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Departments & Programs


Candidacy Examination Forms and Policy

Candidacy Forms

There are three forms required for the candidacy exam that need to be completed and returned to the Student Services Manager four weeks in advance.  You also need to reserve a room for your examination. Email room request to Yvonne Lopez.

Application to Candidacy

Prior to scheduling the candidacy exam, the Ph.D. pre-candidate must have completed the three letter graded courses as described in the Graduate Student Handbook.  Students should have a plan to complete the fourth letter-graded course for the GES program requirements.   The student must complete the Application to Candidacy form and return the form to the Student Services Manager four weeks prior to the exam.  On the form, the student must list the courses used to satisfy the requirement and how these courses have given them sufficient background knowledge to become a Ph.D. candidate.

Examining Committee 

The Examining Committee consists of a minimum of 4 members and a maximum of 5 members, at least 3 of whom are AC members and at least 2 of whom are GES AC members. The Chair of the Examining Committee must be on the AC, cannot be the Dissertation Research Advisor. The Examining Committee must be approved by the DGS and the Chair of the department (or the Associate Chair of the department if the student's advisor is either the DGS or Chair). This form should be submitted to the Student Services Manager four weeks prior to the exam and can be found above.

Research Proposal

The candidacy exam is an oral exam based on the candidate's written research proposal. The exam is a test of the student's ability to recognize, evaluate, and plan a significant research project and his/her mastery of fields essential to the completion of research. The research proposal must provide a concise review of the background literature, and must discuss the proposed problem, its importance, and the methods to be applied to its examination. The methods should be made clear. The proposal shall contain a timetable and, if appropriate, the student shall discuss such matters as funding, field logistics, laboratory scheduling, and availability of equipment. The proposal must be well thought-out, carefully written and edited, and finished with appropriate references and illustrations. It shall not exceed 15 double-spaced pages in length, exclusive of figures and bibliography. The student must present a draft proposal to her/his advisor in a timely fashion, and take account of the advisor's comments and require revisions before preparing a final draft. The student shall submit a copy of the final draft of the research proposal to each member of the Examining Committee at least two weeks before the scheduled date of the examination.

Candidacy Exam (Research Qualifying Exam) 

Timing: University policy requires passing to candidacy by the end of he sixth quarter. Therefore, it is strongly advised that the candidacy exam be taken during the 5th quarter so that the student may retake the exam in the case of inadequate performance and still advance to candidacy by the end of the 6th quarter.

The Exam: The Candidacy Exam shall be oral and consists of three parts: (1) a presentation of the proposed research (no more than 30 minutes duration); (2) an examination of the candidate on the merits of the proposal, touching on but not limited to the aspects listed in the proposal; and (3) an examination of any subject matter judged by Committee members to be relevant to the student's ability to carry out the proposed research.

It is recognized that, in practice, parts (1)-(3) may not be entirely separate and distinct. The entire examination shall last no less than 2 hours and no more than 3 hours; the examination under part (3) shall last at least one hour. The examination is not public.

NOTE: The student should, in ample time before the examination, consult the individual members of the Examining Committee to ascertain the subject matter and level of preparedness require for part (3) of the examination.

Results of Exam: The Examining Committee shall discuss and evaluate the student's performance. Results may be "pass" (no conditions attached), "inadequate performance," or "fail". Not more than one negative vote will be accepted in a "pass" decision. "Fail" results from 2 or more negative votes and disqualifies the student from continuing in the Ph.D. program. "inadequate performance" results from the Committee's decision that the student must meet certain criteria deemed necessary by the student's Committee. These criteria could include retaking the exam, completing specific courses, rewriting the proposal, et. If the student is required to retake the entire exam it must be with the same Examining Committee. The Examining Committee should record on the form reporting the result of the criteria the student must meet. These criteria must be met prior to the beginning of the student's third year in order to be considered in good standing and continue to be eligible for departmental support.

Students who fail the Ph.D. qualifying exam and who would like to be considered for the M.S. program, must formally apply to the M.S. program including submission of two letters of recommendation.  The letters should be from AC members who are willing to serve on the student' M.S. reading committee, should the student be admitted, one of whom agrees in writing to serve as the research advisor.

Appeals in Case of Failure: In case of failure, the student may appeal (within the same quarter as the exam) to the Chair of the department who shall seek advice of the DGS before deciding wither to permit a new exam or to reject the appeal. If a second exam is permitted, a new Examining Committee is appointed by the Chair of the Department; the new committee shall have a minimum of two new members.

Delay of Candidacy Examination

Ph.D. students wishing to delay their candidacy exam must seek written approval from their advisor before submitting a request for delay to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). This request must be submitted before the start of the 6th quarter. Under exceptional circumstances, the DGS will recommend approval of a delay to the Chair of the department, who has final authority. A maximum delay of one year may be granted. Students who fail to petition for a delay of candidacy before the start of the 6th quarter and who do not schedule a candidacy exam during the 6th quarter will not be allowed to continue in the Ph.D. program.