Section VI: Student Appointments and Financial Support


Basic Graduate School policies are stated in Section 9 (Graduate Associates) and Section 10 (Graduate Fellowships) of the Graduate School Handbook, and in publications from the Office of International Affairs and English as a Second Language Programs. 

It is the philosophy of the faculty and the Graduate Studies Committee that, whenever fiscally possible, all doctoral students actively studying in the MCDB Program should be provided with financial support by either the Program or by their dissertation advisor.  Consequently, admission depends in part upon the availability of support for the incoming student.  MCDB students are normally supported as Graduate Research Associates (GRAs) or Graduate Fellows.

VI.1  Graduate Associate appointments

A graduate student’s principal objective is to earn a graduate degree. Appointment as a Graduate Associate contributes to that objective by providing an apprenticeship experience along with financial support. This apprenticeship complements formal instruction and gives the student practical, personal experience that can be gained only by performing research activities. It is expected that Graduate Associate responsibilities will not interfere with a student’s reasonable progress toward completion of the graduate degree.  MCDB students may be appointed as a Graduate Research Associate (GRA) or a Graduate Teaching Associate (GTA). The stipend level is set annually by the Program and all students are expected to receive this stipend at a minimum. Graduate Associates are paid on the last working day of each month.

Graduate Associate appointments are accompanied by fee authorizations, which means that students are not responsible for paying general and instructional fees for their tuition.  However, students are responsible for paying a Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) fee, student activity fee, facility fee, and student recreation fee.  All students must contribute to the subsidized student health plan unless they can document that insurance is available from another source.  Graduate Associates are eligible for staff parking, staff special and sporting event tickets, and faculty/staff library privileges. Parking fees, late penalties etc. are the student’s responsibility.

Graduate Associate appointments are for 50% time, with the balance of their time to be devoted to the coursework and training required for their degree. Renewal is dependent upon satisfactory performance. Students are not permitted to hold other jobs while on Graduate Associate appointments without written permission from the Program. 

VI.2  Terms of Appointment

In addition to the requirements listed on the Graduate Associate Appointment Contract, to hold a GA appointment, MCDB students must:

  1. Be registered for the required minimum number of credit hours specified in Section IX of this Handbook
  2. Perform their GA duties satisfactorily
  3. Not hold other jobs without written permission from the program
  4. Maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0
  5. Maintain satisfactory progress toward the degree both in academics and research

Students accepting GA appointment offers prior to the April 15 acceptance deadline may resign in writing through April 15.  After that date, students are committed to our offer unless formal contract release is obtained from the program.  Incoming first-year students are appointed for one year, conditional upon satisfactory performance and progress.  The program expects that first-year students will find an advisor by the end of Spring semester, at which point their appointment will be transferred to the home Department of their advisor, who will support them for the remainder of their time in the program.  Unsatisfactory performance may result in cancellation of appointment and/or voiding of any future support guarantee.

VI.3  Graduate Research Associates

MCDB students that are not supported by fellowships are supported as Graduate Research Associates (GRAs) while they are conducting laboratory rotations.  After joining a lab, their GRA appointment switches to the home department of their dissertation advisor and is charged to their advisor’s intramural or extramural research funding.  Students are responsible for obtaining information concerning policies that may apply to employees on grant-funded research activities. Graduate Associates are expected to perform their duties in a satisfactory manner.

VI.4  Graduate Teaching Associates

After joining a lab, some students may be supported as Graduate Teaching Associates (GTAs).  These appointments are made by the department or instructional unit in which the teaching is to be performed.  MCDB does not have any available TA opportunities but will assist students in identifying teaching opportunities if this aligns with their career goals.

VI.5  Graduate Administrative Associates

Graduate Administrative Associates have administrative responsibilities within a department or other academic unit.  MCDB does not allow students to be appointed as Graduate Administrative Associates.

VI.6  Fellowships and Supplemental support

Outstanding incoming students are eligible for University Fellowships, which MCDB supplements to match the stipend level of students on GRA appointments.  In order to be eligible for University Fellowships, complete applications must be received by the application deadline. The applicant must request fellowship consideration by checking the appropriate box on the admission application.  Outstanding applicants are nominated by the Graduate Studies Committee.

First-year and more senior students may also be eligible for appointment as Fellows on any of several NIH-funded Training Grants with which the MCDB Program is associated.  Outstanding first year students are nominated by the MCDB Graduate Studies Committee.  Senior students are nominated by their dissertation advisors.

Several other internal fellowships are available to outstanding students (usually post-candidacy).  These include Pelotonia Fellowships sponsored by the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center and RNA Fellowships sponsored by the OSU Center for RNA Biology.

Post-candidacy students nearing the end of their training may be eligible for a Presidential Fellowship, administered by the Graduate School.  Students must be nominated by the MCDB Graduate Studies Committee.

MCDB students are also encouraged to apply for extramural fellowships offered by federal agencies and private foundations.

VI.7  Termination

Students who voluntarily resign their appointment because of unwillingness to perform duties will, in general, void all guarantees of future support and not be considered for reappointment.  Students resigning due to exceptional circumstances such as health or personal problems may be considered for future reappointment in competition with other applicants.

The program may terminate continuing appointments early for the following reasons:

  1. Enrollment for less than the required number of credit hours
  2. Mutual agreement on termination between the GSC and the student
  3. Unacceptable academic performance resulting in the student being placed on academic probation by the Graduate School.  Academic probation voids all guarantees of future support.  Reappointment based on regaining good academic standing is at the discretion of the program director or co-directors.
  4. Lack of progress toward the degree, as mutually agreed upon by the advisor and the program director or co-directors.
  5. Lack of funds or other reasons, at the discretion of the program director or co-directors.

VI.8  Grievance Procedures

Resolution of grievances should be sought initially through discussion with the student’s advisor, the program director or co-directors, and the Graduate Studies Committee.  If such discussions fail to provide a resolution, the grievance procedures established by the Graduate School should be followed.


Rev: December, 2020