Third Year Candidacy Exams

Ph.D. students will be required to appear before their Ph.D. committee and present their research progress no later than the end of June (although May is easier to schedule the committee) of the student’s third year of residency in the program (registered for 1 cr CHE 5150). At this stage, the student should ideally have submitted one (or more) paper(s) to a peer-reviewed journal(s) as an author. Written evidence of progress towards publication is required. The realistic expectation is that at the time of the exam, a paper is published, in press, accepted, or submitted. Students that have already published a peer-reviewed journal article(s) that will constitute one or more chapters of their dissertation may simply provide committee members with a copy. Students that have not yet published a paper must provide committee members with a completed draft manuscript that specifically follows the format specified by their target journal for submission. This draft manuscript must be provided at least one week prior to the examination date.

The student should be able to demonstrate expertise in her/his chosen field of study and have a clear idea of how her/his research project will be expanded to fill out a dissertation. This consists of an approximately 45-minute, “departmental” presentation, similar to the second-year exam, but with an emphasis on what has been accomplished since the second-year exam and how close to publication the results are. The presentation should also outline the student’s future plans to round out the Ph.D. dissertation. The presentation will be followed by a closed-door oral exam, with a total duration of approximately two hours.

The examination committee shall consist of the same graduate faculty that attended the second-year exam, as well as an “outside” committee member from another department that is also on the graduate faculty. The “outside” committee member is chosen by the student in consultation with her/his advisor, and the date/time of the exam is arranged by the student in consultation with committee members. An outside university graduate faculty member may be included in addition to (but not in place of) other normal committee members.  

Students who feel their research progress has been exemplary in their first two years may request that the pre-candidacy and candidacy exams be combined into a single exam taken in May at the end of the student's second year. The combined exam would include all elements of the separate exams in the 45-minute presentation, and the written research proposal should be of sufficient scope to justify a Ph.D. degree. 

The student’s grade will be assigned by the student’s dissertation committee and will be based on a simple majority opinion. In the event of a tie, the student will receive a passing grade. Students that do not pass this exam by the end of their third year of residency in the program will be transitioned to a terminal M.S. degree track and should file for graduation in August of the same calendar year.

Dissertation hours (CHE 6V99) may not be taken until candidacy has been established. After completing the candidacy exam and 45 hours of CHE 5V98, students may register for dissertation (6V99) at their advisor's discretion. Grades for 6V99 should be given by the advisor: 1) “CR” – Credit, indicates the student made satisfactory progress 2) “NC” – No Credit, indicates the student did not make satisfactory progress or 3) “I” Incomplete, student has not completed all assignments for the semester. “I” grades must be completed before certification to graduate.  

Graduate students should not provide any food or beverages for the defense. Faculty will not request that students provide refreshments. Refreshments can be provided by the faculty or through the department. 

     3rd Year Candidacy Exam Fillable FORM (PDF)