Discover CALS

See how our current work and research is bringing new thinking and new solutions to some of today's biggest challenges.

Exam Checklists

This information is meant to be a helpful tool; it does not replace official Graduate School requirements or your Exuviae handbook.

MS Year 1

  1. Change your special committee chair from Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) to your major advisor in Student Center (first semester).
  2. Complete the two required courses (ENTOM 2120, ENTOM 7670) unless you have taken an ENTOM 2120 equivalent and have received exemption from DGS.
  3. Form your full committee with a minimum of 2 members for MS (Chair must be in Field, others can be from other areas). Enter changes in Student Center.
  4. Have first annual committee meeting to discuss plan of action for research and a possible thesis outline. This is the first milestone toward the MS ** Plan on submitting a written document to your full committee a week before all meetings (this is generally expected).
  5. Complete the annual Student Progress Review.

MS Year 2

  1. Meet with the full committee well before the MS exam to discuss your thesis completion, dates for exam and materials that will be covered and the format for your M exam.
  2. Complete the annual Student Progress Review.

One month before MS Exam

  1. Reserve room/s with Graduate Field Assistant (GFA)

7-10 days before MS Exam

  1. Submit your written thesis to all members of the committee (ideally two weeks before).
  2. Have scheduling form completed and turned into GFA via the Online Schedule Form.
  3. Have exam schedule poster completed and turned into GFA.

MS Exam Day

  1. Submit online results form within 3 days of exam (automatically forwarded to committee for signatures)
  2. Submit final version of your thesis to the graduate school through ProQuest within 60 days of exam.

*In the case of a conditional pass clear guidelines need to be provided on the format and content of any reassessment.

This information is meant to be a helpful tool; it does not replace official Graduate School requirements or your Exuviae handbook.

Year 1

  1. Complete any remedial courses if not taken previously (ENTOM 2120 - Insect Biology).
  2. Complete the one required course (ENTOM 7670 - Professional Development).
  3. Form your full committee (2 members for MS, 3 members for PhD). Enter in Student Center.
  4. Have first annual committee meeting to present plans for research (thesis pitch in written and oral form). This is the first milestone toward the MS/PhD (this is done with your advisor and shared with the Committee and DGS).
  5. Complete the annual Student Progress Review.

Year 2

  1. Meet with the full committee 3 months before the A exam to discuss dates and materials that will be covered and format for written exam. The exam contains both oral and written components.
  2. The exam begins with a 20-minutes oral presentation on what the student proposes to do, with questions, hypotheses, predictions, and proposed methods to be following by a discussion/debate on the biological premises of the project.
  3. The written component, of no more than 20 pages relevant to the topic and including appropriate citations, should be decided by the committee at this meeting. This determines how effective students are at summarizing the literature, extracting the key components, finding the relevant references and identifying novel questions and avenues of research. The choices are:
    1. Novel proposal developed by the student
    2. Novel manuscript/literature review developed by the student
    3. Essay of a topic of the committee’s selection
    4. Multiple topics based on a question from each committee member
    5. Written exam: Open ended questions and the format should be decided during the pre-meeting

One month before A Exam

  1. Reserve room/s with GFA.

7-10 days before A Exam

  • Submit written component to all members of the committee.
  • Have scheduling form completed and turned into GFA via Online Schedule Form.
  • Have exam schedule poster completed and turned into GFA.

A Exam Day

Submit online results form within 3 days of exam (automatically forwarded to committee for signatures)

*In the case of a conditional pass clear guidelines need to be provided on the format and content of any reassessment.

7-10 days after A Exam

All committee members need to provide written comments to the students: Committee Chair will summarize all committee member comments and give them to the students in writing.

  • On the written component of the exam
  • Strengths of the student
  • Weaknesses of the student
  • Areas of improvement
  • Suggested courses

Expectations for Students & Advisors

  • Read! ... in your area of specialization, but also more broadly.
  • Manage your time and resources.
    • Be proactive about developing your research projects and timelines for achieving your goals for your time at Cornell.
    • Schedule time each week to anticipate both supply and personnel needs, as well as keeping track of grad school milestones/deadlines.
    • Timelines can and should be revisited frequently.
  • Maintain a strong work ethic and stay organized.
    • This involves keeping organized field and lab notes, working smart (not just hard!), and keeping a healthy work-life balance.
  • Behave like a scholar.
    • You are an ambassador at many levels (University, Department, Lab) and are beginning a long-term academic relationship that will extend far beyond graduate school.
  • Attend and be prepared to interact at lab meetings.
    • This involves reading all lab meeting materials ahead of time.
    • If you are leading a discussion, develop objectives and/or questions to promote group discussion.
  • Communicate with your faculty mentor.
    • Schedule regular meetings (weekly is ideal) to keep your mentor updated on your progress and to discuss research (develop new ideas, troubleshoot old ones, etc…)
    • Run plans by your mentor before beginning new experiments or making changes to existing ones.
    • Many faculty are happy to have your drop in on them with questions, but some faculty may prefer meetings that are schedule ahead of time. Ask your mentor what their policy is regarding drop-in visits vs. more regularly scheduled meetings. This may also depend on the faculty mentor’s teaching or grant deadlines.
    • While most meetings will focus on discussing research progress, pitfalls, and ideas, we also recommend that students meet with their mentor(s) to discuss any personal or professional challenges. Graduate school is no walk in the park! We want you to leave the Department being proud of your accomplishments and certain about your future goals and plans.
  • Keep your office and lab (and lab space) clean and organized.
  • Attend on-campus seminars.
    • Jugatae at a minimum, plus others relevant to your field and areas of interest.
  • Help train others in the lab, including other graduate students and undergraduates.
    • This will vary year to year based on discussions with your mentor, but will range from co-advisement of undergraduate projects to offering general assistance in training students on lab and field methods.
  • Present your work at in-house meetings (annual January Symposium and Jugatae) as well as national (ESA) and international (ICE) meetings. Ask your advisor for advice on other meetings that you should attend given your background and interests.
  • Apply for grants.
    • Demonstrating grantsmanship is excellent preparation for the future, looks great on your CV, and can help you to conduct projects that the lab may not have full funding for. Funding opportunities include in-house grants (Rawlins travel grants as well as Griswold research grants) as well as external grants (Sigma Xi, Explorer’s Club, NE SARE, NSF, USDA, etc.). You should discuss grant ideas with your faculty mentor. Letters of support may be needed for these grants, so make sure you give your faculty mentor time to prepare these letters.
  • Publish your work.
    • We encourage you to think of thesis chapters also as manuscripts. Manuscripts carry more weight over your scientific career and can easily be reformatted as chapters.
  • Back up your data and notes regularly.
    • There are endless options for how to do this, but students are encouraged to use at least two methods (e.g. CALS server, Cornell Box, an external hard drive).
  • Help you to define your research questions and design and carry out research projects.
  • Challenge you to know your area better than your mentor does.
  • Help you make connections for your career in academia and other areas to the best of your mentor’s ability.
  • Help identify training opportunities and resources, both in and outside of the lab, that will further your particular interests and professional goals.
  • Support your participation in local, national and international scientific conferences.
  • Provide timely feedback on your scientific writing.
    • Let your mentor know when you will be submitting grants or papers and give them a chance to read and comment on your writing. Advisors vary in how much feedback they give, but they should always be willing to read and comment on your work in a reasonable timeframe.
  • Open door policy.
    • While faculty tend to provide the best feedback during scheduled meetings, most faculty try to maintain a reasonable open door policy (see expectations of the student regarding this). Keep in mind that faculty may be busy with their own administrative, research, teaching and extension deadlines. It is always a good idea to plan important meetings in advance.
  • Promote you in the field both during and after your tenure at Cornell.
    • Faculty mentors under most circumstances should be willing to write letters of recommendation, provide feedback on grants and fellowships, and provide editorial feedback on manuscripts.
    • Faculty mentors may wish to present your work in scientific conferences or talks. They should discuss this with you, involve you in the talk preparation and acknowledge your contributions.
  • Co-authorship in papers.
    • Who is an author on papers arising from your MS or PhD thesis work is something that is generally negotiated between faculty and student. If faculty have provided grant funding, expertise, resources, or significant editorial help it is generally appropriate to include them as senior (last) authors on papers. We urge students to discuss the issue of co-authorship with their faculty mentor in order to understand their policy on this issue.