The Panama College of Cell Science offers the world’s only online PhD degree in stem cell biology, what is now becoming the “New Medicine”. It is an exciting new field, and quite possibly the hottest field in biology today.
So, how does the dissertation requirement work?
A dissertation, also known as a thesis, is a requirement for graduation.
Naturally, with students from all over the world and no laboratory facility, most dissertations at the Panama College of Cell Science are “review papers” in which some aspect of stem cell biology research is pulled together and discussed with a view toward suggesting what future additional experiments might be useful, or pointing to a useful future direction. In this way, a graduate student demonstrates the ability to synthesize concepts from known data.
Time: We allocate only 1 year for completion of your dissertation. But you can take longer if you want. We do not believe that students should be in “dissertation purgatory”, or have a difficult time. The only purpose of the dissertation requirement is for the student to show a command for stem cell biology and to demonstrate some independent thought. And, if you made it this far in our program, you can already do both.
Guidance: We give you active guidance throughout and suggestions for topics. All projects are pre-approved after discussion. That way, all you have to do is to complete the project following a pre-approved game plan. This avoids those many situations elsewhere where, after maybe 3 or more years of work, your dissertation is not accepted by the “dissertation committee”.
Lab based Projects: Some students with access to labs or laboratory equipment at their work, university, or friend’s lab, are able to construct simple experiments and complete lab benched studies by purchasing stem cell test kits and other materials. Their research papers are therefore not reviews but actual reports of experiments. However, a lab based project is not a requirement, but rather up to the student based upon his/her circumstances.
Dissertation Instructions: We do not have any. Unlike most other institutions, we do not give you 50-100 pages of instructions defining what font to use, what size font, how big the margins should be and so forth. Rather, we expect you to be familiar with the format and style of one of more biomedical journals, including reference citation style. After all, it is hoped that your work will be accepted by a peer reviewed journal, so, best to try to align your work with acceptable journal styles.
Dissertation Length: No particular length is required. Of course, a scholarly work befitting a graduate student is necessary. Junk will not be approved nor accepted. But our position is that if Einstein could write the theory of relativity on a napkin, it is the essence of the work and not its length that is the important consideration. Moreover, we expect every dissertation to be published. Almost every biomedical journal has length restrictions and no journal we know of is going to publish 100-200 pages of work. That is why in many cases, a 20 page report, accepted by a peer reviewed journal, is the goal. Most of our students do a more lengthy work, and then cut it down to 20 page summary form, for purposes of publication.
Publication: All dissertations are required to be published. We are not interested in dissertations that no one ever sees or reads. We do not have a basement to store a bunch of worthless works that a student may have spent years to generate. But don’t worry. We are with you 100%. We will suggest possible publication outlets. We know how to get things published, and your work will be published as well. You will have a published work to show any employer or educational institution.
So, don’t be afraid or intimidated in any way by our dissertation requirement. We want you to succeed and make us look good too!!!