MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences mission and metrics

Mission

The mission of MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston is to maintain an innovative and diverse environment that provides an unprecedented breadth of opportunities for outstanding graduate students to train with leading biomedical scientists at MD Anderson and UTHealth. The combined strengths of these institutions provide students with access to basic and translational scientific programs that are at the cutting edge of the fight to treat all major diseases. The curriculum is designed to provide students with a rigorous exposure to critical thinking strategies, area specific scientific skills, and career development initiatives. The curriculum, together with an emphasis on research training and scientific productivity, is designed to position our students for an outstanding and successful career in the biomedical sciences.

Student Achievement

The GSBS evaluates success with respect to student achievement through a variety of measures including pass rate of candidacy and doctoral defenses, length of time to complete the program of study, certification examinations as applicable, publication of dissertation research, and postdoctoral and job placement. Doctoral program effectiveness data, which support the GSBS mission and mission and vision of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MD Anderson) and The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth), are reported annually to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) [3]. All these evaluations support the GSBS mission: The mission of The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences is “to maintain an innovative and diverse environment that provides an unprecedented breadth of opportunities for outstanding graduate students to train with leading biomedical scientists at MD Anderson and UTHealth. The combined strengths of these institutions provide students with access to basic and translational scientific programs that are at the cutting edge of the fight to treat all major diseases.” The curriculum is designed to provide students with a rigorous exposure to critical thinking strategies, area specific scientific skills, and career development initiatives. The curriculum, together with an emphasis on research training and scientific productivity, is designed to position our students for an outstanding and successful career in the biomedical sciences.

Course Completion - The Academic Standards Committee, the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Program Coordinators, faculty advisors, and advisory/supervisory committees all regularly monitor the progress of individual students enrolled in didactic courses. In addition, the Curriculum Committee reviews all major courses at least every three years. By these indications, the great majority (typically 96 percent or more) of registered students complete didactic courses. Grades of withdraw pass (WP), withdraw fail (WF), incomplete (I) and F are counted towards courses not completed. GSBS is meeting its target course completion rate of 90 percent. The target was set at 90 percent because our data shows we have a high course completion rate. Should any course completion rate drop below a threshold of 85 percent, corrective action would be taken. See Table 8.1.r below for course completion data by degree program.

                                        Course Completion by Degree Program
                              Academic Years 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-2019
       Target – 90 percent of courses completed – target met for all degree programs.

   Ph.D. Program

course_completion_phd

   M.S. in Biomedical Sciences

course_completion_MS

   M.S. in Genetic Counseling

course_completion_MS_genetic_counseling

     M.S. in Medical Physics

course_completion_MS_Medical_physics

Candidacy Exams - The first­-try candidacy examination pass rate for 257 Ph.D. candidacy exams taken over the past five years include 162 unconditional passes, 87 conditional passes, 8 re­examinations, and 0 failures (failures would have resulted in terminal Master of Science (M.S.) degrees). See Table 8.1.s below. These results indicate that a large proportion of GSBS students who attempt the exam achieve Ph.D. Candidacy. GSBS is meeting its first­-try candidacy examination pass rate of 80 percent. The target was set at 80 percent because our data shows we have a high first-­try candidacy examination pass rate. Should any first-­try candidacy examination pass rate drop below a threshold of 75 percent, corrective action would be taken.

                                         Initial Ph.D. Candidacy Examination Results
                                                           1/1/2014 – 12/31/2018
  Target – 80 percent of students receive an initial result of unconditional/conditional pass
                                    on Ph.D. candidacy exam – Target met

initial_phd_candidacy_results

Time to Degree - As another indicator of the successful progress of graduate students through their program of study, GSBS monitors the length of time to complete the doctoral degree. The mean length of time for all students, 2007­2015, to receive the Ph.D. was 5 years, which was below the national norm for all graduates of programs in the biological sciences (5.5 – 7 years per the NIH Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group Report in 2012). Tables below (8.1.g, j, m and p) summarize length of time to completion for the Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Sciences, specialized M.S. Program in Genetic Counseling, specialized M.S. Program in Medical Physics and M.S. Program in Biomedical Sciences. GSBS is meeting it’s time to degree targets for all Programs. These targets were set because our data shows most PhD students complete their degree in less than 6 years, SMS Genetic Counseling students in less than 2 years and SMS Medical Physics and MS Biomedical Sciences in less than 3 years. Should any yearly time to degree average raise above a 6 year threshold (for PhD), a 2 year threshold (for SMS Genetic Counseling) or a 3 year threshold (for SMS Medical Physics and MS Biomedical Sciences), corrective action would be taken.

Graduation Rates by Gender - The GSBS graduation rates for all Programs by gender can be found in Table 8.1h, k, n and q. Female and male graduation target rates are set at 70%, with a threshold of below 70 percent set for corrective action. All GSBS Programs met these target rates except for the SMS Medical Physics Program in 2016 (female graduation rate of 50%) and the MS in Biomedical Sciences Program in 2010, 2013 and 2014 (male graduation rates of 50%, 67% and 67%, respectively). Due to these Programs’ small student numbers, one or two students leaving the program results in dropping below graduation rate thresholds. Efforts have been and will continue to be made to advise and provide support for all students entering all GSBS Programs to increase retention/graduation rates. Given the lack of a trend over time, GSBS will continue to monitor the graduation rates by race and ethnicity.

Graduation Rates by Race and Ethnicity - The GSBS graduation rates by race/ethnicity can be found in Table 8.1i, l, o and r.  All reported race and ethnicity graduation target rates are set at 70%, with a threshold of below 70 percent set for corrective action. The SMS Genetic Counseling Program met this target rate for all years reported. The PhD, SMS Medical Physics and MS Biomedical Science Programs did not meet this target rate for every race/ethnicity reported in select years. Due to the very small student numbers of some categories of race/ethnicity, one or two students leaving the school resulted in dropping below the graduation rate threshold. GSBS has recently hired (2019) a new Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion to oversee and develop resources for under-represented student populations as well as all of our students. Given the lack of a trend over time, GSBS will continue to monitor the graduation rates by race and ethnicity.

                                      Length of Time to Completion (In Years)
                                              Ph.D. Student Cohort Outcomes
                                                                   2007 - 2016
                                                Data Analyzed as of August 2019
                                Target – Time to Degree of <6 years – Target Met

Table_completion_time

                                                          Graduate Rate by Gender
                                                    Ph.D. Student Cohort Outcomes
                                                                   2007 - 2011
                                                    Data Analyzed as of August 2019
                                           Target – PhD graduation rate of 70% – Target Met

graduate_rate_by_gender

                                                      Graduate Rate by Race
                                             Ph.D. Student Cohort Outcomes
                                                               2007 - 2011
                                            Data Analyzed as of August 2019
                               Target – Graduate rate of 70% – Target Not Met

graduate_rate_by_race

                                                       Length of Time to Completion
                                               Specialized Master’s in Genetic Counseling
                                                  Student Cohort Outcomes 2010 - 2016
                                                        Data Analyzed as of August 2019
                                          Target – Time to Degree of <2 years – Target met

course_completion_specialisedMS_genetic_counseling

                                                                Graduate Rate by Gender
                                                    Specialized Master’s in Genetic Counseling
                                                        Student Cohort Outcomes 2010 - 2016
                                                              Data Analyzed as of August 2019
                                     Target – SMS Genetic Counseling graduation rate of 70% – Target Met

graduate_rate_by_gender_specialisedMS_genetic_counseling

                                                                 Graduate Rate by Race
                                                   Specialized Master’s in Genetic Counseling
                                                       Student Cohort Outcomes 2010 - 2016
                                                          Data Analyzed as of August 2019
                                                   Target – Graduate rate of 70% – Target Met

graduate_rate_by_race_specialisedMS_genetic_counseling

                                                      Length of Time to Completion
                                               Specialized Master’s in Medical Physics
                                                Student Cohort Outcomes 2010 - 2016
                                                      Data Analyzed as of August 2019
                                          Target – Time to Degree of <3 years – Target met

course_completion_specialisedMS_Medical_physics

                                                         Graduate Rate by Gender
                                               Specialized Master’s in Medical Physics
                                                Student Cohort Outcomes 2010 - 2016
                                                     Data Analyzed as of August 2019
                         Target – SMS Medical Physics graduation rate of 70% – Target Not Met

graduate_rate_by_gender_specialisedMS_Medical_physics

                                                             Graduate Rate by Race
                                                 Specialized Master’s in Medical Physics
                                                   Student Cohort Outcomes 2010 - 2016
                                                        Data Analyzed as of August 2019
                                          Target – Graduate rate of 70% – Target Not Met

graduate_rate_by_race_specialisedMS_Medical_physics

                                                      Length of Time to Completion
                                             Master’s Degree in Biomedical Sciences
                                                Student Cohort Outcomes 2010 - 2016
                                                   Data Analyzed as of August 2019
                                      Target – Time to Degree of <3 years – Target met

course_completion_MS_Biomeidcal_sciences

                                                              Graduate Rate by Gender
                                                   Master’s Degree in Biomedical Sciences
                                                     Student Cohort Outcomes 2010 - 2016
                                                         Data Analyzed as of August 2019
                               Target – MS Biomedical Sciences graduation rate of 70% – Target Not Met

graduate_rate_by_gender_Biomeidcal_sciences

                                                             Graduate Rate by Race
                                                Master’s Degree in Biomedical Sciences
                                                  Student Cohort Outcomes 2010 - 2016
                                                      Data Analyzed as of August 2019
                                         Target – Graduate rate of 70% – Target Not Met

graduate_rate_by_race_Biomeidcal_sciences

Certification Examination - The vast majority of GSBS graduates receive the M.S. or Ph.D. degree in one of the traditional biomedical areas, and thus do not sit for any type of licensing examinations. Graduates of the M.S. Program in Genetic Counseling take a board exam to obtain certification from the American Board of Genetic Counseling. The overall pass rate of GSBS graduates is 100 percent which is higher than the national average of 82 percent. GSBS is meeting its board exam pass rate for genetic counseling of 85 percent. The target was set at 85 percent because our data shows we have a high board exam pass rate for genetic counseling. Should any board exam pass rate for genetic counseling drop below a threshold of 82 percent, corrective action would be taken.

     Graduates of the Specialized M.S. in Genetic Counseling
     Performance on the American Board of Genetic Counseling Certification Exam (2013-2018)
     Target – 85 percent Pass Rate – Target met for years 2013-2018

genetic_counseling_cerification_exam

Since Medical Physicists do not have to be licensed in all states, pass rates on certification exams are not used as a metric of student achievement. Instead, the Graduate School tracks employment data for graduates who receive an M.S. in Medical Physics. The M.S. target rate for employment in Medical Physics is set at 100 percent, with a threshold of 80 percent set for corrective action.

                               Graduates of the Specialized M.S. in Medical Physics
                                          Employment within 1 year of Graduation
        Target – 100 percent of graduates employed within 1 year of graduation within the
                   field or continuing with graduated studies within the field – target met. 

employment_Medical_physics

Job Placement Rates - As is typical of Level I research institutions, many GSBS Ph.D. graduates do postdoctoral research as the next step in their career, and with the rarest of exceptions, all doctoral graduates are able to find postdoctoral positions, many in prestigious institutions around the country and world. In the 2017 Alumni Survey [1] (224 alumni responding, graduating between years 2006-2017), it was found that 97.8 percent of alumni responding were employed. The 2017 alumni survey indicated overwhelmingly that GSBS graduates feel the school's programs prepared them well for their chosen careers. 83.9 percent of alumni responding indicated that their education at GSBS was either “very effective” or “effective” in preparing them for their first position after graduation.

It is mandatory that graduating students complete an exit survey that includes questions about how well they feel their coursework and research training have prepared them for their chosen careers. The overwhelming majority “agrees" or "agrees strongly" that GSBS course work and training has successfully prepared them for their chosen careers. GSBS also has an active Alumni Association that receives continual communications from the school and provides valuable feedback that is continually positive regarding course work quality, training received, and preparation for careers.

Student Publications and Presentations and Awards - Each year, the GSBS reports to the THECB, the average number of publications/presentations for all Ph.D. students in a calendar year. Overall, the average number of publications/presentations for all GSBS students was 1.4 in 2016, 1.8 in 2017 and 2.7 in 2018. This indicates students are highly successful at publishing their graduate research and meets the target established by the GSBS of at least one student publication. The 2017 Alumni Survey found that 89.6 percent of respondents have either authored or co-authored refereed original research articles. During their career, 30 percent of respondents received an award from their institution or employer, 13 percent received an award from a professional society and 6 percent received an award from a community organization. 9 percent have been issued patents on a science or technology-related discovery.