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Result of the Final Oral Examination

Section 7.10 of the Graduate School Handbook

DecisionOnly the final oral examination committee members, including the Graduate Faculty Representative are to be present for discussion of the doctoral candidate’s performance and the decision about the outcome. 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 Final Examination in GRADFORMS that should be submitted to the Graduate School within 24 hours of the examination’s completion, but no later than the posted deadline for the autumn or spring semester or summer term of graduation. 

The examination is expected to follow all established university policies. 

SatisfactoryThe doctoral candidate is considered to have completed the final oral examination successfully only when the decision of the final oral examination committee (including the GFR) is unanimously affirmative.

UnsatisfactoryIf the examination is judged unsatisfactory, the final oral examination committee must decide whether the doctoral candidate will be permitted to take a second final oral examination and must record that decision on the Report on Final Examination. Should the GFR cast the only negative vote at the conclusion of the examination, the matter will be referred to the Graduate School for review. Typically, second attempts are only reserved for situations in which the doctoral candidate has met almost every requirement of the final oral exam examination (namely, originality, independence of thought, the ability to synthesize and interpret and the quality of research presented), but needs to make minor adjustments or improvements. 

During the examination, if the GFR finds that the examination is not fair, professional or rigorous, the GFR is encouraged to express their concerns prior to a decision being posted and then to submit their evaluation and vote after discussion. If the GFR judges that additional time or information would be needed to render a vote, the GFR should contact the Graduate School immediately after the examination has concluded and before they report their vote. The Graduate School will review the issues raised by the GFR. The GFR will then record their vote, preferably within 48 hours after the examination. The Graduate School will take appropriate action based on the GFR vote. 

Second Final Oral ExaminationIf a second examination is held, the final oral examination committee must be the same as the original one unless a substitution is approved by the Graduate School. All other rules pertaining to final oral examinations must be followed.

FailureA doctoral candidate who fails the final oral examination twice is not allowed an additional examination. After two unsatisfactory attempts at the final oral examination, a doctoral candidate is not permitted to be a doctoral candidate in the same or in any other graduate program in the affiliated college(s) at this university. A notation of dismissal will be posted to the doctoral candidate’s academic record and further registration will not be allowed. Such doctoral candidates 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.

AppealUpon written appeal by the doctoral student or a member of the final oral examination committee, the Graduate School Grievance Committee will review that doctoral candidate’s final oral examination to ensure its conformity to Graduate School rules and to determine if it was conducted fairly and without prejudice to the doctoral candidate. The Graduate Council has established review procedures (Appendix D).