Progression Timeline and Milestones

Appropriate progression through the Masters program requires that students meet the Progression Deadlines outlined below.  If a student cannot meet a required deadline, they should submit a Request for Extension.

Note: failure to meet progression deadlines without approved extensions may negatively influence the ability to receive financial aid and can result in termination from the program.

Note:  MS students, both thesis track and non-thesis track, are required to complete a Student Progression Report at the end of each semester after final grades have been assigned and before the beginning of the next semester of graduate study.  The form must be signed and dated by the student and the Major Advisor and submitted to the Graduate Coordinator.

Progression Requirements:

1. Grades Required. A student must maintain a cumulative average of 3.0 in all course work taken for graduate credit. Two grades of C are acceptable, but a third C will lead to termination of the student's enrollment in the graduate program. A grade of U in any course will lead to termination of the student's enrollment in the graduate program.

2. Masters students must establish a Major Advisor: Students will not be admitted into the MS program without a tentative major advisor identified by the Department. All students must have a major advisor by the end of the second academic semester of graduate study.

·      Only Biology Graduate Faculty can serve as Major Advisors.  Adjunct Graduate Faculty can serve as co-advisors.  If a student has a co-Advisor, they must also have a Major Advisor who is a member of the Graduate Faculty of the Department of Biology.  Furthermore, the co-Advisor must have Graduate Faculty status in their home department or Adjunct Graduate status in the Department of Biology, UNC Charlotte.

·      A student may switch Major Advisors at any time without negative consequences, although switching may delay the ability to meet Progression Requirements for the degree.

·      A major advisor can dismiss a student at any time because of poor performance under their direction or failure to demonstrate timely progression towards the degree.  If a student is dismissed by his/her Major Advisor, it is the student’s responsibility to arrange for a replacement advisor within 4 months.  If no faculty member has agreed to serve as the Major Advisor within the designated time period, the student will be terminated from the program.  The student must notify the Graduate Coordinator of the new Major Advisor using the Request to Establish a Supervisory Committee form.  

3. By no later than the end of the 2nd semester of graduate study, establish a Supervisory Committee: must be completed by the end of the 2nd semester of graduate study and preferably during the 1st semester of graduate study, and must precede approval of the Curriculum Contract, the Oral Candidacy Exam, and the Capstone project. The committee, selected by the student in consultation with his/her major advisor, must always include three members from the Biology Graduate Faculty. A typical Committee consists of a Major Advisor and two additional Committee members.  All members of the Supervisory Committee must have Graduate Faculty Status or Adjunct Graduate Faculty status.  The student must submit a Request to Establish a Supervisory Committee to the Graduate Coordinator, which has been signed and dated by each faculty member who has agreed to serve. The Graduate Coordinator, in conjunction with the Graduate Committee of the Department of Biology, will evaluate the request and notify each faculty member in writing if approved for the Supervisory Committee.

4. By the 3rd semester of graduate study, Masters students must have an Approved Plan of Study and Curriculum Contract: The Plan of Study/Curriculum Contract must be completed and signed by the student, signed and dated by all members of the Supervisory Committee, and returned to the Graduate Coordinator. The Curriculum Contract is a signature page and must be accompanied by a Plan of Study MCD or Plan of Study E3B (although no declaration required) must be submitted for students who entered the program in Fall 2014 or later. Plan of Study MCD or Plan of Study E3B form can be requested via email from the Biology Graduate Coordinator.

5. By the 3rd semester of graduate study, Masters students must have an Approved Oral Candidacy Exam: Both thesis track and non-thesis track MS students must take an oral candidacy exam, which evaluates the student's knowledge in his/her specialty area, as well as general knowledge of graduate course work and basic biological concepts. 

·      Oral Exam Format:  A block of no less than 2 hours should be reserved for the examination in order to allow for adequate time for questions and answers (though the examination may last longer or shorter than this time).  The examination is not public. Questions from the members of the Supervisor Committee will assess the student's knolwedge of his/her specialized areas of interest, graduate course work, and basic/general biological knowledge.  When the questioning is finished, the student is excused and the Committee then evaluates the student's performance.  After this discussion, the Committee will vote on the student’s performance. The student will be informed as to whether or not they have passed immediately following the Committee vote. The student will not be informed of the vote tally.

·      Forms for the Candidacy Exam:  It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the following two forms are taken to the exam and subsequently filed with the Graduate Coordinator

·      Oral Candidacy Examination Retake: In the event the student's performance is judged not satisfactory, the Supervisory Committee may recommend a retake, which must occur within two months (including summer) of the original exam. Students who fail both the oral exam and the retake oral exam will be dismissed from the Masters program.

6.   Non-thesis track students are not required to write a thesis proposal or obtain an approved thesis topic.


1. See Graduate Coordinator at the end of the semester/summer session BEFORE you plan to graduate to review the process and consult your Degree Works file to ensure all milestones and courses are correct. View the Graduation Checklist for the appropriate semester.

2.  Apply for Graduation. To apply to graduate with a graduate doctoral, master's or graduate certificate degree: Log into, select Banner Self-Service, Student Services, Student Records, and Online Graduation Application. Click "Continue" if this is the first time a graduation application has been submitted, or "Create a New Application" if one has been submitted previously. After completing all sections, click the "Submit" button.

  • This form is due by the 8th instructional day of the semester in which you will graduate. If you change your graduation date, you will need to submit a new form.

​3. Non-thesis Final Assignment or Project completion: In conjunction with completion of BIOL6800 and in consultation with the Major Advisor, the student will complete an appropriate written assignment or project for submission and acceptance by the Supervisory Committee. Completion is reported on the  Defense Report for Doctoral Dissertation and/or Master's Thesis by checking the box marked "Project". (Complete and submit to Graduate Coordinator.)


Forms and other Graduation Information Click here for additional graduation information available from the UNC Charlotte Graduate School.