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PhD Curriculum

Propositional/Oral Exam

The propositional/oral exam must be taken within 1 year of completing the first qualifying exam, and is intended to be a discussion of the student's proposed thesis research. It will consist of a presentation by the student, followed by an evaluation of both the work already completed and the feasibility of future plans for completing the thesis. There is no formal requirement for a written component to this exam, but the student’s thesis advisor may require a written proposal in a format of their choosing. Evaluation will be on a Pass/Conditional Pass/Fail basis. Passage of this exam is required for admission to candidacy for the PhD degree. Failure at this stage will usually result in dismissal of the student from the PhD program.

The examining committee should consist of a minimum of three faculty members, two of whom should be members of the Molecular Genetics, Microbiology and Immunology graduate program. The members are to be chosen by the student and approved in writing by the Director of the MGMI program using the Approval of Research Advisory Committee Membership form. The student's thesis advisor shall not be present during the exam, and will not participate in the final decision as to whether the student passes or fails.

Before the examination begins, the student should provide the most current academic transcript and CV to the committee members for evaluation. Any deficiencies in the student’s grades or course work should be noted on the Propositional/Oral Examination Report. The chairperson for the Propositional/Oral Qualifying Exam Committee must be a member of the MGMI program. Prior to the student’s presentation, he/she will be asked to leave the examination room and the Committee will elect a Chair and evaluate the student’s progress to date.

The student should give a short presentation outlining the background, questions, preliminary data, and experiments described in the proposal. Committee members are expected to question the student on the proposal to gauge the student’s knowledge of the background literature along with their understanding of the proposed experiments and how they relate to the questions they are trying to address. If the committee feels there are gaps in the student’s knowledge they can recommend solutions, such as additional course work, journal clubs, writing a review, re-writing the proposal, etc.

The student’s performance will be discussed among the committee members after the presentation (in the student’s absence). The consensus of the committee is then recorded on the Propositional/Oral Examination Report (i.e. Pass, Conditional Pass, Fail). Specific requirements in the case of a Conditional Pass will be recorded in writing by the Chair of the Committee. The completed form must then be signed by the Graduate program director and submitted to the GSBS office (Research Tower, R-102). If a conditional pass is granted, then the student must obtain the committee’s signatures on a new form after the requirements have been met. This form must be approved and submitted to the GSBS office as above.