Handbook Cheat Sheet

Handbook Bullet Points

All GGEB forms (registration, rotation proposal, committee approval, etc.) can be found on the Forms page of the GGEB website's Resources section.

Lab Rotations

  • 3-5 Rotations over the course of five semesters
    • Rotation proposals should be developed with rotation advisor and submitted to program chair and admin coordinator
    • Students expected to commit 20hrs/wk during fall/spring rotations, 40hrs/wk during summer rotations
    • Available rotation projects will be sent out via email/presented virtually on in-person to assist students with selecting their advisor
    • End-of-rotation chalk talks should be attended by the rotation advisor. 

Dissertation Advisor and Committee

  • To formally declare a dissertation advisor, a student must first confirm that the faculty member is willing and able to advise them

    • After confirmation, the student emails the Graduate Group chair and the program chair for approval (cc the program coordinator and advisor)

    • After approval, the dissertation advisor will also assume the duties  - course registration, for example - previously held by the academic advisor

    • After approval, the student will move from lab rotations to pre-dissertation research

  • Dissertation committees are formed and approved before the candidacy exam
    • The dissertation advisor and chair must be standing members of the graduate group faculty
    • At least 50% of the committee must be comprised of graduate group faculty
  • Committee approval is granted by the Graduate Group Chair and Program Chair.
    • Please submit the names of your committee members, and their roles,to them and the graduate group administrator. CC your committee, and once approved, the graduate group admin will submit your committee electronically through Penn's new system. 
     Committee Meetings
  • Scheduled by advisor and chair every six months after passing the qualifying exam 
    • Let admin coordinator know ahead of time so they can provide the chair with the necessary forms
    • Students should provide chair with material for review, usually two weeks prior to meeting
    • The committee will grant permission to write during your last committee meeting


  • Submitted to committee within six months of receiving permission to write
    • If advisor believes candidate is close to completing their research and draft can be submitted to the committee, the defense can be scheduled
      • A full copy of the dissertation must be submitted to the committee four weeks before the defense
      • Two manuscripts must be submitted for review by the time of the defense
        • Plans to submit a third manuscript within sixty days of defense must be in place
  • Typical Structure of a Five Chapter Dissertation:
    • Introduction and literature review (similar to the dissertation proposal)
    • Three chapters (two of which are expected to be methodological in nature) covering the primary research topics
    • Conclusion and possible future research directions
  • Graduation Calendar 
  • Formatting Guidelines, Templates, and More

Teaching Assistants

  • Biostatistics PhD students are required to to TA twice, but can TA up to three times total.
    • The first appointment will be unpaid; subsequent appointments will be paid.
    • Students are given their assignments by program leadership
  • Epi students are only required to TA once
    • This appointment is unpaid, but students may choose to TA again for compensation
  • Once students receive their assignment, they will meet with the instructor to discuss the TA's responsibilities (hold office hours, assist with or teach lab sessions, grading, etc). 


  • No large language model (LLM)-driven chatbots, including ChatGPT, will be accepted as a credited author in your work. All cited author attributions included in your answers must demonstrate accountability for the work, and LLM tools cannot take such responsibility.
    • As a result, you are not allowed to copy (in part or in whole) or cite (in part or in whole) any result from a query posed to a LLM application. In some cases, an instructor may approve the use of LLMs for specific tasks. Use without prior approval from the course director or dissertation advisor is not allowed.