A qualifying examination that will serve as the formal test prior to admission to candidacy for the PhD program will be administered after completion of 13 term units and before the end of the third year. Accordingly, the student should complete this examination within three years after entering the program. The student's dissertation advisory committee will administer this qualifying examination. The exam consists of an evaluation of a written prospectus and an oral presentation and defense of the research proposal. The proposal will be on the thesis project of the student and it will in the format of the NRSA. Following completion of the written segment, the student will present and defend the thesis proposal to the dissertation advisory committee within two weeks after the completion of the written segment. The possible outcomes are (a) pass unconditionally, (b) pass conditionally, with further study suggested (or required) in one or more areas, or (c) fail, with or without the option to re-take the examination after the areas of concern have been pointed out and the student has had time to prepare. If a student receives an unconditional pass, the committee should note whether it is an unconditional pass with distinction or not.
Once the student has passed the qualifying examination without conditions, and the Graduate Studies Executive Committee has approved the prospectus and proposed dissertation advisory committee, the student will be admitted to candidacy.