Qualifying Exams

Before the end of fall quarter of the second year, each student should write and defend a thesis research proposal. Before the end of fall quarter of the third year, each student will present their research progress toward their thesis, and productivity and progress will be assessed. After successfully completing both parts of the exam, students will advance to candidacy.

The first part of the qualifying examination consists of a written thesis research proposal and an oral exam. Research proposals follow modified guidelines for an NIH pre-doctoral fellowship application. The oral exam consists of a presentation of the research proposal to the exam committee and a discussion in response to questions from the committee. The student typically prepares a 45-minute slide presentation of the thesis proposal. The entire exam normally lasts about two hours.

Once the qualifying exam has been successfully completed and The Graduate School has been notified, the student's candidacy for the Ph.D. degree will be formalized.

After a student has passed the qualifying examination in the fall quarter of year 3, the thesis committee will meet with the student annually until the student graduates. The meetings provide an opportunity for students to discuss their work with scientists from outside the student’s laboratories. They serve to assess the student’s progress towards the Ph.D. degree, but are not intended to be examinations.

For complete details, see the Program Guide.