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Ph.D. Candidacy Examination Guidelines

I. Candidacy Exam Timing

In accordance with GSBS guidelines, students entering in the fall must submit their petition for candidacy to the Office of Academic Affairs no later than the end of the third term (Summer Term) of the second year of study. The candidacy exam must be completed no later than the end of the first semester of the third year (Fall Term).

II. Advancement to Candidacy Exam

A. Approval for Advancement

At the last Advisory Committee meeting, the student should request permission to proceed to the candidacy examination. If granted permission, the student then needs to provide each member of the Advisory Committee with two off-topic abstracts within two weeks of their meeting; this can be done via e-mail after the meeting. Each abstract should be no more than one page and provide the background, significance and hypothesis of the proposal. Once the Advisory Committee agrees that both topics are appropriate, the student needs to obtain the signatures of the Advisory Committee members indicating that the student has approval to petition for candidacy with the chosen topics. If the Advisory Committee does not feel that either proposal topic will generate a good proposal or the subject matter is truly off-topic, the Advisory Committee can request the student to provide two more alternative or revised abstracts.

B. Selection of Exam topic

The Advisory Committee members will recommend which topic they believe will provide a stronger proposal; however, the student will ultimately choose the proposal topic. The student should use the Advisory Committee to receive feedback on the perceived strengths and weaknesses of each proposal topic. These suggestions can then be used to formulate a better proposal.  Once the recommendations are received by the student, the student will choose the proposal topic.

C. Candidacy Exam Committee

The student will work with his or her advisor on the composition of the Exam Committee, obtaining the advisor’s advice on members who will provide expertise in the general area of research, as well as ensuring that a sufficient number (minimum of 2) of faculty experienced in the execution of GSBS candidacy exams are present on the committee. The student will provide the Exam Committee members with the proposal abstract of the chosen topic, and obtain their initials on the Exam Committee form indicating their willingness to serve on the committee.

D. Petition for Candidacy

The student is required to submit 4 documents to the Office of Academic Affairs for approval by the Academic Standards Committee. These include:

  1. Abstract of the proposed dissertation project
  2. Abstract of the chosen off-topic proposal
  3. Petition for Ph.D. Candidacy Examination, Off Topic
  4. Ph.D. Examining Committee form

E. Written Proposal and Oral Defense

When the student is notified by the Office of Academic Affairs of the approval to take the candidacy exam, the student will inform the Exam Committee that the preparations for the exam will proceed immediately. The student has four weeks to provide the members of the Exam Committee with the completed proposal. The format of the proposal will follow those established by the GSBS. The student is required to schedule the oral defense to take place no sooner than two weeks from the date the proposal was submitted; however, the oral defense must take place no later than the end of first semester of the third year (Fall Term).


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