Doctoral Board Oral Examination

Oral Exams

The Doctoral Board Oral Examination for candidates for the Ph.D. degree has three major objectives:

  1. To assess a candidate’s proficiency in the discipline.

  2. To give a student the benefit of a critical examination of his or her work by scholars within and beyond the graduate program.

  3. To provide a means for monitoring the academic quality of candidates within each program.

Types of Doctoral Board Graduate Oral Examinations

There are two types of Doctoral Board oral examinations: preliminary exams and final exams. Departments or program committees decide whether students will use a preliminary or a final examination to fulfill their Doctoral Board requirement. Preliminary exams are given to students at an early stage in the progress toward the Ph.D.; final exams are given to those who have completed the doctoral dissertation.

  • Preliminary Examinations

    The purpose of a preliminary examination is to test the depth and breadth of the student’s knowledge and reasoning abilities. The scope of such an examination cannot and should not be sharply defined. The Doctoral Board Oral Examination Committee can determine the limits of the exam by reviewing the candidate’s formal coursework along with the requirements of the candidate’s graduate program requirements. The preliminary exam may cover the student’s proposed dissertation topic; in that case, examiners should receive information about the dissertation proposal well ahead of the examination.

  • Final Examinations

    A final examination should concentrate on the student’s doctoral dissertation and its implications. It is reasonable for the Doctoral Board Oral Examination Committee to explore the candidate’s breadth of knowledge in areas ruled germane to the thesis by the chair of the committee. The dissertation and the readers’ report must be available to the committee at least two weeks before a final exam.