A Qualifying or Comprehensive Examination tests for general knowledge in microbiology and immunology. It is administered after completion of the core curriculum before the beginning of the student's fourth semester at the end of January-beginning of February. The purpose of the exam is to ensure the student's readiness for full time thesis research and successful completion of the Qualifying Examination is required for continuation in the graduate program. The Examining Committee consists of at least five faculty members selected by the Program. MD/PhD students, and transfer students who are admitted as second year level, are expected to take the Qualifying Exam at the end of their first year in the Program. The exam for these students is administered at the end of June-early July.
The examination consists of an Oral Exam, in which the student will meet with the Examining Committee to demonstrate their knowledge of program material, with a focus in their area of specialty, and their problem-solving and scientific skills.
Only two grades are possible: Pass or Fail. At least three of the five Examining Committee members must approve a passing grade. A student receives only two chances to pass the Qualifying Examination before dismissal from the program.