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Doctoral Examinations

Preliminary Examinations

This content references the Graduate School Handbook
7.3.1

The Graduate Studies Committee may require students to take preliminary or qualifying examinations prior to taking the candidacy examination. These examinations are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate Studies Committee, and results are not reported to the Graduate School. Although successful completion of such examinations may be a prerequisite for taking the candidacy examination, these examinations are not part of the candidacy examination.

Candidacy Examination

This content references the Graduate School Handbook
7.4.1

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.

7.4.2

The candidacy examination is a test of the student’s comprehension of the field, allied areas of study, capacity to undertake independent research, and ability to think and express ideas clearly. For D.M.A. students, the candidacy examination is a test of the student’s fundamental knowledge of the music field as well as of preparation in a specific area of concentration.

Written Portion of the Candidacy Examination

This content references the Graduate School Handbook
7.5.1

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.

7.5.2

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.

If the student decides to waive the right to take the oral portion, a written statement requesting the waiver must be presented to the candidacy examination committee. In such a case, the candidacy examination committee records an “unsatisfactory” on the Report on Candidacy Examination form and submits a copy of the student’s waiver request to the Graduate School.

Oral Portion of the Candidacy Examination

This content references the Graduate School Handbook
7.6.1

Scheduling. The oral portion of the candidacy examination lasts approximately two hours and is held after completion of the written portion. The oral portion normally 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.

7.6.2

Deadlines involving Graduate Faculty Representative. For second examinations, a typed copy of the questions, the student’s responses, together with a statement of the program’s examination format, policies, and procedures, must be presented to the Graduate Faculty Representative no less than one week before the oral portion of the exam.

7.6.3

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 approximately two hours. 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.

7.6.4

Video Conferencing. All doctoral candidacy oral examinations involving video conferencing must adhere to the Graduate School’s guidelines for video conferencing, available from the Graduate School (Appendix B).

7.6.5

Halting an Oral Examination in Progress. If for reasons of illness, fire, or other emergency, the candidacy examination committee members, including the Graduate Faculty Representative (during second examinations), agree that it is necessary to halt the oral portion of the candidacy examination, then the examination shall be rescheduled without prejudice to the student. If, however, the committee members unanimously decide that the examination has been sufficient to reach a decision to pass the student, then they shall consider the examination concluded and complete the Report on Candidacy Examination.

7.6.6

Postponement. The oral portion of the candidacy examination is expected to be held as scheduled; however, circumstances (other than failure to pass the written portion) may prompt the advisor to postpone it. Before taking this action, the candidacy examination committee chair must consult the student and other members of the candidacy examination committee, which does not include the Graduate Faculty Representative. Prior to the oral examination, the candidacy examination committee chair must notify the Dean of the Graduate School of the postponement. See section 7.5 regarding the student’s waiver of the oral portion when the candidacy examination committee judges the written portion to be unsatisfactory.

Result of the Candidacy Examination

This content references the Graduate School Handbook
7.7.1

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 form that must be submitted to the Graduate School.

7.7.2

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

7.7.3

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.

7.7.4

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 form 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 Dean of the Graduate School. A Graduate Faculty Representative will be assigned to serve on the second oral examination. The second candidacy examination must be completed no later than two semesters or one semester and a summer session before graduation. All other rules pertaining to candidacy exams must be followed.

7.7.5

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 supplemental candidacy examination), a student is not permitted to be a doctoral 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.

7.7.6

Review. On written appeal by the student or a member of her or his candidacy examination committee, the Graduate School Grievance Committee reviews that student’s candidacy examination to ensure its conformity to Graduate School rules and to determine if it was conducted fairly and without prejudice to the student. The Graduate Council has established review procedures (Appendix D).

Final Oral Examination

This content references the Graduate School Handbook
7.10.1

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 student.

7.10.2

Final Oral Examination Committee. The final oral examination committee is composed of the student’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. The advisor of a doctoral student must be a Category P member of the student’s graduate program. Responsibility for conducting and evaluating the final oral examination rests with the student’s final oral examination committee.

7.10.3

Draft Approval. Before a defense can be held, the student must submit a complete, word-processed dissertation draft to the dissertation committee for review and approval or disapproval. All dissertations submitted for format review and approval must be of a caliber similar to that expected of an article submitted to a journal for review. Draft documents that are missing tables, graphs, citations, chapters or sections, etc., are incomplete.  Incomplete drafts cannot be submitted for draft approval or defended.

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 student 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 Dean of 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.

7.10.4

Graduate Faculty Representative. Once the final oral examination is scheduled, the Dean of the Graduate School appoints the Graduate Faculty Representative. The Graduate Faculty Representative is a Category P Graduate Faculty member who is neither a Graduate Faculty member in the student’s graduate program nor a member of the dissertation committee. The Graduate Faculty Representative is a full voting member of the final oral examination committee. The Graduate Faculty Representative reports a judgment of the quality of the examination, of the dissertation or document, and of the student’s performance to the Graduate School. If the examination is reviewed, the Graduate Faculty Representative also reports to the Graduate School on the fairness of the conduct of the examination and its conformity to Graduate School rules.

7.10.5

No less than one week before the final oral examination, a complete, word-processed dissertation or D.M.A. document draft must be presented to the Graduate Faculty Representative for review and approval. If the Graduate Faculty Representative judges the dissertation or D.M.A. document unsatisfactory or incomplete, the student’s advisor and the Dean of the Graduate School are to be informed no later than one day prior to the final oral examination. After consulting with the student and the dissertation committee members, the advisor may elect to hold the examination as scheduled or postpone it until the situation is resolved.

7.10.7

Attendance and Format. Except when video conferencing is approved by the Graduate School, all members of the final oral examination committee must 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. Other faculty members and graduate students may attend the examination, subject to the rules of the Graduate Studies Committee. The final oral examination lasts approximately two hours. A presentation of the dissertation research by the student is allowable. At least one hour of the two-hour examination period, however, must be allotted to discussion of the research and to questions of and answers by the student. Local programs may develop additional local protocols and procedures.

7.10.8

Video Conferencing. All examinations involving video conferencing must adhere to the Graduate School’s guidelines for video conferencing in Appendix B.

7.10.9

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 student and the other members of the dissertation or D.M.A. document committee, which does not include the Graduate Faculty Representative. Prior to the examination, the advisor must notify the Dean of the Graduate School of the postponement.

7.10.10

Halting an Oral Examination in Progress. If for reasons of illness, fire, or other emergency, the committee members, including the Graduate Faculty Representative, agree that it is necessary to halt the final oral examination, then the examination shall be rescheduled without prejudice to the student. If, however, the committee members unanimously decide that the examination has been sufficient to reach a decision to pass the student, then they shall consider the examination concluded and shall report the result to the Graduate School.

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