Qualifying examinations and candidacy

  • Qualifying examination

    The final Qualifying Examination determines whether the student has an adequate command of knowledge in the field of study and can organize, apply and convey that knowledge. The examination covers the applicant's major and minor areas, along with other related areas as the department may prescribe. The student must have the Plan of Work on file with the Graduate School before taking the Qualifying Examination. Successful completion of the examination is one of the requirements for attaining Ph.D. degree candidacy.

    The Qualifying Examination Committee consists minimally of three members, at least two of whom are from the major department and two of whom hold graduate faculty appointments. An external member may be added at the discretion of the department.

    The Qualifying Examination may consist of a written examination OR a written AND an oral examination, as determined by the department.

  • Written qualifying examination
    Successful completion of the written Qualifying Examination is a degree requirement. If the student does not successfully complete the written Qualifying Examination at the first administration, the examining committee may recommend that the student repeat the examination. The second examination may not be held until at least four months have passed, but must be held within one calendar year following the first examination. The same examining committee must preside over both examinations. The second written examination will be considered final. The dissertation proposal cannot be used to satisfy the written qualifying examination requirement. Coursework cannot be counted towards the written exam.
  • Oral examination requirement

    An oral examination is required of all Ph.D. students, although it need not be part of the Qualifying Examination. The oral examination that is not part of the Qualifying Examination may be the prospectus meeting, a lecture or a seminar in which the student presents information orally and answers questions posed by the student's oral examination committee. If the oral examination is not part of the Qualifying Examination, it may be administered after the student has achieved candidacy.

    If the student does not successfully complete the oral examination at its first administration, the examining committee may recommend that the student repeat the examination. The second examination may not be held unit at least four months have passed but must be held within one calendar year following the first examination. The same examining committee must preside over both examinations. The second oral examination will be considered final.

  • Oral examination committee

    If the Oral Exam is part of the Qualifying Exam (or a lecture or seminar), the examination committee must consist minimally of three members, at least two of whom are from the major department and two of whom hold graduate faculty appointments. When the committee includes an extra-departmental member, the department is encouraged to select a person from the student's minor/cognate area.

    If the Oral Exam is part of the Prospectus meeting, the members of the student's Dissertation Advisory Committee serve as the examination committee.

  • Reporting the results of the oral examination

    If the oral exam is part of the Qualifying Examination (or lecture or seminar), at least one week before the oral examination, the student should complete the top portion of the Report on Doctor of Philosophy Oral Qualifying Examination form and submit it to the departmental graduate director. The graduate director must verify that at least two members of the examining committee hold graduate faculty appointments before the exam can proceed. At the end of the exam, the Oral Qualifying Examination Report form is used to transmit the results to the Graduate School.

    If the oral exam is part of the prospectus meeting, at least one week before the prospectus meeting, the student should submit the Prospectus form with the Dissertation Advisory Committee names to the departmental graduate director. The graduate director shall verify that at least two members of the examining committee hold graduate faculty appointments before the exam can proceed. At the end of the exam, the Prospectus form should be used to transmit the result to the Graduate School.

  • Candidacy requirements

    Attainment of degree candidacy is a major milestone in the Ph.D process. The requirements for advancement from Ph.D. applicant to degree candidate are as follows:

    • The Plan of Work approved by the Graduate School
    • Completion of at least 50 credit hours of didactic coursework required on the Plan of Work
    • Satisfactory completion of the Qualifying Exam(s)*
    • Establishment of the dissertation advisory committee — its membership may change until the time the prospectus is submitted

    *The Oral Examination may occur after the student has achieved candidacy only if it is not part of the Qualifying Examination.

    *If the Oral Examination is part of the final Qualifying Examination it must be completed within 60 days of the written exam. 

    *The dissertation proposal cannot be used to satisfy the written Qualifying Examination requirement.

    The Recommendation for Doctor of Philosophy Candidacy Status form is submitted to the Graduate School, and when completion of all requirements has been verified, the Graduate School will advance the applicant to Ph.D. candidate.

  • Candidate status registration

    With the attainment of candidacy, the student begins registration in the dissertation research courses: 9991, 9992, 9993 and 9994 (Doctoral Research and Direction I, II, III and IV, respectively). Students must enroll in these four courses in consecutive academic year semesters with the exception of Spring/Summer.

    A student is considered withdrawn from the Ph.D. program if he or she fails to register for one of the four consecutive semesters beginning with the term following the elevation to Ph.D. candidate. To return to the program after withdrawal for non-registration, the student must seek reinstatement and pay all candidate status fees for semesters missed up to a maximum of four.

    If the candidate has serious medical problems or compelling personal problems, they may petition the Graduate School for a leave of absence from the program. The petition must be supported by the dissertation advisor, the dissertation committee and the graduate officer. It must be submitted before the semester in which the student is unable to enroll. No payment is required for a leave of absence semester.

    If a student completes all four of the Doctoral Research and Direction courses but has not completed all the dissertation requirements and desires to maintain full-time student status, the student may register in Candidate Maintenance Status (9995) until their completion. The fee for the four research courses is equivalent to 7.5 credits of tuition. The candidate maintenance fee is equivalent to the registration fee plus the omnibus fee for one graduate credit. All courses confer full-time registration status. Students must register for 9995 during the semester of the final defense. The student must contact the Graduate School for permission to register in these courses at phdstudents@wayne.edu.