Current Students

General Exam

Before the General Exam, students must have completed at least 60 hours of coursework, 18 of which must be graded credits. It consists of both a written exam and an oral exam.

Note:  When preparing for the General Exam, enroll for credits under HCDE 600, CR/NC.

The General Exam is administered by a four-member committee; the committee chair must be a member of the HCDE faculty who holds a doctoral degree (PhD, D. Phil, J.D. or equivalent in the specific field of study). Each member of the committee will be responsible for drafting and evaluating the question(s) in their subject area. 

Establishing a General Exam Committee 

The Doctoral Supervisory Committee must consist of at least four members: a minimum of three graduate faculty and a Graduate School Representative (GSR). HCDE requires that at least 50% of the doctoral supervisory committee be HCDE graduate faculty. Once the minimum committee makeup is met, non-graduate faculty and affiliates may be appointed. To officially appoint a committee, students must send a list of the committee members (with respective roles) to the Director of Academic Services. To determine if a faculty member is eligible for supervisory committee work or to serve as a GSR, please search the Graduate Faculty Locator.

  • The General Exam Committee chair is chosen by the student from HCDE department faculty. Generally, this person is the faculty member most likely to chair the student’s dissertation; however, this is not a requirement. See the Graduate School Supervisory Memo 13 for specific information.
  • The committee chair, together with the student, will choose the remaining members of the committee.
  • The student will consult with all members of the General Exam Committee to discuss their area of interest. This information will be taken into account when drafting the questions, to strike a balance between the breadth of the field and how it applies to each student’s area of interest.
  • Once the student and their committee have determined the dates for the written and oral exams, the student must:
    • Schedule the General Exam defense through MyGrad in advance of the written exam.
    • Email committee members and Director of Academic Services with the dates and times of both the written and oral exam so they will have questions prepared in time. 

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