Application to Candidacy

At least one semester prior to taking the Candidacy examination (and typically just after passing the Comprehensive examinations), the student must file a form with the Graduate School, describing the course work for the degree and various other relevant facts. See the Graduate Bulletin for more details.

Candidacy Examination

The student should have chosen a dissertation area by the time he or she has passed the comprehensive examinations. The choice of the topic is reviewed by the Committee on Studies, which accepts or rejects it according to criteria such as originality, feasibility, and preparedness.

Once the student has completed the necessary preliminary work on the dissertation topic (such as a literature survey), written a formal dissertation proposal (i.e., a short paper outlining the proposed research and presenting evidence that it is original, innovative, and that it can be done), and received faculty approval, the candidacy examination must be scheduled (officially, through the Graduate School, with at least two weeks notice). The Candidacy examination is, in effect, the second part of the Comprehensive examinations.

During this examination, the Committee on Studies, as well as any faculty member or graduate student who wishes to attend, hears a presentation by the student on the proposed topic of research. The student defends his or her choice of topic and must demonstrate an adequate command of the subject matter in answering questions from the audience.

At the conclusion of the examination, the Committee on Studies meets to decide whether to admit the student to candidacy, that is, whether to enter with the student into a contract stipulating that the student will be awarded a Ph.D. upon completion of the research program as outlined in the dissertation proposal and amended during the examination.