PhD Curriculum

Propositional/Oral Exam

The second part of the two-part qualifying exam is taken one year after the written qualifying exam. This exam is based on an oral defense of a written proposal, which is usually based on the student’s planned thesis work.

The process begins when the student provides an abstract of the proposed work to the Pharmacology Program Director. The examination committee, selected by the Director in consultation with the student, will consist of three faculty members of the Pharmacology Graduate Program, excluding the advisor. In certain circumstances, ad hoc members from outside the program will be permitted. The oral examination should take place within six weeks of forming the examination committee.

The oral exam is based upon a student's written proposal (about 10 pages) that shall take the form of a research grant application (Specific Aims, Background/Significance, Preliminary Results, Experimental Design). The student should consult his/her advisor in preparing proposal but the proposal must be written entirely by the student. While preliminary results are welcome they will neither be essential nor the focus of the exam. The committee and the student’s advisor must receive the proposal at least a week before the exam.

On the exam date, the student will present the written proposal orally. The committee will ask questions related directly or indirectly to the subject matter of the proposal. Students can expect questions on the logical reasoning behind the proposal, the scientific techniques employed, as well as general questions about the practices and principles of biological and pharmacological science.

The student’s performance will be evaluated on a pass/fail basis. A conditional pass may also be awarded. A pass on the exam admits the student to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.  An Oral Proposition form documenting this exam must be filed with the GSBS office.

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