Preliminary Examination

The Preliminary Examination consists of a written research proposal and oral defense of that written proposal. The proposal is based on your proposed dissertation research and is evaluated by your Certification Committee. The purpose of this examination is to evaluate whether you have mapped out a sound approach to an important and answerable question and to assist with the planning of your project. The prelim is based on your original work; however you are encouraged to consult with your Advisor and other colleagues during the planning and writing of the research proposal. You should complete your Prelim Exam by the end of your second year (August 31). In special circumstances, a one-semester extension will be granted when justified in writing by the student and Advisor.

Steps to Complete:

  • Schedule Preliminary Examination, designate meeting chair, and reserve room locations (All committee members must be present).
  • Preliminary Examination meeting chair must be designated prior to the start of the meeting.
  • Submit a Preliminary Examination Warrant Request Form at least 3 weeks in advance of your scheduled examination to the Program Coordinator.
  • Have written proposal draft(s) reviewed by Advisor. Once proposal is approved by the Advisor, distribute first portion of Preliminary Examination Form (Word Document) and proposal to committee members at least 10 days before exam.
  • Bring a copy of the completed Preliminary Examination Form (Word Document) to the meeting.
  • Give a 20-minute oral presentation describing the research pro­posal and respond to questions from the Cer­ti­fication Committee which correspond to the proposal itself and any related material (Advisor must not contribute to the student’s responses unless specifically asked to by the other members of the Committee).
  • Committee holds an executive session and the designated chair prepares a written evaluation.
  • Obtain signatures on the Preliminary Examination Form (Word Document), and warrant and submit these documents to the Program Coordinator.

Students who successfully complete the Pre­lim­inary Examination will achieve dissertator status and continue their work toward the PhD degree. Students who receive a “conditional” pass on the Preliminary Examination must address deficiencies or revisions as requested by his/her Committee prior to continuing work toward the PhD degree.  Students who do not pass the Preliminary Examination will be required to repeat the exam or will be granted a Non-Thesis Master’s Degree based on the successful completion of required coursework.