MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Advisory Committee

M.S. students form their advisory committee once they have chosen their advisor.

The Advisory Committee bears the primary responsibility for monitoring the student's progress and assists in: 

  • Selection of courses
  • Development of a research program
  • The committee monitors the student's progress until all degree requirements are met

The committee consists of at least five members, including the student's advisor who chairs the committee, chosen to assure representation by faculty competent in the student's major area of research.

Helpful forms:

  • Advisory Committee Form 
  • Changes to the Composition of the Advisory Committee Form 
  • Pre-Meeting Progress Update to be submitted 5 days before the meeting 
  • Committee Meeting Report 

Advisory Committee Meetings

  • To remain in good academic standing, students are required to meet with their Advisory Committee soon after it is approved (within 3-4 months) and at least once every six months thereafter.
  • At least four committee members must be present at the meeting or attend by video/call-in.
  • Students are expected to provide their committee with a pre-meeting progress update at least 5 days before their meeting
  • During the meeting, the committee completes part of the committee meeting report and each member should sign the report form whether present or not for the meeting.
  • The committee meeting report, which includes the student;s progress update and the student's response to the committee's recommendations, is to be submitted to the student, all members of the Advisory Committee and to within 10 business days from the date of the meeting. The meeting will be recorded only if a report is received.

Candidacy Petition

Students are expected to submit their Petition to Candidacy for the Master of Science Degree by the end of their first Summer term

The petition contains:


Within two years after advancement to candidacy, with approval of the Advisory Committee, the student will write and defend their thesis.

The student must be in good academic standing in order to request the defense of the thesis.

The following documents must be submitted to Academic Affairs:

  • Thesis abstract for distribution in GSBS Essential (the abstract should be in MS Word -- not a PDF)
  • Electronic version of your thesis for anti-plagiarism check that includes complete thesis/dissertation without the references.
  • PDF of the draft of your thesis for formatting check – include all pages (i.e., signature page, title page, abstract, acknowledgements, table of contents, figures, figure legends, references, vita, etc.) Thesis Examples
  • Submit a complete draft of the thesis to each member of the Advisory Committee before they sign the Petition for Defense form. Please allow at least a week for your committee members to review your draft.
  • The thesis defense will be held no sooner than two weeks or later than three months after the Petition for Defense form is submitted to Academic Affairs ( ) and approved by the Dean
  • At the same time, pick up a packet of exit forms from Academic Affairs(see list of forms below)
  • Click for a handy graduation checklist


Defend your thesis

>Defend your thesis

Submit final thesis (approved by your committee) and exit forms to Academic Affairs

Schedule an exit interview with Dr. Eric Swindell or Dr. Kelly Moore.

  • We'd love to get feedback from you on your GSBS experience
  • We're always trying to think of ways we can improve and who knows better than our graduates?
  • The timing is up to you-- either before or after your defense -- just contact Dr. Swindell or Dr. Moore to set up an appointment
  • You don't have to prepare anything ahead of time and meetings usually last 20-30 minutes 

Upcoming Deadlines

A word of advice: Try not to wait until the last possible date to complete your requirements.  The entire process will be less stressful for you and your committee if you give yourself extra time to get things done.

Upcoming Deadlines


Summer 2018

Fall 2018

Spring 2019

Submit Request for Defense form, abstract and draft of thesis to Academic Affairs




Defend thesis




Submit final thesis and exit forms to OAA (this is the only true "drop dead" deadline)*




Formal graduation ceremony (attendance is optional)




A list of exit forms will be sent via email notification.

  • Alumni information (online)
  • Application for graduation (done online through myUTH)
  • Exit clearance form
  • Digital Commons upload instructions

Miscellaneous Information


The M.S. degree will be awarded when the student has:

  • Completed all courses listed in the student's Program of Work
  • Successfully completed the M.S. defense
  • Submitted the final thesis, approved by the Advisory Committee, to Academic Affairs for the Dean's signature
  • Completed all exit forms
  • The degree will be issued as of the final day of the semester in which all degree requirements have been met

The M.S. degree must be completed within three years of registration in GSBS. Students may continue registration after the three-year limit only with the expressed written permission of the Dean.