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Qualifying Exam

Criteria for Exam

  1. Successful completion of program course requirements with at least a 3.0 average.
  2. Must have an Advisory committee chosen and approved by the director.
  3. Students will be required to pass an oral qualifier exam no later than 6 months following the completion of their course requirements. Two weeks prior to the oral qualifier exam, the students will be required to submit an NIH-style research proposal to their Thesis Committee that is based on their proposed Ph.D. research. The format of this proposal will follow the page-limits and any other rules and regulations of an actual pre-doctoral fellowship proposal. Students may submit this proposal to the NIH or another appropriate granting agency (i.e. American Cancer Society, American Heart Agency, etc), if possible. The research proposal will be presented orally to their Thesis Committee as part of their oral qualifier exam. During the oral qualifier exam, the student will be rigorously tested on their general knowledge of biochemistry and molecular biology, which includes:
    • Molecular Biology
    • Enzymology and Bioorganic Chemistry
    • Physical and Structural Biochemistry
    • Metabolism and Regulation

Guidelines for qualifying exam:

The purpose of the oral qualifying examination is to test the student's ability to verbally express his or her basic knowledge of biochemistry, particularly in the areas of (1) the student's anticipated field of study towards the Ph.D. thesis and (2) and demonstrate their basic knowledge of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. A copy of this proposal should be forwarded to the Director of the Program. The purpose of this examination is to determine whether after two years of course work and time at the bench in the laboratory a student can put together a coherent series of experiments addressing a particular well focused topic. These experiments should be well thought out, well controlled, and backed up by an alternative approach. The student should be able to predict and interpret the potential outcomes of these experiments, and to place the outcomes in the context of how this moves the field forward. In theory, this is what one does each time one writes a grant proposal, and for our specific use as a tool in the candidacy process, significant preliminary data ARE NOT REQUIRED.

The Advisory Committee may ask any questions of the student pertaining to any aspect of the student's proposal, to any perceived weakness in the student's understanding of the basic biochemistry of his or her proposed area of work, and/or to any aspect or area of biochemistry or related subjects that any of the Advisory Committee members consider the student should have a basic understanding.

The length of the Oral Qualifying Examination is undetermined, but normally runs between two or three hours. At the end of the Oral Exam, the committee will meet and determine (1) the student passes and is recommended to be admitted to candidacy (2) if the student fails and must retake the exam within 3 months or (3) that the student be offered a terminal masters degree (see Handbook appendix 6).

Paperwork after qualifying exam:

Following the successful completion of the research proposal and the oral qualifying examination, the student should initiate and complete the necessary paperwork and obtain the necessary signatures for admission to candidacy (see Handbook Appendix 3). It is the student's responsibility to confirm his or her acceptance to candidacy. Be sure a copy of the letter from the Graduate School is given to Koula Cozmo for your file as well as a copy to your payroll officer so that your payroll can be changed to reflect the next pay step.