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Second Year

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination (QE) is the means by which students advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. The exam can be taken after five quarters of residency but must be taken before the end of your seventh quarter of graduate study.

The purpose of the QE written document and oral exam is to assess: (i) whether the student is progressing as rapidly as can be expected on their research problem(s), (ii) the student’s general knowledge of Chemistry, particularly in the field of Chemistry relevant to the student’s research, (iii) the student’s ability to put their research project in the context of their greater field within Chemistry, and their familiarity with the relevant literature, (iv) the student’s ability to articulate plans for the near-term (next 1-2 years) for their project, and (v) whether the student is likely to produce an acceptable thesis within the next 2 – 3 years.

The student will write his/her QE document in the format of a research proposal, where the topic is their own thesis research, and where the Preliminary Results section is a summary of the work they have accomplished so far. The Preliminary Results Section will occupy a significantly higher fraction of this document than it would in a typical original research proposal. The document must be submitted to the student's committee 1 week prior to their scheduled oral exam.

Choosing the Exam Committee

The Graduate Affairs Committee chair will assign committee members based on suggestions from the student’s adviser. The appropriate form must be returned by the research advisers to the Graduate Program Assistant within the first two weeks of the fall quarter for students with Master’s degrees, and the first two weeks of the  winter quarter for students with a bachelor’s degree. The student’s research adviser will be a member of the QE committee and will be present during the examination. Upon completion of this examination, the QE committee becomes the student's PhD committee with the advisor as chair.

Qualifying Exam Procedures

Detailed QE guidelines and formatting questions can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook (page 7) or by downloading the PDF linked below.