FAQ Current Students


I tried to register for a course, but I received an error code. What should I do?

OVERRIDES: You likely need an override for the course that you are trying to take. Many of the CB courses require overrides, so this is bound to happen throughout your program. If you receive an error code send an email to cancerbio@karmanos.org, include the Course Number, CRN, and error code you received (ex: CB7210, 12345, Departmental Approval). If you need more than one override, you can send them all in one email. Overrides will be processed within 24-48 hours.

Exception - Any overrides for CB9991 - CB9995 must be requested through using this form request

I am not sure which courses I should be taking this term...

Register for Courses Here

First year students - fall term: All first year students must register for these courses in the fall term:
IBS7015 - Interdisciplinary Cell and Molecular Biology - 6 Credits

You are also required to attend CB7700 Journal Club, and CB7890 Seminar, but you might not register for Seminar (CB7890) and only register for Journal Club (CB7700). It all depends upon your course load, 10 credit hours are 10/semester. Journal Club meets on Mondays at noon in the Wertz Auditorium  on the second floor of HWCRC. Seminar meets Thursdays at noon in the Wertz Auditorium on the 2nd floor of Hudson-Webber.

In addition to these courses, you will complete (2-3) lab rotations with CB faculty member. You will register for (2-3) credit hours of CB7710. An opportunity is available during the start of the fall semester to meet faculty members interested in hosting rotating students and to discuss potential rotations with these mentors. The Cancer Biology Program Director must approve your rotation mentor, therefore you are strongly encouraged to set up an appointment to meet with the director to discuss your selection prior to finalizing it with the mentor, before the start of the rotation. If you have additional questions regarding the rotation process, you are encouraged to contact the graduate officer. You will complete (3) - eight week rotations prior to selecting your dissertation mentor.

First year students winter term:
CB7210 - Fundamentals of Cancer Biology - 3 Credits
CB7700 - Journal Club in Cancer Biology - 1 Credit
CB7710 - Individual Studies in Cancer Biology (lab rotation) - 1-3 Credits
CB7800 - Rigor & Reproducibility - 1 Credit
CB7890 - Seminar in Cancer Biology 1 Credit
IBS70?? - Biomedical Elective 2 Credits
IBS70?? - Biomedical Elective 2 Credits
Written Comprehensive Exam (description below)

First year students spring/summer term:
CB7130 - Clinical Aspects of Cancer Biology (Clinical Rotation*) - 1 Credit
CB7996 - Research - 1 Credit or CB7300 - Special Topics - 1 Credit -  if a Special Topics course is being offered during this semester.
*The clinical rotation provides a month-long opportunity for you to accompany clinicians throughout the day as they visit patients in the hospitals and clinics.
Dissertation Mentor Selection (see description below)

Second year students fall term:
CB7700 - Recent Developments in CB (Journal Club) 1 Credit
CB7890 - Seminar in Cancer Biology 1 Credit
CB7996 - Research 3 Credits
You will also take two electives to equal 4 Credits. Please see Curriculum for details about appropriate electives.
Write your Plan of Work (see description below)

Second year students winter term:
CB7700 - Recent Developments in CB (Journal Club) - 1 Credit
CB7890 - Seminar in Cancer Biology - 1 Credit
An elective, and research (CB7996) to equal 7 credits

Second year spring/summer end of program:
Consult your Plan of Work. Always consult with the graduate officer if you have curriculum questions.

Written Comprehensive Exam

When do I take the Written Comprehensive Exam, and what is required?

The written comprehensive qualifying exam is completed in the spring/summer term of the first year. The current format requires students to write a written proposal similar to an F31 application (1 page of specific aims, and 6 pages of research) using data from manuscripts provided. Students must have successfully completed CB7210 Fundamentals of Cancer Biology, and have at least a 3.0 GPA, in order to be invited to take the written comprehensive exam.

Dissertation Mentor Selection Process

What is a Dissertation Mentor, and when do I select one?

At the end of your third rotation in the middle of the winter term, you will select your dissertation mentor. The mentor will be a CB faculty member with whom you have rotated during your fall and winter semesters in the program. You will work with this mentor until the end of your program degree. When you have made your selection, and he or she has agreed to support you through the remainder of your program, you will formally request permission from the CB Steering Committee by sending an email to the program director. You will be informed of the decision within 1 - 2 weeks. You are expected to meet with the program director to discuss your options before selecting a mentor.

Plan of Work

What is a Plan of Work, and when do I need to have one?

In the fall term of the second year, you will create your Plan of Work (POW) with the help of the graduate officer. The POW is a detailed list of courses you plan to take, and the terms in which you plan to take them. You will list all of the courses you have taken from the first term of the first year, all the way through your final term in the program. It must be approved by the program, and by the graduate school. The following forms/resources will help you create your POW:

Blank fillable POW
Example of a completed POW

Generic POW with CBGP requirements

Completed POWs require approval by the graduate officer and your dissertation mentor (advisor). Once they have signed, you will take or send your completed POW to: WSU Graduate School, 5057 Woodward Ave, Room 6303, Detroit, MI 48202 Maccabees Building. A copy of the final approved POW must be provided to the CB office.

Dissertation Committee

What is a Dissertation Committee, and when do I select one?

The dissertation committee consists of your dissertation mentor, and three or more faculty members who will supervise the progress of your dissertation project. They will also act as the examining committee at your oral comprehensive exam, during annual reviews of your work, and at the dissertation defense. Committee members are chosen by you and your dissertation mentor before the oral comprehensive exam, in the winter term of the second year. One member of the committee must be a professor in a different department. Your committee choices must be approved by the Steering Committee, and should be submitted to the graduate officer via email.

When do I schedule a committee meeting?

Your first committee meeting should be scheduled May of the second year, no later than June 1st. At the first committee meeting you will present your Prospectus to your dissertation committee with the goal of advancing to Candidate status. Use this form and instructions for Candidacy. You will schedule committee meetings bi-annually every year after this until you complete the program. Use this form at bi-annual committee meetings.

Once you become a Candidate, you must take CB9991-CB9994 in consecutive terms (with the exception of the spring/summer term).

PhD office guidelines: Credit Requirements
A minimum of 90 semester credits beyond the baccalaureate degree* is required for the completion of the Ph.D. program. The division of these credits will be as follows: at least twelve credits of coursework in the major (not including directed study or research credit); thirty-two additional credits of coursework, pre-dissertation research and directed study; and thirty credits earned in four consecutive Candidate Status semesters of dissertation research and direction after candidacy has been approved. Each department determines its own requirements for a minor. The total Ph.D. program must include thirty credits, excluding Candidate Status semesters, in courses open only to graduate students (i.e., 7000 level and above). 

Tuition Payments

I have a large balance on my account. What should I do?

All CB students are funded differently depending on their year in the program, and fellowship source. Tuition is paid differently by each source. If you still have a large balance on your account two weeks after the start of the term, please contact the CB program manager for assistance.


Do I have to pay the Fitness Center Fee, and SEVIS Fee (International students only)?

Yes. You will be accessed a Fitness Center fee at the current rate every term. International students will also incur SEVIS fees. It is important that you pay these as soon as possible so that you are not charged late fees. Your appointment as a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) does not include Fitness Center or SEVIS fees and the university will not pay for any late fees you incur because of late payments.


I have questions about my insurance (choice of carrier, physician, rate of co-pay, etc.). What can I do?

Many of your insurance and benefit related questions can be answered on the university's Total Compensation and Wellness page. If you cannot find what you are looking for, you can contact a Total Compensation and Wellness staff person from their staff directory.


I am ready to Graduate! What should I do?

Plan ahead! It is best to familiarize yourself with university graduation and dissertation deadlines two terms before you plan to graduate. Inform the graduate officer one full term before you plan to graduate to keep the program abreast of your progress. Inform the program manager when you have selected a location and date to defend your dissertation. Students and faculty will be invited to support and encourage you on the day of your defense.

Deadlines, full instructions for the final defense, manuscript submission, and publishing, and for other very useful information can be found here.

Finally, be sure you apply for graduation.