Qualifying Examination (PhD)

1 Purpose To establish standard procedures to conduct the qualifying examination for PhD candidates in the Department of Biomedical Sciences.
2. Procedure
2.1.1. Qualifying Examination Purpose, Format, Duration and Rigor
The purpose of the PhD qualifying examination is to demonstrate mastery of knowledge and skills in sub-disciplines consistent with the student’s area of enrolment and the Department of Biomedical Sciences areas of expertise.
The qualifying exam process will completed no later than the 3rd semester after commencement of full-time study for candidates who are registered in the PhD program. For candidates in part-time study, these durations increase by 50%.
The qualifying Examination Committee will consist primarily of 2 faculty from the candidate’s supervisory committee (excluding the supervisor/co-supervisor), 2 members of graduate faculty (one of whom must be from outside of the department) chosen by the
supervisory committee based on their expertise in the proposed research topic. The exam committee will be constituted at least 2 months before the examination date. The Examination Committee Chair will normally be a member of the Graduate Program
Committee or senior member of the departmental faculty with experience in graduate supervision and examination.
The chair serves to administer the examination according to the approved format of the program. The chair does not serves as an additional examiner. In unforeseen circumstances where a committee member is unable to attend, the chair will attempt to receive questions to ask on behalf of the absent member, to be answered by the student to the satisfaction of the examiners.
2.1.2 The examination will be composed of 3 parts: a written component, a public presentation followed immediately by an oral examination on the material presented in the written proposal.
Initially, the student shall propose a grant topic based on their approved research program or a related area of particular interest to them. They will then prepare a one page summary which will be reviewed, modified as necessary and ultimately approved by the
supervisory committee. All members of the examination committee shall evaluate this summary.
The grant should be written within a maximum of 8 weeks following approval of the 1 page summary. Students are not permitted to ask colleagues or faculty for feedback on the written document prior to submission for formal evaluation. The student can ask the GPA or chair of the examination for clarification and advice if needed. Any evidence of inappropriate, informal feedback on the grant proposal will result in immediate suspension of the examination until the process as outlined in UofG’s policy on academic dishonesty is completed.
The oral examination is to be conducted within 2 weeks of the grant submission to the Examination Committee. The duration of the oral examination is between 2-4 hours (2 rounds of questioning, second round in camera; 15 mins per examiner in round 1, and 10 mins per examiner in round 2). At the conclusion of ther oral exam and before deliberations begin, the supervisor will be invited by the Chair of the Examination committee to provide an evaluation of the quality of the student’s performance to date in research and of the student’s potential as a researcher. The examiners then vote on the oral examination and provide either an assessment of satisfactory or unsatisfactory with respect to the student’s overall performance in the entire examination. If there is more than one negative vote the student is considered to have failed the examination.
In the event that the student’s performance is deemed satisfactory, the chair of the exam committee may provide specific feedback and recommendations if difficiencies were noted in any of the 3 components of the QE. A copy of this repport will be provided to the student, the supervisor and the Chair of the GPC.
2.1.3 Re-Examination
In cases where the student is deemed to have failed in the written and/or defense portion of the examination, the student shall meet with the supervisor and/or supervisory committee, if possible within 1 week, for specific feedback (see below).
The student is to be re-examined within 8 weeks of a failed first attempt.  The Chair of the Examination Committee will prepare a written report outlining the deficiencies identified in the examination and suggestions for improvement, as well as the timeline for re-examination within one week of the the failed examination. This report is conveyed to the student, the Advisor and Advisory Committee, and the Chair of the Graduate Program Committee. The examination committee for the second attempt will normally be the same as for the first attempt under most circumstances.
A second failed examination attempt is reported to the Assistant Vice-President (Graduate Studies) and the student will be required to withdraw from the PhD program. Under specific circumstances, and in consultation with their advisory committee/supervisor, the student may change to and complete an MSc program, provided they do not currently hold an M.Sc.
For more information on Graduate Studies, please contact our Graduate Program Assistant

Graduate Programs Services
Stewart Building #45, Room 2509