Doctor of Philosophy Program Guide: Taking Ph.D. Exams

Timeline and Satisfactory Progress:
  • Students take the Ph.D. examinations between six to twelve months after completion of coursework.
  • Students should complete the Ph.D. exams in Winter Quarter of the fourth year of graduate study (third year for those entering with a master’s degree) but must complete the Ph.D. exams by the end of the fourth year (third year for those entering with a master’s degree) in order to be making satisfactory progress.
  • Examinations are not administered during the summer.

With their committee’s guidance and supervision, students read (or view) the materials on their reading lists, along with appropriate supplementary materials. After six to twelve months of guided reading, students should be able to identify core research questions and argumentative threads. Additionally, they should be able to explain how their research fits within the academic conversations suggested by the reading lists.

As the exam nears, students, in consultation with their committees, concentrate on synthesizing what they have read (or viewed); exam questions generally emerge from this final phase of discussion and preparation. When the committee members are satisfied that a student is adequately prepared, they advise the student to initiate the scheduling of the Ph.D. Examination.