Examination Procedures

Length of the Exam

The examination should be long enough for the committee to learn as much as it needs to judge the student’s qualification as a Ph.D. candidate. Ordinarily, examinations should be under two hours, but committees are free to set their own time limits.

Oral Examination Procedures

The chair of the examination committee will begin the meeting by identifying those present and, if necessary by distinguishing between voting and non-voting attendees. Before the candidate enters, the advisor or departmental representative serving as a member of the examination committee will advise the examiners and answer their questions concerning:

  • The candidate’s formal course record.
  • School, department, or committee requirements (e.g., whether specific minor as well as major subjects are required).
  • Special prerogatives that should determine the character of the examination.

At the conclusion of the examination, after a vote has been taken, the chair of the examination committee should record the results of the examination and have each committee member sign the form. The chair should also sign the form and fill in the date.

  • If the candidate receives an unconditional pass (e.g., a majority of favorable votes), the examination committee is discharged.
  • If the candidate receives a conditional pass, the exact terms of the condition are to be reported on the examination form, i.e., what course(s), if any, need be taken, in what time frame the conditions(s) should be met, and any other pertinent information that will point out clearly to both the student and faculty how to satisfy the condition(s). As soon as all conditions have been met, the chair of the examination committee must report the removal of the condition in writing to the Graduate Board. The committee is then discharged.
  • If the candidate fails, the examination committee, through the chair, should recommend a course of further action:
    • No further examination.
    • Re-examine the candidate by the same committee at a later date. The candidate must receive a Pass or Conditional Pass on the second attempt. A second failure will lead to dismissal.
    • Re-examine the candidate by a different committee at a later date. Reasons should be given for the change in the committee membership. The newly formed committee must have representation from the previous committee. The candidate must receive a Pass or Conditional Pass on the second attempt. A second failure will lead to dismissal.

The committee may recommend whatever action in its judgment seems desirable, taking into consideration the background of the student, previous performance, potential, and reaction to oral questioning. The Graduate Board will be guided by these recommendations, but will assume responsibility for whatever action is taken.

The signed original must be returned to the Graduate Board Office.

Duties of the Chair of the Graduate Board Examination Committee

The duties of the chair of an examination committee are to:

  • Preside at the examination.
  • Instruct the committee as to the scope, character, and conduct of the examination before questioning begins.
  • Allot time to inside and outside examiners.
  • Report the results of the examination to the Graduate Board immediately after the examination using the original examination form.
  • In the case of a conditional pass or failure, to monitor the further action recommended.

Reports and Records of Oral Examinations

Immediately after the examination, the chair of the examination committee should tell the candidate in person whether he or she passed or failed the examination, or received a conditional pass.

The advisor/departmental representative serving on the examination committee should report the results of the student’s examination to the department chair.

Should a student fail or receive a conditional pass, the Graduate Board will formally notify the department chair in writing.

The Graduate Board also notifies the Office of the Registrar, who in turn, enters passing results onto the student’s official transcript.