Qualifying Exam

Qualifying exam and dissertation prospectus course

Passing the qualifying exam is the final step before advancing to candidacy. The qualifying exam consists in an essay of roughly 25 pages, together with an oral exam, on a topic that you plan to further pursue in the dissertation. The qualifying exam will test whether you are ready to write a dissertation on the chosen topic.

To schedule the qualifying exam in a term, you must be enrolled concurrently in the dissertation prospectus course, P804. Successfully passing both the oral and written components of the qualifying exam is necessary and sufficient for passing the dissertation prospectus course.

The dissertation prospectus course and qualifying exam should be taken no later than the second semester of the third year of fulltime study. This may be postponed only with the approval of the qualifying exam committee chair and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Administering the exam

The qualifying exam is administered by an ad hoc committee that typically evolves into the student’s dissertation committee. This committee consists of at least three members. A representative of the minor may be included in the exam committee, if the chair of the committee finds this arrangement  desirable. Note that the university requires that a member representing your minor belong to the dissertation committee.

Students should provide the members of their qualifying exam committee with a copy of their qualifying exam essay at least three weeks in advance of the date scheduled for the oral exam.

If the qualifying exam committee passes the student, then it may issue questions that the student is to address in the dissertation chapter exam. It may recommend immediate submission of the prospectus to the Graduate School. If it does not recommend immediate submission, then the prospectus will be submitted after the student passes the dissertation chapter exam.

View the Qualifying Exam Form