Qualifying Examination (QE)

Written Research Proposal

The written research proposal is prepared prior to the qualifying exam, and students are examined on the proposal as part of the exam. 

Evolutionary Wing

Prior to taking the qualifying exam, students must submit a research proposal to their qualifying exam committee members. Graduate students write their dissertation research proposal in coordination with members of their qualifying exam committee. Dissertation research proposals contain a clear statement of the research question and background, an analytical framework and literature review, and a detailed methodology. There is no required length, but typically these proposals range between 10 and 25 pages. Once the proposal is approved by the QE Committee the front page is signed by the Major Professor and the proposal is placed in the student's departmental file.

Sociocultural Wing

Over the course of the third year of study, graduate students write their dissertation research proposal in coordination with members of their qualifying exam committee. Dissertation research proposals contain a clear statement of the research question and background, an analytical framework and literature review, a detailed methodology, an in depth budget, and time-table for conducting research. Students must submit an expanded version of their research proposal to their committee as part of their Qualifying Examination in the Spring Quarter of their third year of study.

Qualifying Examination

The QE is intended to test a student's depth and breadth of knowledge that is required to undertake the dissertation research and writing. The QE should be scheduled by the 9th quarter of study.

The results of the qualifying exam are Pass, Not Pass, and Fail. Student who receive a Not Pass or Fail may take the examination one additional time, but only if the adviser agrees. A student who fails the exam on the second try, will be recommended for dismissal from the program. Students who receive a Pass on the qualifying exam submit to the Office of Graduate Studies a request for Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (after paying a fee), and naming their requested Dissertation Committee.

Evolutionary Wing

  • Research proposal: Prepared and submitted to the QE committee prior to the exam.
  • Written exam: Consists of nine hours of written responses to questions solicited from the committee members, usually taken over a three- day period. Students are examined in research methodology and at least two other topical fields related to their proposed research.
  • Oral Exam: a three-hour oral examination is scheduled following the written exam (by 1-3 weeks). Students present their research and then are examined on research methodology, at least two other topical fields, and their research proposal. Topics for the questions are chosen based on consultation between the student, adviser, and committee chair and are normally related to the research proposal.

Sociocultural Wing

  • Essays: The student assembles bibliographies in three fields and prepares two qualification essays (20-25 pages each) for the committee. Each essay is based on one of the critical theoretical and area concerns represented in the bibliography. These themes and issues may coincide with the student’s research interests and, together with members of her/his qualifying exam committee the student designs her/his bibliographies and writes her/his essays over the course of the Fall and Winter quarters of their third year of study. Final versions of the essays must be submitted to the student’s exam committee by the end of Winter Quarter.
  • Research Proposal: The student finalizes her/his research proposal. This final version extends the theoretical and methodological dimensions of the proposal. Extended proposals must be submitted to the student’s exam committee two weeks before the student's Oral Exam.
  • Oral Exam: The student is examined orally for a three-hour time period. During this time, exam committee members evaluate the student’s facility to delve deeper and extend beyond the material presented to date in her/his bibliographies, essays, and research proposal. Exams must be taken by the end of Spring Quarter of the third year of study.