Qualifying Examination

To be eligible to take the qualifying examination, students must pass all of their core curriculum with a grade of B or higher. Students must take their examination by the end of their second year.

Students prepare a dissertation proposal, which is presented at an oral examination. The purpose is to determine whether the candidate is properly prepared to conduct independent research leading to the completion of a doctoral dissertation. It is not to be regarded as a test of the student’s knowledge of a particular field of interest, though such knowledge must be demonstrated. The student must also demonstrate that they:

  1. Understand how to pose a scientific question.
  2. Are able to develop a systematic approach to its solution.
  3. Can interpret the results of that approach concisely and rigorously.
  4. Are able to frame that interpretation both within the context of the system in question and of other related biological systems.
  5. All proposals must include a section on the incorporation of responsible conduct of research in your project.

Passing the examination leads to the advancement to candidacy and thesis progression for the PhD.