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Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is aimed at your ability to synthesize research results from your own experiments, those of your colleagues and the literature, as well as your general knowledge of engineering and science. The expectations of basic knowledge will depend on your background, and students should discuss the expectations with committee members in advance. The examination includes a written and an oral component, and you will be judged based on your cumulative performance in both phases.

The qualifying examination is administered by a committee of three faculty, at least one of whom is from a department other than your dissertation advisor. Typically, this same committee will administer your candidacy examination and your final dissertation defense, but in some cases, it may change in response to changes in your research direction.

Written Qualifying Examination

Students must write a paper of no more than ten pages that describes the work you completed in your first two semesters in the program. The paper should focus on:

  • The significance of your work in the context of biomedical research
  • The methods you employed in your research, highlighting the basic engineering science
  • The results you obtained
  • An in depth discussion of your results in relationship to the field

This document is not a proposal of future research or of your proposed dissertation studies. You may wish suggest future research directions that would answer open or controversial questions that arose in your work or that are in the literature, but these may or may not be part of your own doctoral research.

Oral Qualifying Examination

The oral examination is CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC.

The oral examination commences with a presentation of the research document by the student. The faculty committee will then question the student. Questions may be based on the presentation and written document, but in general should also cover basic material related to the field and courses taken during the first year in order to judge the students technical capabilities. The questions are not limited to the topics in your presentation. Because students will have differing undergraduate backgrounds and coursework, they should discuss the scope of the material they are expected to know with their examination committee prior to the oral examination.