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Preliminary Exam

  1. The Doctor of Philosophy student gains admission to candidacy by passing a comprehensive preliminary examination.

    • The preliminary examination consists of a written and an oral part and covers the candidate's entire program of study.

    • The examining committee is the student's graduate committee with the adviser serving as chair.

    • The preliminary exam should be given no later than the end of the third year, but administration by the end of the second year is encouraged. The intent to hold a Ph.D. preliminary examination is to be formally declared in advance. It is the responsibility of the student to inform the department's Academic Support Coodina​tor for Graduate Studies​, who assists the Associate Department Head for Graduate Studies at least three (3) weeks in advance of the examination date.

    • The written portion of the preliminary exam as well as the oral exam are designed to emphasize critical thinking, analysis, and the ability to test scientific hypotheses, and not for the exclusive testing of factual information.

    • The written part of the examination must be independently prepared by the student and either be in the form of a research proposal, whose subject may be defined by the student or committee, or in the form of answers to written questions submitted by committee members.

    • If the proposal option is chosen, the student will have two weeks to complete the written portion and if the question format is chosen, the student will have one week for preparation of written answers.

    • The written part of the preliminary examination must be completed at least one week before the oral examination is administered.

    • The oral examination covers material from the written exam, as well as the three core areas selected by the student for his or her program of study.

    • An affirmative vote of the majority of the committee members is required for the student to pass the preliminary examination. It is the student's responsibility to obtain GS Form 16 from the Graduate School website prior to the examination and to return the completed form to the Graduate School after the relevant signatures have been obtained.

    • A student who fails the preliminary examination may be reexamined once, providing the committee approves, and may be required to carry out further work before being reexamined. The reexamination must be held no earlier than 2 months nor later than 12 months after the first examination.

    • Failure to pass the second examination will automatically terminate the student's participation in the graduate program.

  2. Students in the combined degree program must have completed prelims by the end of their 3rd year. 

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