Candidacy Exam


When a student has passed the Qualifying Examination and met all of the course requirements, he or she becomes eligible to take the Ph.D. Candidacy Examination in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The Graduate School Handbook outlines the requirements for the Candidacy Examination. Refer to the GSH for policies about the timing and purpose of the Candidacy Examination. It is a single examination consisting of two portions, written and oral, administered under the auspices of the Graduate Studies Committee in conjunction with the student’s Advisory Committee and the Graduate School. The Candidacy Examination is a test of the student’s knowledge of chemical engineering and allied areas of study, of the capacity to undertake independent research, and of the ability to think and express the ideas clearly. It should be open-ended in nature.

The Advisory and Candidacy Examination Committee is chaired by the student’s advisor and is responsible for administering the written and oral examinations and for evaluating the examination in accordance with the rules of the Graduate Studies Committee and the Graduate School. The advisory committee consists of four authorized Graduate Faculty members including the student’s advisor. The Candidacy Examination will cover the broad aspects of the student’s area of specialization, but should not be limited to the dissertation subject. If the student has demonstrated a weakness in a major area of his or her course work, then the appropriate faculty member(s) will serve on the Advisory Committee. Each member of the Advisory Committee will prepare one or more questions for the student, for the written examination, which he or she will grade. The Advisory Committee will determine the dates for the written portion of the Candidacy Examination; however, the time period in which the written portion is administered to the candidate will not exceed seven calendar days. Each student must be responsible to learn the deadlines, options, required forms, and take the full responsibility of executing them in a timely manner.


Candidacy Examination Timing

1.  The written proposal must be presented to the committee no less than three weeks before the oral exam is scheduled.

2.  The written questions will be submitted to Angela Bennett no less than two weeks before the oral exam is scheduled, who will collect them and pass them all to the student at least two weeks before the oral exam.

3.  In the event that Angela Bennett is unavailable, the exam questions will be collected by the chair of the graduate studies committee; currently Professor Nick Brunelli.

4.  Answers to the written questions are due back to the committee one week from the time that they are provided to the student, or at least one week before the oral exam is scheduled, whichever is earlier.


Format for the oral presentation.  The oral portion of the Candidacy Examination is conducted according to the rules of the Graduate School.  The Policy and Standards Committee Research and Graduate Council interpret this rule to mean that the presentation should not be a formal presentation of a prepared talk.  To satisfy the oral part of the examination, the candidate must demonstrate a broad knowledge of the field.  The oral portion of the Candidacy Examination lasts approximately two hours.  Oral presentation of any proposal or other prepared materials must be made prior to or after the oral examination.  Questioning of the student should occupy the entire period of the examination.

At the conclusion of the oral portion, the committee determines pass or fail of the entire Candidacy Examination, based on both the written and oral performance.  Attendance at the oral portion of the exam is limited to the student and the members of the Examination Committee.  Successful completion of the Candidacy Examination requires a unanimously affirmative decision of the Committee.  After satisfactory completion of the Candidacy Exam the student may be admitted to the candidacy for the doctoral degree which signifies that the student is judged to be properly prepared to undertake work on the dissertation.