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Plant Biology Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Examination for the Ph.D. in Plant Biology will contain a written and oral section.

It must be completed before the end of the third year of study (9th semester) and will be planned and organized by the student and adviser.

  • Failure to take the exam will likely result in termination of funding and/or dismissal from the Plant Biology Ph.D. program (or the Molecular and Cellular Biology program).

Eligibility to take the Comprehensive Examination

  • Minimum 3.0 GPA for all graduate courses.
  • Completion of all course requirements from the course approval form or permission from the Graduate Chair. (Note: This is not a requirement for students in the PBIO-MCB program.)
  • An approved research proposal.

Examiners

At least four members of the Dissertation Committee will be the examiners for the exam.

  • The student should contact her or his examiners the semester before the exam to discuss expectations, exam format, and to receive reading assignments.
  • The Graduate Faculty Representative of the College of Arts & Sciences may choose not to participate. Another faculty member from the Department of Environmental & Plant Biology may substitute for one of the Dissertation Committee members.

Written Section

Each examiner will prepare a written examination.

For the Plant Biology program, the examinations will be scheduled over the course of one week with four hours allotted for each exam. For students in the PBIO-MCB program, the examinations will be scheduled over the course of 10 days, one or two per day.

If an examiner elects to grade numerically, 70 percent will be considered a passing score for the Plant Biology Ph.D. program.

Results of written examination will be communicated to the student and Graduate Chair by the adviser.

A student receiving no more than one failing vote in the written section will be permitted to take the oral section.

Oral Section

Prior to the oral examination, the student will meet with each of the examiners to discuss the results of the written section, withholding the student’s answers. The answers will become part of the student’s permanent record.

The oral examination will take place within two weeks after the student and Graduate Chair have been notified of the results of the written section.

Following the oral examination, each examiner will be asked to either pass or fail the student.

  • All passes: The Report of the Comprehensive Exam for the Ph.D. (CAS#4) form will be forwarded to the College of Arts & Sciences. The student may enter Candidacy for the Ph.D. Degree (CAS#6).
  • Pass, one failing vote: The Report of the Comprehensive Exam for the Ph.D. (CAS#4) form will be forwarded to the Graduate Chair, but not dated and not signed by the Graduate Chair or one examiner. Once the examiner is satisfied, CAS#4 can be signed and dated by examiner and Graduate Chair and forwarded to the College of Arts & Sciences.
  • Fail, two failing votes: a report of the Comprehensive Examination indicating that the student has failed will be forwarded to the College of Arts & Sciences.

If fail, the student can retake the exam (both written and oral) within six (6) weeks.

A student who fails the Comprehensive Examination twice will be dismissed from the graduate program.

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