Requirements Beyond Courses

Summer Paper

During the summer between their first and second years, all students must complete a research paper under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Students should identify a faculty advisor and a topic for their summer paper by the end of the second semester. At that time a short (1-page) summer paper proposal should be signed by the student and the advisor and returned to the PhD coordinator. Students should then work closely with their advisor throughout the summer. A completed paper must be submitted to the PhD coordinator at the end of the summer. Part of a student’s qualifying exam performance depends on the quality of the student’s summer paper. The goal is to write a publishable quality paper. This is an ambitious target for the first summer, but it is feasible: many students have published their first summer papers.

Qualifying Exam

The qualifying exam consists of a written exam, an oral exam and the student’s summer paper. The written qualifying exam is taken at the start of the student’s first summer. Each specialization determines the format of its exam.  After the completion of the written exam, the student spends the summer working on his or her summer research paper. The oral exam is scheduled at the end of the summer, and students are notified of their results shortly afterwards.

OID Department faculty members evaluate students based on the quality of their summer paper and their responses on the written and oral portions of the exam.  If the faculty determines that the student has sufficiently mastered the skills needed to continue progress towards a PhD in the chosen specialization, then a student receives a passing grade. If the faculty determines that a student is missing some basic skills, it can specify remedial steps the student must undertake to receive a passing grade. These steps typically include, but are not limited to, reworking responses on the written exam, improving the summer paper and/or completing specific courses with a sufficient grade, and retaking portions of or the entire written exam. The student must complete all qualifying exam conditions by May 31 of the student’s second academic year.

If the faculty determine that a student is sufficiently far from meeting requirements (or if the student fails to meet all conditions by the May 31st deadline), then the student receives a failing grade and may no longer continue in the program

Dissertation Proposal

The dissertational proposal is designed to provide a student with early and formal feedback from the faculty on the student’s dissertation plans. The dissertation proposal defense should occur at the end of the student’s third year, with the fourth year dedicated to the completion of the dissertation. The dissertation proposal should include preliminary results as well as a detailed plan for work that will be completed in the dissertation.

Dissertation Defense

The final requirement in the program is the dissertation defense, which typically occur around the end of the student’s fourth year or fifth year.