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Examinations

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The Ph.D. degree requires the successful completion of three examinations: The Qualifying Examination (Q-Exam), the Admission to Candidacy Examination (A-Exam) and the Defense of Dissertation Examination (B-Exam).

Q-Exam:

The purpose of the Qualifying Exam (Q-Exam) is to gauge the candidate’s potential as a doctoral student. The scope of topics should not be so broad as to influence the selection of courses taken by the candidate prior to the exam. A thorough understanding of relevant undergraduate courses and graduate courses already taken should be sufficient to pass the examination. 

Students entering with master’s degrees take the Q-Exam at the end of their first semester; students entering with a bachelor’s degree take the Q-Exam at the end of their second semester.

A-Exam:

The purpose of the Admission to Candidacy Exam (A-Exam is) to determine whether the candidate has attained mastery of the major and minor subjects. In addition, a review may be conducted of the progress of the research and of the plans to complete the dissertation.

Conducted by the student’s special committee, this examination is expected to be taken before the seventh semester of residence and must be taken at least two semesters before the Defense of Dissertation Examination (B-Exam). All members of the student’s special committee are expected to participate in the exam.  

At least seven calendar days before the date of the exam, a Schedule of Examination form, signed by each member of the special committee and the director of graduate studies, must be submitted to the Graduate School and an announcement of the exam made to the field faculty. Within three days after the exam, a Results of Examination form, recording the outcome of the exam and signed by each member of the special committee and the director of graduate studies and graduate field administrator, must be submitted to the Graduate School.

B-Exam:

The Defense of Dissertation Examination (B-Exam) comprises a public presentation of the student’s dissertation followed by an oral exam by the student’s special committee. All members of the student’s special committee are expected to participate in the examination. All members of the field are encouraged to attend and participate in the public portion of students’ B-Exams.

At least seven calendar days before the date of the exam, a Schedule of Examination form, signed by each member of the special committee, the director of graduate studies, and the graduate field administrator, must be submitted to the Graduate School and an announcement of the exam made to the field faculty. Within three days after the exam, a Results of Examination form, signed by each member of the special committee, the DGS, and the GFA, recording the outcome of the exam, must be submitted to the Graduate School.