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Exam Process

PhD Preliminary Exam Process

Written Portion of the Exam

Second-year PhD students submit a research paper they have prepared as a student and a one-page, self-reflective analysis of that work. Submissions will be emailed to the PhD adviser in Autumn quarter. All committee members will read the paper and analysis before the presentation; however, for purposes of the presentation, students should not assume that all audience members will have read the paper.

Oral Presentation

The oral part of the Preliminary Exam will include a public presentation (16-minutes in length) of the research work in the submitted paper and a discussion of the paper during a question-and-answer session with audience members (9-minutes in length). The oral presentation part of the Preliminary Exam is open to the public.


Students will be informed of exam results within four weeks. Students who do not pass the Preliminary Exam for PhD study may take the exam one more time, within six months of failing the first exam. If the student fails the second exam, they proceed to finish a terminal Master's degree.

The criteria for evaluation for the Preliminary Exam are based on the research, the paper/analysis, and the presentation.

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