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Doctoral Examinations

Candidacy Examination

This content references the Graduate School Handbook

The candidacy examination is a single examination consisting of two portions, written and oral, administered under the auspices of the Graduate Studies Committee in conjunction with the student’s candidacy examination committee and the Graduate School.

Written Portion of the Candidacy Examination

This content references the Graduate School Handbook

Procedures. The written portion of the candidacy examination may be administered within a limited time period or given sequentially over an extended time period. Rules for the form, timing, scheduling, sequence, and conduct of the written portion are determined by the Graduate Studies Committee.

Waiver. If, based on evaluating the written portion, the advisor or another member of the candidacy examination committee see no possibility for a satisfactory overall performance on the candidacy examination, the student may be advised to waive the right to take the oral portion. The candidacy examination committee may not, however, deny a student the opportunity to take the oral portion.

Oral Portion of the Candidacy Examination

This content references the Graduate School Handbook

Scheduling. The oral portion of the candidacy examination is held after completion of the written portion and must be completed within one month of the written portion. To schedule the oral exam, the student must submit an Application for Candidacy on GRADFORMS and have this approved by their program and advisor at least two weeks before the oral’s proposed date. The oral examination must take place during announced university business hours, Monday through Friday and must be on the Ohio State University campus.

Attendance and Format. Attendance is limited to the student and members of the candidacy examination committee. Except when video conferencing is involved, all members of the candidacy examination committee must be present during the entire oral examination. The oral portion of the candidacy examination lasts no more than two hours, with at least one hour devoted to questioning of the student. Oral presentation of any proposal or other prepared materials must be made prior to or after the oral examination. Questioning of the student should occupy the entire period of the examination. All committee members are expected to participate fully in the questioning during the course of the examination and in the discussion of and decision on the result of the candidacy examination.

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Result of the Candidacy Examination

This content references the Graduate School Handbook

Decision. The decision about the outcome of the candidacy examination is reached in the absence of the student. After discussion, the satisfactory/unsatisfactory decision is reached by means of a vote. Each examiner indicates judgment by posting their decision on the Report on Candidacy Examination that must be submitted to the Graduate School, usually within 24 hours.

Satisfactory. The student is considered to have completed the candidacy examination successfully only when the decision of the candidacy examination committee is unanimously affirmative.

Unsatisfactory. If the examination is judged unsatisfactory, the candidacy examination committee must decide whether the student will be permitted to take a second candidacy examination and must record that decision on the Report on Candidacy Examination.

Second Candidacy Examination. The nature of the second candidacy examination is determined by the candidacy examination committee. Normally the second exam will include both a written and an oral portion. In cases where the student’s performance on the first written exam was of such a high caliber that the exam committee does not request any rewrites, then only the oral portion needs to be repeated. The advisor should indicate on the Report on Candidacy Examination from the first attempt that a new written exam will not be required for the second attempt. If any portion of the first written exam was not satisfactory, the exam committee must administer a second written exam. A second oral exam will always be required. The candidacy examination committee for a second exam must be the same as the committee for the first attempt, unless a substitution is approved by the Graduate School. The second candidacy examination must be completed no later than one autumn or spring semester or summer term before graduation. All other rules pertaining to candidacy exams must be followed.

Graduate Faculty Representative. A Graduate Faculty Representative (GFR) will be assigned to serve on the second oral examination. For second examinations, a typed copy of the written examination, including questions, the student’s responses, together with a statement of the program’s examination format, policies, and procedures, must be presented to the GFR no less than one week before the oral portion of the exam.

Failure. A student who fails the candidacy examination twice is not allowed an additional examination. After two unsatisfactory attempts at the candidacy examination (including the second candidacy examination), a student is not permitted to be a PhD or DMA candidate in the same or in any other graduate program at this university. A notation of dismissal will be posted to the student’s academic record and further registration will not be allowed. Such students can seek admission to a master’s degree program at this university by utilizing the transfer of graduate program procedure and securing a support letter from the Graduate Studies Committee Chair of the proposed master’s program.

Final Oral Examination

This content references the Graduate School Handbook

The final oral examination tests originality, independence of thought, the ability to synthesize and interpret, and the quality of research presented. The final oral examination concerns principles and historic perspective as well as data. The final oral examination includes, but is not limited to, discussion of the dissertation. The examiners often pursue lines of thought and argument from the data and concepts that have contributed to the research and to its critical evaluation by the doctoral candidate.

Final Oral Examination Committee. The final oral examination committee is composed of members of the doctoral candidate’s dissertation committee, plus the Graduate Faculty Representative. Other graduate faculty members may be added to the committee, subject to the rules of the Graduate Studies Committee. The advisor serves as chair of the final oral examination committee. Responsibility for conducting and evaluating the final oral examination rests with the doctoral candidate’s final oral examination committee.

Dissertation Approval. Before a defense can be held, the doctoral candidate must submit a complete dissertation or DMA document to the dissertation committee for review and approval or disapproval. Doctoral candidates must ensure that they meet the completion timeline set forth by the Graduate Studies Committee.

Scheduling. A dissertation committee member’s approval of the dissertation draft means that the committee member judges it to be of sufficient merit to warrant holding the final oral examination. To schedule the final exam the doctoral candidate must submit an Application for Final Examination on GRADFORMS and have this approved by each dissertation committee member at least two weeks before the proposed defense date. After the final oral examination committee has been approved by the Graduate School and the Graduate Faculty Representative has been assigned, the Report on Final Examination and Report on Final Document are made available to the examination committee. The final oral examination must take place during announced university business hours, Monday through Friday and must be on the Ohio State University campus.

Graduate Faculty Representative. Once the final oral examination is scheduled, the Graduate School appoints the Graduate Faculty Representative (GFR). The GFR is a Category P graduate faculty member who is neither a graduate faculty member in the doctoral candidate’s graduate program nor a member of the dissertation committee. No less than one week before the final oral examination, a complete dissertation or DMA document draft must be presented to the GFR for reference.

The presence of the GFR is required at the oral examination for its entire duration. The GFR is a full voting member of the final oral examination committee and is invited by the advisor to ask questions. The GFR has the right to ask at least one question and renders an opinion by observation of the student’s answers to all questions. The purpose of the GFR on the final oral examination committee is:

  • to assess the rigor of the examination process
  • to assess the fairness, professionalism and integrity of the examination process
  • to assess conformity to rules of the Graduate School (e.g., duration of the exam, adequate time for questions by the committee members)

The GFR reports a judgment of the above to the Graduate School once the final oral examination is completed through an evaluation form on GRADFORMS, preferably within 48 hours after the examination.

Attendance and Format. All members of the final oral examination committee are expected to be present during the entire examination. All committee members are expected to participate fully in questioning during the course of the examination and in the discussion of and decision on the result. The final oral examination lasts no longer than two hours. A public presentation of the dissertation research by the doctoral candidate including questions from the public is allowed within the two hour period. The public presentation, including public questions, is recommended to last about one half-hour. Other faculty members and graduate students may attend the public presentation of the examination, subject to the rules of the Graduate Studies Committee. It is recommended that committee members hold substantial questions for the oral examination in the closed questioning after the public presentation. At least one hour of the two-hour examination period, however, must be allotted to discussion of the research and to questions of the committee and answers by the doctoral candidate. Local programs may develop additional local protocols and procedures.

Video Conferencing. The use of video conferencing during the final oral examination is permitted for committee members not present during the oral examination to enable them to remain connected for the duration of the examination. If a connection is lost for more than five minutes, the oral examination will be halted and resumed upon reestablishment of the connection. All doctoral final oral examinations involving video conferencing must adhere to the Graduate School’s guidelines for video conferencing (see Appendix B).

Postponement. The final oral examination is expected to be held as scheduled; however, circumstances may prompt the advisor to postpone it. Before taking such action, the advisor must consult the doctoral candidate and the other members of the dissertation or DMA document committee, which does not include the GFR. Prior to the examination, the advisor must notify the Graduate School of the postponement.

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