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Ph.D. Candidacy Exam


Students who matriculated in the Fall 2008 term or thereafter must petition for Ph.D. candidacy by the end of the second year following matriculation.

Ph.D. students who matriculated on or after the Fall term of 2008 must take a candidacy exam in the "off-topic" format.  Off topic means that the written proposal must be on a topic different from the student's proposed dissertation project, different from any project pursued by the student in a tutorial rotation, different from the student's M.S. thesis (if applicable), different from any project ongoing in the laboratory of the student's advisor, and not a project that differs in a trivial manner from any of the above (that is, different animal model, different gene, etc.).

Prior to the final Advisory Committee meeting, the student forwards to the Advisory Committee members an abstract of the student's proposed dissertation project and the three off-topic abstracts.  These abstracts should be no more than one page in length, and contain the background, hypothesis and specific aims of the project.  At the last Advisory Committee meeting, the Committee is responsible for approving the petition for candidacy, including the approval of the three off-topic abstracts.    

When the student is notified by the Office of Academic Affairs of the approval of the Candidacy Exam petition, the student contacts the Examining Committee to schedule the exam at least six weeks into the future, but no later than the end of the first term of the third year of study.  Once the exam is scheduled, the Examining Committee decides which of the three off-topic abstracts will form the basis of the candidacy exam proposal, and provides this information to the student. The student then has four weeks to complete the proposal and forward it to the Examining Committee.  The Examining Committee then has two weeks to review the proposal prior to the examination. 


The Ph.D. oral candidacy Examining Committee consists of five members, with at least two who have not served on the student's Advisory Committee. The Advisor (Chair of the student Advisory Committee) may not serve in any capacity on the Examining Committee, and is not permitted in the exam room. At least one member must have research interests which lie outside the student's major discipline. In addition, all of the members may not come from the same department or the same GSBS Program. The same person may meet all "outside member" requirements. Individuals outside the GSBS Faculty may serve on a student's committee when their particular areas of expertise are not represented on the GSBS Faculty, but there may be no more than two such members on the committee. If four of the members are from the same department/Program, the fifth member outside the department/Program must be a GSBS faculty member.

The Chair of the Examining Committee cannot be the student's Advisor and must be a GSBS faculty member. Upon approval by the Academic Standards Committee, the Examining Committee and the student are notified by the Dean and sent instructions for the examination.

View the GSBS policies concerning requirements for a Ph.D. degree.

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