Information, Guidelines, and Expectations of Students in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Program (PSGP)

The purpose of this communication is to provide information, guidelines and outline expectations for new students in the PSGP.  More detailed and additional information can be found in the following resources:

  1. Procedures Governing the Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Program.
  2. A Bulletin of the University of Nebraska Medical Center Graduate Studies. 
  3. Website of Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Program.

During the first Year

  1. Within a week or so of your arrival, each new student will be assigned an Interim Advisor in the scientific field of your interest.
  2. The Interim advisor will assist each new student select appropriate courses for the first and second semesters.
  3. During the first few weeks in the PSGP, each new student must visit with at least five PSGP faculty members to discuss their research.  A form must be obtained from the PSGP administrator and each student must obtain the signatures of the five or more faculty with whom they discussed research.  This completed form must be returned to the PSGP administrator to be filed in the student’s PSGP file.
  4. Each student who has a teaching assistantship (TA) must complete at least two laboratory rotations with two faculty members of their choice.  Students funded by a research assistantship (RA) during their first year may complete a laboratory rotation with the approval of the faculty member providing the R.A.
  5. Security clearance for access in to the college after hours must be arranged through the PSGP administrator. Your I.D. badge will be used to gain access to the building after hours and on weekends.
  6. Each student will obtain their own number to access the college’s photocopy machine for appropriate use.  The number of copies made by all students is monitored.  
  7. Each student must have identified their Ph.D. or M.S. degree research advisor by the end of their first year in the program.
  8. All students must attend the weekly PSGP seminar and other departmental seminars.  
  9. Graduate office guidelines state “Students may expect, on average, to be allowed 14 days of personal vacation in a given year.”  Students desiring longer break periods should expect to use the allowance accumulated over more than one year.  For extended absences, e.g., visit to country of origin, a student must have the permission of the PSGP Chair in addition to his/her advisor. Further, the student must inform the PSGP administrator of the duration of the extended absence. These extended absences should be scheduled so course work is not compromised.  A leave slip should be filled and submitted to the PSGP administrator for all leaves of absence.
  10. Absence for 3 days, without communication to your advisor or department administrator, is grounds for termination.

Advisory Committee

  1. After the student has identified a research advisor, their advisory (MS) or supervisory (Ph.D.) committee should be formed.
  2. A Ph.D. supervisory committee must consist of at least four members of the University of Nebraska Graduate Faculty.
  3. An M.S. Advisory committee must consist of a minimum of three Graduate Faculty members.
  4. Advisory/supervisory committees are required to meet twice a year.
  5. Minutes of all committee meeting must be sent to the Graduate Office, all committee members and a copy placed in the student’s PSGP file.

Course work

  1. Your program of study must be approved by your advisory/supervisory committee. 
  2. Students are expected to perform at 'B' level or above.  More information regarding scholarship requirements and grading scale can be found in the UNMC Graduate Studies Bulletin on the intranet.
  3. Full-time students are expected to register for a minimum of 9 credit hours (but not more than 12 credit hours) for the fall and spring semester.
  4. Students should register for a minimum of 3 and 5 credit hours for the 5 and 8 week summer sessions, respectively.
  5. All full-time and part-time students in the PSGP must register for the PSGP seminar each semester for the duration of their graduate studies. 
  6. All PSGP students must register for either the “physical” or “biological” journal club each semester (PHSC 960 Current topics in the pharmaceutical sciences).
  7. Prior to completing your comprehensive examination, students should register for laboratory research as PHSC 896, Special Problems in the Pharmaceutical Sciences.  After the successful completion of your comprehensive examination, the appropriate number of credits hours for their research should be listed as either PHSC 899 Master’s thesis, or PHSC 999, Doctoral dissertation.
  8. Some Graduate Fellowships do not cover tuition fees during summer.  Students must be aware that they, not the department, are responsible for these fees.

PSGP and other Seminars

  1. A bi-weekly PSGP seminar is held during the fall and spring semesters (PHSC 970) Seminar in the Pharmaceutical Sciences.  Attendance by all full- or part-time students in the PSGP is mandatory.  Attendance is also required at final defense seminars and seminars by faculty candidates and other invited speakers.
  2. Any absence from a PSGP seminar must be explained to the faculty member coordinating the seminar ahead of time.
  3. After their first year, all students will be required to present at least three seminars, one of which should be outside the student’s research area.
  4. Once a date is established, students are not allowed to cancel their seminar unless there is a medical emergency involving the student. 
  5. Abstracts for your seminar are due to PSGP administrator no later than Wednesday, eight days prior to your seminar date.

Laboratory Safety and Etiquette

  1. Students must not undertake any laboratory work until they have read the UNMC Safety Manual and are prepared to conform to the required standards and requirements.  
  2. Students are reminded that the most common breaches of laboratory safety include the following: 1) not wearing appropriate clothing e.g., shorts & open foot wear are not allowed, 2) not wearing laboratory coats and/or safety glasses, 3) consuming food and drink, 4) storing food and drink in laboratory refrigerators, 5) incorrectly packaging and storing bio-hazardous material for disposal, 6) incorrectly disposing of broken glass, 7) discarding disposable pipettes in plastic trash containers, and 8) inadequately labeling chemicals and solutions that are on the bench or stored in refrigerators.
  3. Students must know the location of the safety shower and fire extinguisher in each laboratory they work.
  4. Report all safety concerns to your advisor, the Chair of the College of Pharmacy’s Safety Committee, and/or Chair of the department.
  5. Students should know who is Chairperson of the COP Safety Committee.  Currently it is Dr. Sorin Luca.
  6. Scientific equipment is expensive.  Do not use any equipment until you have been appropriately trained to use it correctly. 
  7. Leave all equipment in the condition that you found it, or better.  Accidents happen and equipment fails from time to time.  Immediately report any equipment failure, breakage, or substandard performance to your advisor. 
  8. Record the use of the equipment in the log book.
  9. Do not use or remove chemical, solvents or equipment from any other laboratory without the appropriate faculty member’s permission.
  10. The first PSGP seminar in fall is a safety seminar.  Attendance is mandatory and all students must sign the form stating they are familiar with the safety regulations in the college.  This signed form is to be maintained in the safety file.
  11. The College now uses the UNMC safety manual, which can be accessed on line at:

Funding of Graduate Studies

  1. A Teaching Assistantship (T.A.) is awarded to a first year student for one year only.  It is possible, but should not be expected, that the T.A. may be renewed for a second year.
  2. It is expected that all students will annually apply for a UNMC graduate assistantship (G.A.).  The deadline is usually about February 15th each year.
  3. Students are responsible for applying for a tuition waiver when necessary.
  4. All students should be aware of a list of external state, national, and international sources of funding for graduate students (see the PSGP secretary).
    After discussion and with the support of their advisor, students are expected to identify, and apply for, funding from these additional external sources.
  5. Students are rewarded with an additional 20 % of a GA if they successfully obtain funding external to the university and have been awarded a UNMC.
  6. Students are reminded that they can not have a paid position outside the university without the approval of his/her advisor and the approval of the funding agency.
  7. A URL for sources of extramural support for graduate students is

Comprehensive examination

Students are expected to take their comprehensive (admission to candidacy) examination immediately after completing the course requirements i.e., typically at the end of their second year in the program.

Interactions with the PSGP Administrator

Administrators are busy.  Do not expect telephone orders for overnight delivery.  Plan your research in advance.

  1. Stationery supplies in the department are for faculty use only.  If you need access to anything in the administrators area, ask their permission.
  2. If you need a document printed using the color printer, ask the administrator to identify a time that will be convenient for them or email them the item for printing at their convenience.