Frequently Asked Questions

WHEN DO I REGISTER FOR CLASSES?
Each semester, a course listing of classes will be sent to the coordinators. This list along with an enrollment form will be sent to the students with the deadline dates for registration and add/drop. The course listing can also be found at bison web. It is the student's responsibility to fill out the registration form and have it coordinated with the PI and departmental office.

HOW MANY CREDITS DO I REGISTER FOR EACH SEMESTER?
As a graduate student, you must register for a minimum of 9 credits or a maximum of 15 credits in the fall and spring semesters and a total of 3 credits in the summer semester to be considered a full-time student.

WHAT COURSES WILL I TAKE DURING THE FIRST YEAR?
Each first year student is required to take one (1) course from one of the following two groups of courses and two (2) from the other: Cellular and Molecular Biology: Biochemistry or Molecular Biology of the Cell and Ecology, Environmental and Systematic Biology: Ecological and Environmental Biology and Evolutionary and Systematic Biology. During the second semester, the student will consult with his/her first year mentor and take courses that will apply to their program choice.

HOW DO I PICK A LAB ROTATION
Currently, the Department of Biology does not have laboratory rotations upon entrance into the program. However, under circumstances, laboratory rotations can be initiated between agreed faculty members. Please contact the faculty members with whom you wish to rotate with to identify such possibilities

HOW MANY CREDITS DO I NEED IN ORDER TO GRADUATE?
In order to graduate with your PhD, you need a total of 72 credits (32 coursework and 40 PhD dissertation credits).

WHEN CAN I BEGIN REGISTERING FOR PHD DISSERTATION CREDITS?
You can begin registering for PhD dissertation credits after you have nominated your dissertation committee, had your overview/prospectus meeting, completed comprehensive exams, and have been admitted to candidacy.

HOW DO I SELECT A DISSERTATION COMMITTEE?
There shall be a minimum of five members on the committee including the thesis advisor. The majority of the committee, including the advisor, must have graduate faculty status from the University and must be from the Department of Biology. This committee must be approved by the Program Director and the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

CAN I APPLY FOR A STUDENT FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE?
Yes, the award package for graduate research / teaching assistantships and fellowships includes a 10-month tuition waiver and a minimum stipend 20,000 for Ph.D. students. The selection process for each category of financial support is aggressively pursued between February and June for the subsequent academic year. New and continuing graduate students are encouraged to apply early for these awards with the academic chair or director of graduate studies.

DO STUDENTS GET VACATION/SICK TIME OFF?
Student appointments are considered to be 52-week appointments and do not follow academic vacation schedules. Planned absences should be approved by the mentor and unplanned absences reported to them.

HOW DO I ACCESS MY HOWARD EMAIL ACCOUNT?
You can access your Howard email account through the webmail.howard.edu portal. Login by using your email account (username@bisonweb.howard.edu) and the password that is given to you. You can change the password once you log on. You can use this portal to update your information, forward your email to existing accounts, and access various student services.

HOW DO I FORWARD MY HOWARD EMAIL TO ANOTHER EMAIL ACCOUNT?
All students are given a bison.howard.edu email address. This is the address that will be used by faculty and staff for various reasons. If you prefer to read your e-mail at a different email address (such as gmail, hotmail, yahoo, etc.), it is important that you forward your University e-mail to that address. Just log on to bison.howard.edu with username and password; click edit forwarding addresses; enter your forwarding email address and click save changes. Need help? Contact the help desk at 202-806-2020 or login at http://help.howard.edu

MAY I TAKE A LEAVE OF ABSENCE?
A graduate student can request one official leave of absence for up to two years. This request must be submitted in writing to the Graduate Director and Dean of Graduate School who will prepare a letter approving the Leave. During this time the student will not be paid by the advisor and will not be registered as a full-time student. If the student does not return by the specified date, he/she will be considered to have withdrawn from the graduate program.

MAY I SUPPLEMENT MY STIPEND WITH OTHER EMPLOYMENT?
Students supported by a stipend are not permitted to work at an outside job. The stipends are intended to support the living costs of the students so they can devote full time to their studies. An exception to this policy is paid tutoring of first-year graduate students who require expert tutoring by upper-classmates. Tutors are selected by course directors and approved by the Associate Dean.