PhD Examination Format

The student has a choice of two alternate forms of qualifying examinations.

A written examination followed by an oral exam:
A written examination may be taken either in one eight-hour session on one day or in two four-hour sessions on two consecutive days. The student must answer four essay questions in their field of concentration. Within a week of the successful completion of the written examination, an oral examination, of approximately two hours' duration, will follow.

An oral examination followed by a written research paper:
The oral examination will be approximately two hours in length and will focus on factual aspects of the student's field of specialization. Within six months after passing the oral examination, the student must take the second portion, which consists of a written research paper on an assigned topic to be completed within a period of ten days.

In the case of either, evaluation of the written section is made by the doctoral examination committee. Their decision is communicated to the student within a week of the completion of the examination. In the event that the student is judged to have failed the written section of the examination, committee members will be available to the student either individually or as a group to discuss their decision. In the case of a failure at the oral examination level, the student will be informed immediately upon conclusion of the committee's deliberations. A student who fails the doctoral qualifying examination will be allowed to retake it once, and must do so within a year after the first attempt.

After successfully completing the qualifying examination, the student will be formally admitted by the Graduate School to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Successful completion also entitles those students excused from the Master's examination to receive a Master's degree.