Jun 20, 2018  
2012-2013 Graduate Catalog 
2012-2013 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences: Biological Communication

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Department of Biological Sciences
375 Dodge Hall   (map)
(248) 370-3550 • Fax (248) 370-4225

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Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences
Program Committee members:

Kathleen H. Moore, Professor of Chemistry, Chair
Bradley J. Roth, Professor of Physics
Douglas L. Wendell, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Xiangqun Zeng, Professor of Chemistry


Graduate Coordinator:
Douglas L. Wendell
316 Dodge Hall
(248) 370-4457


Program description

The College of Arts and Sciences offers a doctoral degree in biomedical sciences with a specialization in biological communication that is centered in the Department of Biological Sciences. The program requires a strong academic background in biology including cellular and molecular biology. Biological communication refers to the mechanisms of production of and response to signals in biological systems. The processes that it encompasses range from intracellular and intercellular signaling to chemical communication among organisms. Biological communication at the intercellular, intracellular, and molecular level is a component of almost every disease. Many pathological conditions are treated by pharmacological manipulation of intercellular and intracellular communication processes, and this continues to be a major area of biomedical research. Graduates of this specialization will be trained in experimental biology through formal coursework and original research.

Admission terms and application deadlines

Applicants are admitted for Fall semester only. Before an applicant’s file can be reviewed for full program admission, all application documents must be received in Graduate Admissions by the semester deadline listed below.

  • April 1, 2012 for fall semester

Applications received after the due date may be reviewed, subject to space availability.

Readmission and program transfer

Requests for readmission and program transfers must be completed and approved prior to the beginning of a semester.

International application deadlines

International applications are reviewed for fall and winter admission only. To ensure adequate time for review, international applications must be completed at least six months before the desired date of intended enrollment in the University. All international application materials must be submitted by May 1 for fall admission and by September 1 for winter admission. International applicants are not eligible for Special Graduate classification.

Application requirements

To be considered for graduate admission, applicants must submit all of the following University and Program application documents by the published application deadlines:

University graduate application requirements
  • Application for Admission to Graduate Study   
  • Official transcripts providing evidence of an earned baccalaureate degree from an accredited U.S. institution, OR a degree equivalent to a four-year U.S. baccalaureate degree from a college or university of government-recognized standing.
  • Official transcripts for all post-secondary educational institutions from which the applicant earned a degree (beginning with the first baccalaureate) and for all enrollment in graduate-level coursework beyond the bachelor’s degree. International university transcripts must be evaluated by a professional credential evaluation service.
    • As part of the admission requirements, graduate programs may require official transcripts from post-secondary educational institutions from which the applicant earned an associate’s degree and all enrollment in coursework both pre- and post-bachelor’s degree.
  • Two official and original Recommendation for Graduate Admission forms
  • Proof of English language proficiency
  • International supplemental application and supporting documentation must be submitted before international applicants can be issued the Certification of Eligibility (I-20). This certificate is required to apply for a student visa from the U.S. embassy or consulate.
Program application requirements
  • Applicants must have a strong academic background in biology including cellular and molecular biology. Undergraduate academic record should also typically include physics, calculus and statistics.
  • An essay describing their interest in the program, expectations of what graduate study entails, and career goals.
  • Applicants must take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and arrange for their official GRE scores to be submitted to Oakland University. The institution code for Oakland University is 1497.
  • The department requires a total of three Recommendation for Graduate Admission forms. Recommendations must be submitted directly by individuals who can evaluate the applicant’s potential for graduate-level scientific research.

Admission review and assessment

Admission to graduate study at Oakland University is selective. In making admission recommendations to Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning, each department assesses the potential of applicants for success in the program by examining their undergraduate records, goal statement, letters of recommendation, prerequisite courses and any other admission requirements established by the academic department.

Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Program Committee

The program committee, appointed by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, consists of one faculty member from each of the three biomedical sciences specialization areas* as well as the coordinator of graduate programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, who serves as chair of the program committee. The program committee advises the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences on admission of students, selection of student committees, proposals for changes in degree requirements and approval of doctoral dissertations.
* Biological Communication, Health and Environmental Chemistry, and Medical Physics

Biomedical Sciences doctoral program specialization committees

Three specialization committees, appointed by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences on recommendations from the chairs of the chemistry, physics, and biology departments, are responsible for preliminary screening of applications for admission, preliminary approval of dissertation committees, approval of course selections by each student, certification of fulfillment of proficiency requirements by each student, administration and grading of preliminary examinations for each student, and proposal of any modifications in degree requirements for students in that specialization. Each specialization committee appoints specific faculty members to advise each incoming student selecting that specialization until the student’s dissertation committee is established.

Transfer credits

Accepted applicants who have previously earned a master’s degree from Oakland University or another regionally accredited university may request to apply up to 32 credits toward their doctoral degree. This petition must be approved by the Specialization in Biological Communication Committee and Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning. Any credits transferred from an institution other than Oakland University must be graduate level credits with a grade of 3.0 or above in each course, and be approved by the Specialization in Biological Communication Committee and Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning.

Degree requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy in biomedical sciences: biological communication degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of 90 credits in an approved program of study, successful performance on an oral and written comprehensive examination, and successful completion of a dissertation.

Course requirements

a. Core requirements

b. Electives

  •  Additional graduate-level courses may be taken as electives mutually agreed upon by the student, adviser and dissertation committee (variable credits)

c. Dissertation

Satisfactory academic progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the term used to denote a student’s successful completion of coursework toward a certificate or degree. Federal regulations require the Office of Financial Aid to monitor Satisfactory Academic Progress for all financial aid recipients each semester.

Students who fall behind in their coursework, or fail to achieve minimum standards for grade point average and completion of classes, may lose their eligibility for all types of federal, state and university aid. Contact the Office of Financial Aid for additional details.

Good academic standing

All graduate students are expected to remain in good academic standing throughout the entire course of their graduate program. To be in good academic standing, a graduate student must make satisfactory progress toward fulfilling degree requirements, including the completion of critical degree milestones as set forth by the academic program. The student must also maintain a minimum semester and overall GPA of 3.0.

Good academic standing is a requirement for:

  • Holding a Graduate Assistantship
  • Receiving a fellowship or scholarship
  • Advancing to candidacy for a graduate degree
  • Going on a leave of absence
  • Obtaining a graduate certificate or degree from Oakland University.

Additionally, graduate students must meet all department academic standards which may be more stringent than the minimum set forth by the University.

Graduate students who are not in good academic standing for any reason are subject to probation and/or dismissal from further graduate study.

Related program information

Plan of study

All accepted applicants, in consultation with their assigned faculty program adviser, must develop a plan of study that details specific courses the students will use to satisfy their degree requirements. The plan of study must be approved by the committee adviser and submitted to Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning.

Preliminary examination

Within two years after admission into the program, the student must pass a comprehensive written and oral examination. This examination consists of three written exams and an oral exam. The examination is intended to determine the extent of the student’s knowledge and fitness for the doctoral degree and will be designed and evaluated by the biological communication specialization committee. If the student does not pass the examination, the specialization committee may allow the student to retake the examination within one year.

Failure to pass the examination within two attempts shall constitute failure in the Ph.D. program.

Dissertation committee

A dissertation committee consisting of at least three members, one of whom serves as dissertation adviser, will be chosen by the specialization committee and the student in question. The student’s dissertation adviser will be chairperson of the committee. The committee is charged with the guidance of the student in course selection, review of dissertation proposals before initiation of a project, and approval of the completed dissertation.

Research and dissertation

An integral and major component of the program is the successful completion of original research using state-of-the-art experimental or theoretical methods to study a problem of current interest. Each student shall, in consultation with their adviser, prepare a dissertation proposal outlining the problem to be studied, a survey of the appropriate literature, a description of the appropriate techniques, and an outline of the experiments to be performed. The student shall, at the request of the dissertation committee, orally defend the proposal or elaborate on the methods for data collection and analysis. The project shall be deemed ready for preparation of dissertation at such time as the student’s committee agrees that the student has completed the project and that the student is an expert in the use of specific methods required by the project. At that time, the student shall prepare a doctoral dissertation for submission to the committee and shall defend the dissertation in a public oral examination conducted by the committee and attended by the specialization committee. Acceptance of the dissertation by Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning requires favorable recommendations by the dissertation and specialization committee. All dissertations must conform to university standards (see Thesis and Dissertation ).


All students are required to fulfill a residency requirement for this program. Although students may complete some of the program on a part-time basis, continuous full-time enrollment is highly preferred. The minimal residency requirement shall be full-time residency (12 credits per semester) for at least three consecutive full semesters with at least two of these devoted primarily to the student’s research project.

Continuous enrollment

The continuous enrollment policy for doctoral students requires continuous registration of graduate students for at least 1 credit each semester in the academic year to maintain an active graduate student status. This includes semesters in which the comprehensive, preliminary or qualifying examination is taken, defense, and each subsequent term (fall and winter) until the degree requirements are met and the dissertation is submitted to Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning.

Some agency and graduate assistantship eligibility may have course-load requirements that exceed the minimum registration requirements of the Continuous Enrollment Policy (e.g., Veterans Affairs, Immigration and Naturalization for international students, and federal financial aid programs). Therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to register for the appropriate number of credits that are required for funding eligibility and/or compliance as outlined by specific agency regulations under which they are governed.

Time limits

The maximum time limit for completing a Ph.D. degree is no more than 10 years from the term of the first course enrollment in the doctoral program.

The Time Limit for Completing a Ph.D. Degree policy requires a student to achieve candidacy within six years from the first course enrollment in the doctoral program. After being advanced to candidacy, a student is expected to complete the remaining degree requirements within four years (including the dissertation defense).



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