Qualifying Exams

The Qualifying Examination in the Department of Genetics and Development is a two part process involving a presentation to a committee of the student's research activities in the laboratory: Part I should be completed by December 31 of year two.  Part II must be completed by June 30 of year two.  The Qualifying Exam has as its major goal determining whether a student is capable of Ph.D. thesis research.  The Qualifying Committee is concerned with two questions in this regard: 1) Is the student expert enough in his/her field of research interest to pursue thesis research?      2) Is the student qualified to do the laboratory ‘bench’ research required for a Ph.D. project?

Part I

For Part I, a 3-5 page double-spaced research proposal for the ensuing 6-month  period should be presented to the committee at least one week prior to the exam, which is an oral (PowerPoint) presentation with questions and discussion.  The proposal should be in the format of a grant proposal or fellowship application covering the following:

Introduction and Specific Aims

Background and Significance

Preliminary Studies

Research Design and Methods

Literature Cited

Part II

For Part II, a 5-7 page double-spaced summary of research in the format of a progress report should be provided to the committee one week prior to the exam.  It should include the following sections:



Discussion and Future Plans

Literature Cited

The exam itself is an oral (usually PowerPoint) presentation to the committee with questions and discussion.  Following the presentation of Part II, the student will receive a grade of Pass, Contingent Pass, contingent upon satisfying prescribed conditions, or Fail.  In the event of a failing grade, the Training Committee, in consultation with the Qualifying Exam Committee and mentor, will determine whether the student leaves the program or is allowed a reexamination.  There is no requirement for completion of a specific research project to pass the Qualifying Examination.  The Qualifying Committee must simply be convinced that the student is capable of undertaking thesis research by virtue of their evaluation of the student's research plan, laboratory work and understanding of the thesis research area. The program director may solicit information from the student’s mentor prior to Part II of the Qualifying Exam.

Composition of the Qualifying Committee

The Qualifying Committee should consist of three members of the G&D Training Faculty, excluding the mentor. In exceptional circumstances, one faculty member may be chosen from outside the Training Faculty, subject to prior approval by the Training Committee.  The Qualifying Committee should include members who will afford the broadest service to the student as well as enough expertise in the area of the student's research to adequately evaluate the student's knowledge and laboratory progress.  The Qualifying Committee is chosen by the student and his/her mentor.