Ph.D. Candidacy Examination Guidelines
All GSBS students must complete all parts of the Ph.D. candidacy examination by the end of the first semester of the third year. The GSBS requires that the Ph.D. candidacy exam should have components that test both the student's depth of understanding in his or her particular area of concentration as well as the student's breadth of knowledge. The assessment will be accomplished through a written and oral examination conducted by the student's Examining Committee.
According to current GSBS guidelines, the student will prepare a 15-page Research Plan (excluding references) in the form of an NIH research grant proposal. This document will consist of four major sections:
- Specific Aims
- Background and Significance
- Research Design and Methods
Although we encourage students to consult their faculty advisors for advice in the preparation of this document, the student is expected to prepare this document on his or her own, as the point of this exercise is to judge the student's ability to present his or her hypothesis, aims, literature review and research plan in a clear and concise manner. The research plan should be presented to the student's Examination Committee two weeks prior to the oral examination.
Two to three weeks prior to the oral examination, the student will contact each member of his/her Examination Committee and request that they submit to him/her a question testing the student's breadth of knowledge of immunology. The student will then answer three of the five questions (two to three typewritten pages per question, single spaced) and return the three questions and answers to all members of the Examining Committee no later than one week prior to his/her oral exam. We strongly suggest that the student use e-mail to communicate with the committee members.
The first part of the Oral Examination will be a test of the student's depth of knowledge based on his/her NIH format grant proposal. During the second part of the exam, the committee will review the student's breadth of knowledge. Each faculty member will review the three written answers for scientific accuracy, the scope and breadth of the answer and the clarity of the writing. The student should realize that the two committee members whose questions were not answered in the written format will be able to quiz the student on the selected topic or any other topic pertaining to Immunology during this part of the exam.
Both the written and oral part of the exam will be graded. The options for grading remain:
- Unconditional Pass
- Conditional Pass