The purposes of the Preliminary Exam are two-fold. First, it is designed to assess the knowledge that students have gained while completing their coursework. Second, the exam is used to determine whether or not students should continue in the program. The exam includes both written and oral components. If both components are completed successfully, students are admitted to candidacy.
The process leading to the Preliminary Examination takes place as follows. In almost all cases, students are assigned an initial mentor at the time of admission to the Ph.D program. For those who are not assigned a mentor initially (likely because they have not identified a specific area of emphasis when entering the program), the student, after consultation with the Graduate Program Coordinator, invites a member of the relevant graduate faculty to serve as his/her faculty mentor for the remainder of their degree coursework. In coordination with his/her faculty mentor, the student schedules the Preliminary Exam. Doctoral students are eligible to sit for the Preliminary Exam after they have completed a minimum of 30 semester hours of coursework.
Once the student has initiated the Preliminary Exam process by contacting his/her mentor, the faculty mentor will prepare questions for the written preliminary examination. Questions will be based on the five blocks of courses within the Ph.D. curriculum. Students will complete questions representing each of the five blocks of courses and the Reading List. Preliminary Examinations will be administered individually during one week's time on the Baylor campus. The student's faculty mentor as well as two additional graduate faculty members from the Department will read the written examination and conduct the oral exam. Once the student successfully completes both the written and the oral examinations, he/she is officially admitted to the second phase of the program as a doctoral candidate. The candidate will then identify a dissertation chair and committee. Only doctoral candidates can submit dissertation proposals to the faculty for approval.