students may elect a limited number of appropriate courses offered in other departments.
A candidate must achieve satisfactory standing in a final examination (oral, written or both) conducted by two or more graduate faculty members designated by the candidate’s department/program. The result of the examination and the names of the examiners must be reported by the chair of the examining committee to the School of Medicine at least two weeks in advance of final exercises.
A department/program may include a master’s thesis among its degree requirements.
All doctoral students are provided financial support through a combination of fellowships, assistantships and a health insurance subsidy. Fellowships and assistantships are awarded with the provision that the student remain in good academic standing. Students are expected to enroll in residence at the University during the award period unless otherwise approved by the Associate Dean for Graduate and Medical Scientist Programs or the Assistant Dean for Graduate Research and Training. Students are encouraged to seek external funding for their research and are required to report the receipt of such funding to their Directors of Graduate Studies.
Graduate support is awarded upon admission to provide a secure basis for doctoral students to complete degree requirements over an extended period of enrollment. Students are strongly encouraged to seek funding from sources outside the School of Medicine to support their research and dissertation writing. Such awards confer distinction on the student and can augment the funding available from the School of Medicine. When alternate sources of funds become available, School of Medicine resources must be conserved. At the same time, the School of Medicine wishes to recognize students’ efforts to secure such funding by allowing for an enhancement to their standard level of support.
Any institutional award of funds to a student from sources within or outside the University beyond the standard support offered upon admission is regarded as an external award and is subject to the policy and procedures outlined below, except in cases where the combination of external funds and graduate support commitment is determined by an agreement between the School of Medicine and the funding entity (e.g., the Jefferson Scholars Foundation).
A student who receives an external award is expected to report the award to his or her Director of Graduate Study. In most cases, if this is a merit-based award in the name of student, that student will be eligible for a $1000 annual increase in support until he/she graduates (as long as he/she is a student in good academic standing).
Any portion of an external award designated to cover costs of education will be applied to the student’s University fees, University-provided health insurance, and School of Medicine tuition to the maximum extent allowed by the funding source.
Loans and Part-Time Employment
Graduate students enrolled full-time are expected to limit their other employment and obtain approval from both the mentor and Director of Graduate Studies. The student should provide information about the type of work to be undertaken, the weekly effort involved, the potential effects of this additional work on the student’s academic progress, and whether or not the student is present at the University on an international visa.
In addition to receiving fellowships and assistantships, graduate students may apply for financial assistance through the Office of Student Financial Services. All awards from federal loan or employment funds are based on need. Students must submit a University financial aid application and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to Student Financial Services. For further information or to obtain a copy of the requisite forms, please contact Student Financial Services.