Candidacy Examination

1.            The Candidacy Examination should be scheduled soon after a student begins doctoral studies at this university, and typically occurs during the second semester of the student’s Ph.D. program and must occur before the end of the third semester in the program. The adviser and Candidacy Examination Chair should make the necessary arrangements with the Staff Assistant in the Department's Graduate Programs Office with approval of the Graduate Program Coordinator at least one (1) month in advance. A copy of the exam regulations should be provided to committee members.

2.            The Candidacy Examination should determine whether a student is qualified to become a candidate for the Ph.D. degree and should identify deficiencies that need to be addressed through course work or other means.

Each program has its own Candidacy Exam Committee. The purpose of the Candidacy Exam Committee is to assess the student's written and oral competence in English, their knowledge and understanding of topics and basic principles which are important in their program, as well as their intellectual capability for study at the doctoral level. Knowledge of the scientific method, problem-solving ability, and interpretation of experimental results are general areas which the committee is expected to explore. If the student is pursuing a dual degree program, a member of that program must be added to the Candidacy Committee membership for the student.


Members of the Candidacy Exam Committee shall be those selected by the program faculty and appointed by the department head annually. In addition, a representative from any dual degree program in which the student is seeking a Ph.D., must be present.


During the FOR and SOILS programs, the adviser will attend the exam, but will not participate in asking questions. The adviser will participate in the vote regarding the student's performance.


During the WFS program, the adviser will not attend the exam (and therefore will not participate in the vote regarding the student's performance). However, the adviser will be consulted by the WFS Candidacy Exam Committee chair prior to informing the student of the results.


3.            The doctoral student, assisted by his/her adviser, will prepare sufficient copies for the Candidacy Examination committee of a resume of graduate study objectives, an outline of the proposed program, evidence of a high level of competence in use of the English language (reading, writing, speaking), and other candidacy qualifications. These should include clear evidence of scholarly and research abilities. Examination scores, such as GRE, may supplement academic records.

4.            The Candidacy Examination will consist of oral and written questions; at least one general written question (may be non-subject matter) will be used to assess written English competence.

5. The committee determines if the student meets the English language requirement, decides whether any remedial action is needed.

6. The Chair reports specific course deficiencies and other remedial actions recommended by the committee to the Graduate Program Coordinator immediately after the examination. The student’s objectives and a comparison of his/her completed courses with the Department's B.S. and MSc degree requirements should be taken into consideration. It is the responsibility of the adviser to ensure that stipulations from the Candidacy Examination are satisfied in the Department's Graduate Academic Plan approved subsequently by the student’s committee.

7. A two-thirds favorable vote is required for approval, after which the Graduate Program Coordinator will notify the Graduate School that the student is acceptable as a candidate.

8. If a student is not acceptable, the committee decides whether or not the student will be permitted to continue and take another Candidacy Examination.