Life After Acceptance into an FNR Graduate Program

You’ve been accepted and have enrolled; what next?


For more details, please see the following Graduate School Links:

Advisory Committee (AC): 

In conjunction with your major advisor, you need to select an Advisory Committee within the first semester of enrollment. This committee governs, as representatives of the faculty, all aspects of your graduate program. A majority of the committee must be regular tenured/tenure-track Clemson faculty or members of the USGS South Carolina Cooperative Research Unit. Others (part-time, lecturers, etc) may serve and have voting rights. If a committee member is not a Clemson University employee, that person must be an adjunct faculty member in FNR or another Clemson department; as long as the other requirements of the committee are met, an adjunct may serve as the outside member of the committee. Both the major advisor and at least half the committee must hold rank in FNR.  Lists of full-time tenure-track faculty, with their areas of expertise, who serve as major advisors and adjunct faculty may be found at

  • FR and MS (both FR and WFB) – the AC consists of a minimum of three faculty members; for MS committees, one may be from outside FNR.

  • PhD (both FR and WFB) – the AC consists of a minimum of four faculty members, one of whom must be, and up to two (or not more than ½ of the committee) of whom may be, from outside the department. 

The GS-2 Graduate Curriculum Form: 

This form is filed with the Graduate School within the first two semesters (MS) or first two years (Ph.D.) of your program.  It lays out the courses you will be required to complete and it is signed by your AC and the Department Chair before being sent to the Graduate School.  Any subsequent changes in the GS-2 (courses or committee members) must be approved by your AC, the Department Chair, and the Graduate School. If you fail to submit this on time, a LATE FEE OF $25 -$125 IS ASSESSED!

Minimum Enrollment:

For all students on assistantship, minimum enrollment is 9 hours per semester during the academic year and 3 hours per summer school term. If 3 hours are taken during Maymester, they can substitute for the first summer session but not the second.  The program's minimum enrollment for students not on assistantship is 12 hours per semester during the academic year for full-time status.  Graduate students who are Clemson employees should refer to the section entitled, Employees Enrolled in Graduate Degree Programs for work-graduate program.

By university policy, full time status is defined as being enrolled in 9 credit hours in fall and spring and 3 credit hours in each summer session.

Mandatory Training for New Students:

(Documentation of completion of the training must be submitted to the graduate coordinator through Deanna Burns)

Academic Requirements:

The program requirements for MFR, MS, and Ph.D. degrees are found in the respective checklists located in the section entitled "Academic Checklists".  An overview of the requirements is presented in the following two tables:

  • Time Requirements: The MFR and MS degrees must be completed within a 6-year time period.  The Ph.D. degree must be completed within 5 years of satisfactory completion of the preliminary examination.

  • Thesis/Dissertation Guidelines

            The purpose of a thesis or dissertation is to demonstrate your ability to:

  • Formulate a research problem

  • Demonstrate knowledge relevant to a meaningful resolution of a specific problem or question

  • Effectively plan the work leading to the completion of the problem

  • Analyze and interpret data

  • Report the results of your research in a concise, precise professional manner

General Guidelines:

  • Must be prepared in accordance with guidelines established by the Graduate School (
  • A Word document template is located within this site under Format.

  • Refer to the list of deadlines at to ensure timely completion of all requirements for your degree.

  • The thesis or dissertation should be completed and submitted before you leave the University; it is very difficult to complete if you take a job and leave without finishing.

  • You should complete a prospectus or research plan early in your graduate program because it is on this that you will base your research and thesis/dissertation.  Particularly for doctoral proposals, a public presentation to the Department is important to gain maximum input on content and design before you start field or laboratory work.  It also helps you get over being nervous presenting.

  • Keeping your Advisory Committee apprised of your progress is important durng your graduate program.  You will defend your thesis or dissertation in a formal setting as determined by Departmental guidelines and your Major Advisor.

  • Following the successful defense and after making any corrections required by your Advisory Committee and Major Advisor, you submit your thesis or dissertation to the Graduate School for formatting review.  The Mauscript Review Office must approve your final electronic version before you are allowed to graduate.

  • Electronic submission is the only option; hard copies are not acceptable.

  • For FNR (Departmental copy), Deanna Burns sends all theses/dissertations to the binder in June for the year.  She will also order any copies you wish to have personally or for your Major Advisor, Advisory Committee, family or friends.  The cost is $17.50/copy; the Department pays for the official Departmental copy and students reimburse the Department for any other copies ordered.

  • Any inventions, discoveries, developments, whether or ot patentable, which are conceived, developed, or reduced to practice by graduate students suring the course of their research activities are retained by Clemson University as set forth in the Faculty Manual.

  • The student retains copyright ownership of the thesis/dissertation; however, FNR maintains the right to publish research, which is subject to University policy and organizations responsible for publishing or distributing copyrighted materials (i.e., scientific journals).

  • Any data, research notebooks and related materials (slides, pictures, graphs, publication reprints, etc) are the property of Clemson University and will remain in the Department after the student’s graduation and departure.  It is generally acceptable to take copies with you but the originals must remain with your Major Advisor.

  • Examinations – for each of these exams, a departmental Assessment Report must be completed and turned in to Deanna Burns, 171 P&A.

  • MS, MFR

    The final oral exam occurs during the defense of thesis (MS) or project (MFR).  It includes general knowledge in subject matter as well as the thesis or project.  The thesis or project report should be submitted to the Major Advisor at least 3 weeks prior to submitting to the Advisory Committee, which must have it 2 weeks prior to the defense.

  • Ph.D. – WFB

    Comprehensive Exam - The comprehensive examination (written and oral) is scheduled near the end of the student’s course work.  This is a subject matter examination and must be taken at least 6 months but no longer than 5 years before graduation.  Successful completion of this examination admits the student to candidacy.

    Final Defense of Dissertation - The final defense of dissertation includes a presentation open to the public and a closed oral examination over the rationale, methodology, results and conclusions of the dissertation research.  Subject matter (general knowledge) is not covered in this examination.

  • Ph.D. - FR

    Preliminary Exam
    - For the Ph.D. degree in Forest Resources, a preliminary examination will be used to determine the student's scholarly development and ability to develop logical thought and implement concepts.  The examination will be given at or near the completion of the student's course work. Satisfactory completion of the preliminary exam must occur no less than six months and no more than five years prior to the date of graduation.  The examination will consist of two parts:  written and oral.  The written part will consist of (a) one proposition whose purpose is to test the student's ability to integrate knowledge over a particular topic and (b) a number of additional written questions to test the student's comprehensive knowledge.  Written questions may be submitted by departmental faculty to the committee for possible inclusion in the examination.  The student will be expected to exercise originality in addressing the issues implied by the proposition assignment and exhibit a level of literary skill commensurate with the degree being sought.  The proposition should be viewed as a formal argument to test the student's ability to reason.  Statements should be concise, but comprehensive enough to develop a clear path of logic.  The student will have four weeks to answer the proposition and questions and return them to the committee.  The committee should determine within one week if the response to the proposition warrants proceeding with the oral examination or if the proposition must be re-submitted to the student.  The proposition and answers to all written questions will be available to interested faculty prior to the oral exam.  All departmental faculty are encouraged to attend the oral examination.  The oral examination should be given within a two-week period following the committee's response.  The entire procedure from giving the proposition and questions to completing the oral examination should take no more than seven to eight weeks.

    In the preliminary oral examination, the committee will have the freedom to take issue with the written proposition and the written questions, as well as to test the student's comprehensive knowledge of major and minor disciplines of study.  Committee members must be familiar with the content of the proposition and other written questions prior to the examination.  At the time of the examination, they must be prepared to question the student on the written material as well as on subject matter in their areas of expertise.

    Final Defense of Dissertation -
    The final defense of dissertation includes a presentation open to the public and a closed oral examination over the rationale, methodology, results and conclusions of the dissertation research.  Subject matter (general knowledge) is not covered in this examination.