1. Teams consisting of a less than a 2:1 ratio of undergraduates to postgraduates will be evaluated as postgraduate teams.
2. Postgraduate teams are eligible for a Postgraduate Grand Prize, Medals, Special Awards, and Track/ Area Awards.
3. Students in the final year of a 5-year combined bachelor's/master's degree who have not yet received their master's degree are considered undergraduates. If they have received a master's degree before the iGEM registration deadline (i.e., March 31), they are considered postgraduates.
What do we mean by mostly undergraduate students?
iGEM is built upon the desire to give teams of mostly undergraduate students a platform to explore synthetic biology and design, implement, learn from, and share biological systems based on standard parts. Undergraduate students are college students enrolled at a college or university. These are students who have not yet received their undergraduate degree when the team registers for iGEM in March. So, a student who is part of an iGEM team in the spring can continue with that team. Also, a common curriculum is the 5-year combined bachelor's/master's degree. In those programs, students may receive their bachelor's degree at the same time as their master's or may receive a Bachelor's degree after 3 or 4 years. We accept those students as undergraduates until they finish their master's degree.
Post Graduate Master's Programs
In recent years, we saw the development of post-graduate master's programs. In those programs, students typically receive their undergraduate (and perhaps master's) degrees. On graduation they take jobs and then come back to school for a master's degree in Synthetic Biology. These students bring wonderful contributions to iGEM and our goal is to allow those students to continue to participate, first as post-graduate masters teams in the iGEM Undergraduate Division and perhaps eventually in a Masters Division.
There is great variety in iGEM teams. They raise significantly different resources to participate, some pay their students stipends, some have charged their students tuition, some teams work for only 10 weeks during the summer, others start much earlier, some schools have established Synthetic Biology courses in their spring terms for their teams, some schools seem to ignore their teams. However, last year, the judges were particularly sensitive to the level of advanced student participation in iGEM. Concerns about allowing multi-year thesis work in an undergraduate summer research competition were raised. They did not know what to do about the post-graduate master's students. For 2012, the judges will try to deal with this issue more carefully. We ask the post-graduate master's teams to identify themselves when they register.