Preliminary Examinations | Geography, Environment, and Sustainability

Ph.D. in Geography

Preliminary Examinations

Following initial approval of your dissertation proposal by your advisory/dissertation committee and completion of 21 credit hours in your program of study, you may sit for a preliminary doctoral examination, which consists of both a written and an oral component. The oral examination will begin with a presentation of the dissertation proposal.

A request for the examination committee must be submitted to the dissertation committee a minimum of four (4) weeks prior to the proposed exam date. The exam cannot take place the first or last three weeks of a semester. These exams are only given in the Fall and Spring semesters (counting from the last day of class).  The written portion is scheduled and prepared by the dissertation advisor, in consultation with the dissertation committee. Questions may cover any phase of coursework taken during your doctoral degree or any subject logically related and basic to an understanding of the subject matter of your dissertation. Each committee member’s set of questions should take four hours to complete. There is a maximum of three days to take the exam. If you have four members on your committee, the exam would be taken in two days. If there are more than four members the exam would take that extra day. The committee has two weeks to read, grade the written exam and present the grades to the committee chair.

Following the written examination, an oral examination is scheduled; this should be scheduled within two to three weeks of the written examination. The complete dissertation committee must participate in the preliminary examinations. In the written exam if a question is given a conditional pass, that question will have to be clarified during the oral exam. If the oral exam has a conditional pass, the committee will convene to assign appropriate readings, class work, etc. Unanimous approval is required to pass the examination; no more than one re-examination is allowed, and this is at the discretion of the dissertation committee. If the exam is failed a second time, the student will be dismissed from the program. The last option is to disband the committee entirely.  If this route is chosen, the process will have to be restarted with only one attempt to pass both written and oral exams.