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The School of Graduate Studies

Qualifying Exam Guidelines - PhD Program in Biomedical Engineering

A two-part qualifying examination, scheduled for no later than the fall semester of the second year, is required to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Students must submit a formal application to take the exam during registration for the spring semester of that year. The application should include the names of three or more faculty who are willing to serve on the qualifying examination committee; these must be approved by the Program Director of the campus directly sponsoring the student. The committee must have at least one faculty member from the campus not directly sponsoring the student, and a member or designee of the executive committee.

The purpose of the qualifying examination is to test general knowledge of Bioengineering, and in particular knowledge that is pertinent to the track in which the student is enrolled, and is intended to discern the student's ability to communicate ideas and concepts. While the exam is a test of general knowledge, students are expected to be especially knowledgeable in the scientific area related to their proposed research.

The format of the examination is in two parts. In part one students will receive one essay question from each of the examiners that they will have one week to answer. The thesis examining committee will either pass or fail the student on this written part. If this part of the examination is passed, the student will be allowed to take the oral part of the examination.

During the oral part of the examination, questions from the committee will not necessarily be limited to the student's essay questions, but may cover other aspects of the student's academic training up to that point. The intent is to focus the committee's attention, and to make the members aware of the areas of interest in which the student might be expected to have particular knowledge.

The examination will be graded as pass or fail by majority vote. In the case of failure, the right to a second examination is at the discretion of the executive committee and the Graduate Dean or Associate Dean for Biomedical Engineering of the campus at which the student is enrolled. An unsatisfactory performance in the qualifying examination may result in cancellation of the student's registration in the sponsoring program. The decision of whether to cancel registration in the program or to offer an opportunity for reexamination is made by the Executive Committee of the the Program on the basis of the student's overall academic performance. This decision is not subject to formal appeal.

The result of each student's examination will be delivered to the Graduate School , in writing, no later than one week following the exam.