PhD Curriculum

Propositional/Oral Exam

The propositional/oral exam must be taken by the end of the second year. It will consist of a formal written proposal of a project that may or may not be related to the student's thesis research. This written proposal shall be in the format of a grant application, i.e., with a specific hypothesis, designed aims to test such hypothesis, thoughtful experiments to achieve these aims, followed by approaches to address alternative explanations. Such proposal will be evaluated by an examining committee.

Evaluation will be on a Pass/Fail basis. Passing of this exam is required for admission to candidacy for the PhD degree. Failure at this stage will usually result in dismissal of the student from the PhD program.

The examining committee should consist of four faculty members, three of whom should be members of PIB. The members are to be recommended by the student and approved by the Director of PIB.

Before the examination begins, the student should provide the most current academic transcript and CV to the committee members for evaluation. Any deficiencies in the student’s grades or course work should be noted on the Propositional/Oral Examination Report. The chairperson for the Propositional/Oral Qualifying Exam Committee must be a member of the PIB program. Prior to the student’s presentation, he/she will be asked to leave the examination room and the Committee will elect a Chair and evaluate the student’s progress to date.

The student should give a short presentation outlining the background, questions, preliminary data, and experiments described in the proposal. Committee members are expected to question the student on the proposal to gauge the student’s knowledge of the background literature along with their understanding of the proposed experiments and how they relate to the questions they are trying to address. If the committee feels there are gaps in the student’s knowledge they can recommend solutions, such as additional course work, journal clubs, writing a review, re-writing the proposal, etc.

The student’s performance will be discussed among the committee members after the presentation (in the student’s absence). The consensus of the committee is then recorded on the Propositional/Oral Examination Report (i.e. Pass, Conditional Pass, Fail). Specific requirements in the case of a Conditional Pass will be recorded in writing by the Chair of the Committee. The completed form must then be signed by the Graduate program director and submitted to the GSBS office (Research Tower, R-102). If a conditional pass is granted, then the student must obtain the committee’s signatures on a new form after the requirements have been met. This form must be approved and submitted to the GSBS office as above.

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