Charting your path...
Suggested Sequence for the Graduate Degree
Graduate students are encouraged to begin with the end in mind, and thereby make the most efficacious use of their time at ESF.
To obtain your MPS, MS, or PhD graduate degree in the shortest time yet with the best supporting suite of classes and research experiences, consider the following steps as you make the journey.
- Enroll in ERE 898 (MPS) professional study credits or ERE 899 (MS) and ERE 999 (PhD) research credits each semester, starting with your first, as supervised by your advisor. Make research meetings a routine. Maintain 12 credits per semester (or 9 if a GA), as per graduate degree requirements for full time status, or fewer if you are in your last semester or have passed your PhD Candidacy Exam.
- Fill in and submit Form 2A for appointment of your Major Professor and Steering Committee. Select your Steering Committee in consultation with your advisor, and other members, to put a team together who can mentor your research, or provide logistical support. Not all committee members, including the reader, may be as closely involved in your work as your advisor and at least one other member. The Steering Committee is approved by the Graduate School.
- Fill in most of Form 3B for your Program of Study. This will guide your toward the supporting course work for your degree and realize this document can change (with Form 4) as your research direction requires. You can distribute this to your Committee for consideration, and seek their signatures to submit. You can alternatively convene a meeting (see below).
Planning your Research (or professional study):
- Write your draft Research Proposal, based on your thorough reading, albeit an initial reading, of the relevant literature. Components in this document might include: a) motivation, possibly demonstrating previous approaches to the problem, b) innovative and feasible science question(s), c) clearly delineated objectives, d) suitable, conceptually appropriate, and technically obtainable methods and tasks, e) likely results (titles of papers published, with target journals) and their intellectual merit and broader impacts, f) reasonable time line for completing objectives, g) adequacy of qualifications of research team, and h) appropriate and justified budget to support duration, personnel, supplies, travel, dissemination fees, and other support. Try to complete this step in the first academic year.
- Convene a Steering Committee meeting, to explain your Research Proposal with a short (5 to 20 min) presentation. Submit a copy of the Proposal to your Committee prior to the meeting and presentation. If you have not submitted your Form 3B, use this meeting to get it approved, signed, and submitted. Consider and incorporate their insights and suggestions on these draft documents. Try to complete this step in the first academic year.
Gaining Ground for Summer Research:
- Present your research at the SUNY ESF spring Spotlight on Student Research during your first year. Push yourself to layout a poster with your research proposal, or better, your initial results, and seek feedback from fellow students and your faculty mentors. Update your Research Proposal with initial results, or reworked theory, and consider submitting your Research Proposal and initial results for funding.
- Coordinate your summer research, which may include filing HR paperwork for your hire or reappointment by mid-April. Look into how you are maintaining your summer health insurance. You may need to enroll in summer research credit. Consider your research travel needs, and submit appropriate travel authorization forms (this may be done earlier in the year, as needed). Update your professional website to reflect your academic and research growth.
Sharing Exciting Results:
- MPS, MS, and PhD students convene another Steering Committee meeting to discuss your major results / outcomes. Explain your question, approach and findings in a short presentation. This should be done prior to scheduling your MS Thesis Defense or Doctoral Preliminary Exam. Use feedback on your presentation to guide your interpretation of results, which will guide your manuscript writing. Later, distribute your manuscript to the Steering Committee and determine if it is ready for peer-reviewed journal publication.
PhD Students - Clearing the Preliminary:
- PhD students who have completed sufficient research complete the Doctoral Preliminary Examination, which consists of submitting a peer-reviewed research manuscript, demonstrating your basic knowledge of the research profession. If your Steering Committee finds this document insufficient, they may request you take additional course work to build your subject matter knowledge and improve your research proficiency. This exam must be completed prior to the Doctoral Candidacy Exam.
MS Students - Preparing the Defense:
- MS students who are nearing completion request the Thesis Defense Committee (Form 5B), which includes your Major Professor, 2 Steering Committee members, and one Examiner. Afterward, the Graduate School identifies and assigns a Committee Chair via Form 5C.
- MS students coordinate the Thesis Defense Committee to agree upon a mutually convenient time for the Defense. Submit this time to the Graduate School at least 2 weeks prior to your Defense. The Graduate School will send out Form 5D confirming your Defense date. Distribute your manuscript and supporting thesis to the Thesis Committee at least 2 weeks prior to the Defense. Seek their feedback to prepare for the Defense.
- MS students complete the Thesis Defense and submit Form 5E to the Graduate School. MS students publish their work, as a Thesis with ESF and as a manuscript with your target journal.
MPS Students - Preparing the Capstone:
- MPS students who are nearing completion request a Capstone Presentation with the Steering Committee which includes your Major Professor and 1 Steering Committee member. A final document summarizing your professional study findings is submitted and approved by your Steering Committee.
PhD Students - Preparing the Doctoral Candidacy:
- PhD students request a Doctoral Candidacy Examination Committee (Form 6B), consisting of the Major Professor, 2 Steering Committee members, and at least 1 additional Examiner. The Chair is selected by the Graduate School, and identified on Form 6C.
- PhD students coordinate the Doctoral Candidacy Examination Committee planning meeting to discuss the Exam date(s) and format. Notify the Graduate School 2 weeks before the meeting, and they confirm the arrangement with Form 6D.
- PhD students convene the Doctoral Candidacy Examination Committee planning meeting. The Committee selects one of two exam formats: 1) consisting of 4 to 5 individual questions based on breadth and depth of core knowledge, but not thesis research, or 2) a single report on a topic testing breadth and depth of core knowledge, but not thesis research. The Committee selects the exam date(s). Submit the Committee decisions on date(s) and format with Form 6E.
- PhD students complete the written and oral components of the Doctoral Candidacy Examination. Use feedback from the written exam to prepare for the oral exam.
PhD Candidates - Preparing the Defense:
- PhD students who have completed much of their research convene a Steering Committee meeting to discuss your major results, which is done prior to scheduling your Dissertation Defense. Use this meeting as feedback on your interpretation of results, and use the feedback to guide your manuscript writing. Later, present your manuscripts to the Steering Committee and determine if they are ready for peer-reviewed journal publication and your completion of the PhD degree.
- PhD students nearing completion request the Thesis Defense Committee (Form 5B), which includes your Major Professor, 2 Steering Committee members, and 2 Examiners. Afterward, the Graduate School identifies and assigns a Committee Chair via Form 5C.
- PhD students coordinate the Thesis Defense Committee to agree upon a mutually convenient time for the Defense. Submit this time to the Graduate School at least 2 weeks prior to your Defense. The Graduate School will send out Form 5D confirming your Defense date. Distribute your manuscript and supporting thesis/dissertation to the Thesis Committee at least 2 weeks prior to the Defense. Seek their feedback to prepare for the Defense.
- PhD students complete the Thesis Defense and submit Form 5E to the Graduate School. PhD students publish their work, as a Thesis/Dissertation with ESF and as a manuscripts with your target journals.
Our past experience shows coordination of the above steps requires endurance, mindfulness, and meetings with your advisor and committee. Once complete, you achieved your graduate degree ambition!