The goals of the PhD qualifying exam are:
- To motivate students to review and synthesize course work and reported research
- To determine the student’s ability to understand and apply fundamental concepts
- To develop and test the student’s ability to communicate orally and to respond to questions and
- To evaluate the student’s potential to pursue doctoral research
- To identify areas needing strengthening for the student to be successful as a PhD student and
- To provide a mechanism for faculty to come to know the student’s capabilities
Students should prepare for a comprehensive qualifying exam within the semester following their sixth completed full-time semester or after completion of their 48th semester credit hour. The plan for the qualifying exam will be developed in conjunction with the academic advisor. The qualifying exam consists of demonstration of competency with both:
Domain Specific Knowledge
Demonstration knowledge, understanding, and proficiency in domain specific content and methodology. One of the purposes is to challenge students to discover relevant literature and deepen their knowledge of interests within this track.
Breadth of Knowledge across the discipline
Demonstrate breadth of knowledge across health sciences disciplines through questions that require synthesis of knowledge from core areas.
General Structure of the Exam
- Topics for the exam will include materials covered in the Core Courses (indicated by *) and materials selected within a specific domain. The domain specific reading list will be developed in conjunction with the advisor/committee.
- Students will complete a written exam including both domain general and domain specific questions.
- In addition to the exam, students will prepare a proposal abstract (1-2 pages) and deliver a public presentation of this abstract.
- Following the written exam and public presentation, the student and committee will take part in a closed question and answer session (1-2 hours) over the written exam and public presentation.
Submission deadlines related to materials related for the qualifying exam (e.g. reading list, abstract/proposal to committee) will follow a set timeline following the student’s declaration of intent. All components of the qualifying exam must be attempted within 30 days.
The qualifying exam dossier will contain the following items:
- Research project abstract
- Preliminary dissertation proposal (one to two pages, demonstrating knowledge and work of the student and others, synthesized to present a rationale for the proposed dissertation topic (e.g., theory to be developed, hypotheses to be tested) as well as proposed methodology to fulfill the dissertation objective.)
- List of references (30-50 articles) and syllabi for relevant classes for three domain areas related to their proposed research. Students should discuss these areas with their advisor in the process of planning their graduate program and prior to preparation of their qualifying exam materials.
- Current CV
- All previously completed Individualized Development Plans
Grading: The Advising Committee will assign one of the following grades to the overall qualifying exam:
- Pass unconditionally
- Pass conditionally (Advising Committee together with the Admissions, Progression, and Graduation Committee to specify the conditions needed to pass, such as remedial coursework needed)
- Fail with option to retake
- Fail without option to retake
A student must be successful on each element of the progression exam to achieve pass unconditionally. Each component will be scored as pass/fail only based on its entirety (i.e. you cannot conditionally pass
or pass only a portion of the written or oral Q/A). The Advising Committee decision will determine the specific requirements for options of a conditional pass or options to retake (e.g. retake the written and the oral, oral only, remediate with additional coursework.)
If given the option to retake, students will be allowed to retake any specified portion of the exam once. Efforts to retake the progression sequence must be completed within 12 weeks. Failure to progress after this point will result in dismissal from the program.