Qualifying Examination and Dissertation Proposal

You will take a combined Qualifying Examination and Dissertation Proposal (QE/DP) after the end of your second year of study. (Note that the General and Qualifying Examinations cannot be taken in the same semester.)

You are responsible for scheduling a date, time, and location for the QE/DP with your Supervisory Committee.

You should prepare a Dissertation Proposal (DP) of approximately 6-10 pages (12 point font, inch margins, single-spacing) that describes your proposed dissertation research. This DP should be written largely independently of your Supervisory Committee members’ advice (including your thesis advisor), and is intended to demonstrate your knowledge of the context of your current research with respect to the state-of-the-art, your vision of where your future research will lead, and your ability to express ideas clearly. The following structure should be used:

Motivation and Significance
Background and Prior Research
Preliminary Research Results
Proposed Research

At least two weeks prior to the QE/DP, you should provide your Supervisory Committee with your DP.

Each of the members of your Supervisory Committee may submit a set of written questions on the DP and your general area of research no less than one week prior to the QE/DP. You should submit a written response to these questions at least one day before the QE/DP.

The QE/DP should start with a 20-25 minute presentation of your DP, followed by questions of the Supervisory Committee on your DP and general area of research. The questions should rigorously evaluate your depth and breadth of knowledge, and the total length of the exam is expected to be 1-2 hours.

Based on feedback by the Supervisory Committee during and after the QE/DP, you should prepare a final DP that should be approved by your Supervisory Committee within 4 weeks of the QE/DP. If necessary, the Supervisory Committee can specify further revisions and requirements after receiving these revisions. A copy of the final DP should be provided to the Program Assistant for inclusion in your file.

After a satisfactory presentation and defense of your DP, a satisfactory response to any other questions, and the submission of a final approved DP you will be admitted to candidacy.