CBFE PhD Qualifying Exam

The purpose of the exam is to evaluate the student’s preparation for conducting dissertation research. All full-time PhD students must take the “qual exam” after their first year, unless the student is still working on deficiencies in prerequisite courses.

Qualifying exams are designed for students to display breadth and depth of knowledge and their ability to identify and discuss important research questions and directions in the field. Passing the exam indicates that the student has demonstrated understanding of core material and should proceed in the program. The student is given up to 6 hours to complete the exam. One page of notes is permitted in the exam room.

The exam has two parts, Theory Application and Methods Application. It is written and graded by CS faculty teams. All responses should be well-informed, with appropriate technical details, and show a competency and fluency with basic research methods. Quality academic writing standards are expected for all parts of the exam.

Evaluation Rubric

High Pass Pass Deficient
Theory Shows strong knowledge of theories and the ability to thoroughly apply to practical problems Shows solid knowledge of theories and can apply theory to practical problems Only shows knowledge of theories and/or cannot show ability to apply theory to problems
Methods Shows strong knowledge of causal inference methods and the ability to thoroughly apply to practical problems Shows knowledge of causal inference methods and can only generally apply them to practical problems Only shows basic knowledge and cannot apply methods to research problems

A student who has a high pass on one section but fails another, may take the failed section. A student with a pass on one section and fail on the other section needs to re-take both sections.

Not achieving a pass or high pass on both sections after two attempts is cause for removal from the program. Students are encouraged to work with other students in preparing for exams, but the taking of exams is an independent exercise. Sample exams maybe available upon request.


School of Human Ecology Graduate Programs Handbook Copyright © 2022 by Michelle Holland. All Rights Reserved.

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