Qualifying Examination Committee

The Qualifying Examination Committee, consisting of at least four full members of the Program's faculty, is appointed by the Doctoral Coordinator. It should follow the general guidelines for the examination stated in the requirements for the major on this web site, and whatever other policies have been enunciated by the Departmental Doctoral Committee.

The purpose of the qualifying examination is to determine whether the student has acquired sufficient mastery of his or her major area of study to warrant admission to candidacy. The Qualifying Examination Committee should be aware in detail of the nature of the course work that the student has taken to prepare for the examination. To this end, students are asked to keep the syllabi from all their courses and to supply copies of these syllabi to the Departmental Coordinator and to the chair of the Qualifying Examination Committee before the examination is scheduled.

Although different departments may structure the qualifying examination in different ways, the entire process, including any take-home questions, must be concluded in two weeks at the most. Any contingencies in the examination process (additional questions that may be posed depending on how the student performs on earlier questions) must be made known to the student in advance. At the conclusion of the examination, the student must be definitely passed or failed; the grade of "conditional pass" is not permitted. However, the Departmental Doctoral Committee may assign additional course work or other study because of deficiencies that were revealed in the examination.

Before the examination, the student must complete the first page of the Advancement to Candidacy Form. The student should then give the form to the chair of the Qualifying Examination Committee before the examination. All members of the Committee must sign the form on the second page, indicating whether the student has passed or failed. The chair of the Committee should then return the form to the Program Office. This should be done promptly. The Advancement to Candidacy Form is an official university document. If the student fails the examination, the form is retained in the Program Office (and should be retrieved by the student when the examination is repeated). If the student passes, the form is forwarded to the Rutgers Graduate School. Upon approval by the Graduate School, the student is then officially advanced to candidacy, or ABD ("all but dissertation") status.

Full-time students are required to take their qualifying examination either at the beginning of the second summer or the beginning of the third year, at the discretion of the department. Part-time students may delay this timetable by only one year. A student who fails the examination must take it a second time and pass within one semester. Students who fail the second time must leave the program; no third attempt is allowed.

In order to appeal a decision by the qualifying examination committee, a student must submit a written statement to the Program Director within two weeks of receiving notification of the decision. Any such appeal is reviewed by the Program’s Executive Committee.