Thesis Standards

Thesis proposal

A written thesis proposal, presentation and thesis committee discussion of the proposal must be completed. This requirement may be accomplished during the Oral Qualifying Examination or at a separate committee meeting for this purpose. Your Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) must be approved prior to this committee discussion.

The Mayo Clinic Institutional Review Board must review all research protocols that involve the use of human subjects. It's your responsibility to secure such approval before you begin your research.

Preparation of the thesis proposal

The thesis is the most important document that you will prepare during your graduate studies. It's an archival record of the scientific accomplishments that justify the awarding of your Ph.D. degree.

Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences has developed standards for thesis formatting and style, which you should closely follow (must be logged in to the Mayo network).

At least three weeks before your thesis defense date — and before distribution of your thesis to the members of your TAC — your mentor must sign the Verification that the Thesis is Ready to Defend form, which indicates that he or she has read your thesis and that it's ready for defense.

Publication requirement

Your Ph.D. thesis research must make a substantial contribution to the biomedical literature, and preparing work for publication is an important part of research training. The expectation is that your thesis research will result in multiple publications. To graduate, you need to publish at least one original peer-reviewed paper on which you are first author.

You are required to indicate in publications your affiliation with and support from the CTSA and Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Exceptions to the publication requirement must be submitted as a recommendation from your TAC to the Mayo Graduate School Education Committee, which reviews the request.

Final Oral Examination (thesis defense)

The Final Oral Examination will be scheduled after you've:

  • Passed both the Written Qualifying Examination and Oral Qualifying Examination
  • Completed all course work shown on your Degree Program form
  • Filed a copy of the title page of your thesis with Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences must be informed of the date of your Final Oral Examination at least three weeks in advance, which allows time for the Ph.D. Final Oral Examination Report form to be sent to your TAC chair. Your exam will be open to Mayo Clinic faculty, staff and students. Members of your TAC should receive copies of your thesis at least three weeks prior to the Final Oral Examination.

To pass, only one dissenting ("fail") vote is allowed. If any member of your TAC is not physically present or connected via videoconference or teleconference, his or her vote is counted as a fail vote, so no more than one TAC member may be absent for the Final Oral Examination.

If more than one TAC member feels that you did not pass, a determination of fail must be made. The Final Oral Examination may be taken no more than twice. If you do not pass it on your first attempt, you must retake it by the end of the quarter following the quarter in which you first took the exam. Failing the Final Oral Examination twice will result in dismissal.

Final thesis corrections

After you've passed the Final Oral Examination, members of your TAC must sign a form indicating they are satisfied that any final corrections to the thesis have been made. Four of the five committee members must have signed this form before you will be cleared to graduate. Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences will not certify completion of degree requirements until the final thesis has been submitted.

Additional information on thesis defense and completion procedures can be found in the Ph.D. Defense and Completion Information document (must be logged in to the Mayo network).