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PhD Exams & Committees

PhD Committee  | General Exam  | Reading Committee  | Final Exam  | Language Exam   | Thesis Submission

Be sure to check the official graduate school requirements and check with [an error occurred while processing this directive] and/or Ellen Reynolds when you get to the stage of organizing your exams.


PhD Committee

Your PhD committee must have at least four members. One of the members is the graduate school representative (GSR) appointed by the graduate school. You choose the remaining members; at least two must be statistics faculty. One of the members (usually your research advisor) is the Chair of the committee. You can also have joint chairs (often done when the main advisor is not a statistics Faculty member).

Useful information and rules on GSRs may be found at the following links:

Talk to your advisor about who should be on your committee. Make sure that the personalities and interests are compatible. Approach each of the people with a description of what you thesis plan is and ask them if they would like to be on your committee.

You must form your PhD committee at least 16 weeks (=4 months) before scheduling your general exam, so try to do it as soon as possible. To set up your committee, contact Ellen Reynolds with the names of your committee members. You should also read the graduate school page on PhD committees.

General Exam

The general exam usually involves a 40-45 minute talk that is open to anyone. This usually involves a presentation of your problem, what you have done so far, and what you plan on doing in your thesis. The idea of the exam is to show an understanding of the topic and a plan for further work. Following the main talk, you will meet with only your PhD committee and they will ask you questions. The goals of the meeting are (1) to establish that you understand the background of your research area and (2) to formulate the plan for the completion of your thesis.

Often you will be expected to write a proposal, and your committee members will usually want to see this a couple of weeks before the exam and some before you even schedule the exam!

To schedule your general exam, contact each of your committee members and work out the date and time that they would all be available. It can be difficult to find a compatible day and time so be flexible. This can be especially bad in summer quarter as faculty often take time off or head to conferences. Once you have a date and time, contact Ellen Reynolds who will organize a room and get the appropriate paper work from the graduate school. You must do this at least 3 weeks before the proposed date of your exam.

Make sure a couple of days before your exam, that Ellen Reynolds has received your warrant back from the graduate school. You will have to take this to the exam.

It is possible to fail a general exam or to obtain a conditional pass, but this rarely happens. Usually your advisor will not let you schedule the exam until s/he thinks you are ready.

Upon passing your general, you will become a PhD candidate ("PhC") and get a certificate from the Graduate School to that effect. It is departmental policy that every PhD candidate has a committee meeting with at least three committee members present at least once per year. This meeting should be arranged by the student, and should generally take place in the Fall quarter. In the meeting, the student should outline progress since the last meeting as well as plans for the coming school years.

You should check the graduate school page on General exams.


Reading Committee

Your reading committee consists of 3 members of your PhD committee. If your PhD committee consists of the minimum 4 people (including the GSR), then your reading committee will be all of the non-GSR members.

Your reading committee members have to read an entire draft of your thesis before you schedule your final exam. So if your committee members think they can read your draft in 3 weeks then you only need to form the reading committee 3 weeks before scheduling the final. Most faculty prefer 6 weeks.

To set up your reading committee, contact Ellen Reynolds with the names of the members.

You should check out graduate school page on reading committees.

Final Exam

If you have made it to this stage, congratulations!

The final exam usually involves a 40-45 minute talk (which is open to anyone from the University) in which you will present your dissertation work. Following the presentation, you will meet with only your PhD committee members.

People do not usually fail their final exam...your advisor won't schedule it until you are ready.

To organize your final exam, first contact each of your committee members and work out the date and time that they would all be available. It can be difficult to find a compatible day and time so be flexible. This can be especially diffcult in summer quarter, as faculty often take time off or go to conferences.

Once you have a date and time, contact Ellen Reynolds, who will organize a room and the appropriate form. This can take up to 4 days.

You must schedule your exam at least 3 weeks before the proposed date. At the time of scheduling, your reading committee members will have to sign a warrant stating they have read a draft copy of your thesis. Make sure you have already given them a copy of the draft!

A couple of days before your exam, make sure that Ellen Reynolds has received your warrant back from the graduate school. You will have to take this to the exam.

You should check out graduate school page on final exams.

Language Exam

There is no language requirement.

Thesis submission

Hand in your thesis and other materials to the graduate school by the last day of the quarter in which you plan to graduate. If you can't meet this deadline, you will have to register and pay tuition for the following quarter. YOU MUST HAND IN YOUR THESIS WITHIN 60 DAYS AFTER THE EXAM AT THE LATEST OR ANOTHER FINAL MAY BE SCHEDULED. You should check out the thesis submission reminders and tips of the graduate school.

Some other good links:

Some pointers on using the LaTeX templates are collected here.

Minimum Times

Here's a rough outline of the minimum times between scheduling exams, forming committees or exams themselves. Before beginning this process, you should have passed your prelims.

Form PhD committee.
|
16 weeks
|
Schedule General exam.
|
3 weeks
|
General exam.
|
|---------
|
General
and Final
cannot be done in the
same quarter

|
|---------
Form Reading committee.
|
Time enough for reading members
to read a thesis draft

|
Schedule Final exam.
|
3 weeks
|

Final exam.
|
Maximum 60 days or end of quarter
|
Hand in thesis.