The dissertation must be the result of independent and original research by the student, and must constitute a significant contribution to current knowledge in the biomolecular sciences, equivalent to multiple peer-reviewed publications.
Students must pass a written preliminary examination that measures achievement by the student of an acceptable breadth and depth of knowledge in the biomolecular sciences.
A comprehensive examination must also be passed in defense of a research proposal on a topic that is distinct from the anticipated dissertation research. This may be taken only after successful completion of the preliminary examination.
Failure of either examination normally results in administrative withdrawal of the student from the program. In rare cases, and according to Graduate College policy, a student who has failed an examination may be allowed a second and final attempt to pass.