Qualifying Examination

Overview and Purpose of the Qualifying Examination

The primary purpose of the Qualifying Examination (QE) is to evaluate that the student is academically qualified to conceptualize a research topic, undertake scholarly research, and successfully produce the dissertation required for a doctoral degree. The QE must evaluate the student’s command of the field, ensuring that the student has both breadth and depth of knowledge, and must not focus solely on the proposed dissertation research. In addition, the QE provides an opportunity for the committee to provide important guidance to the student regarding his or her chosen research topic.

The Qualifying Exam should be completed before the end of the 3rd year of graduate study.  The QE is typically scheduled at the end of the 2nd year or early in the 3rd year, after all  required Ph.D. coursework and program requirements have been completed (except completion of the dissertation and Examination 2).  Eligible students will have a minimum 3.5 GPA and be registered for the quarter they plan to complete the exam.


10-12 weeks prior – Discuss potential committee members with Major Professor and Graduate Program Advisor

6-8 weeks prior – Set date of exam and reserve room

5-6 weeks prior – Submit signed QE Application form to Graduate Program Coordinator.  (The Graduate Program Coordinator will submit the QE Application to Graduate Studies for approval.  The QE cannot proceed until Graduate Studies has approved the committee.)

2-4 weeks prior – Meet with Committee Members

2-4 weeks prior – Share QE Proposal with Committee Members


1 week post – Upon successful result, complete Advancement to Candidacy Form and establish Dissertation Committee

Resources for preparing for your QE:

BMEGG Qualifying Examination Guidelines for Students

BMEGG Qualifying Examination Guidelines for Faculty

Qualifying Examination Application (GS319)

Acing your Qualifying Exam

Quick Guide for Grant Applications (NIH Format used for QE proposal)

Additional Hints to Help You Succeed on Your QE

QE Regulations (Graduate Studies document)

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