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Candidacy Exams

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Upon the recommendation of the doctoral student's dissertation committee and the Department of Communication's Director of Graduate Studies, students may be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. The stipulations for admission to doctoral candidacy are that the student has:

  1. Had a program of study approved and course work completed
  2. Completed one academic year of full-time graduate study in resident at the University of Delaware
  3. Successfully completed candidacy examinations
  4. Had a dissertation proposal accepted by their dissertation committee
  5. If the dissertation requires human participants, received approval by the Institutional Review Board.

The deadline for admission to candidacy for the fall semester is August 31. The deadline for admission to candidacy for the spring semester is January 31. Responsibility for seeing that admission to candidacy is secured at the proper time rests with the student.

Candidacy Examinations

Written and oral comprehensive candidacy examinations will evaluate a student's knowledge in three areas of content at completion of all course work. These areas are communication theory, research methods and analysis, and area of concentration. Students will be required to identify three faculty members to serve on their candidacy examination committee with the assistance of the student's academic advisor by the start of their sixth semester. One faculty member will be responsible for administering the exam for only one of the three content areas.

The academic advisor will serve as chair of the examination committee and may be one of the three individuals who administer the questions for one of the exam's content areas. All other faculty members of the examination committee must be approved by the student's academic advisor and be a member of the Department of Communication's approved Ph.D. faculty. The committee will include representation of faculty members who have taught the required content areas being tested. Students must complete a Candidacy Examinations Committee Form and submit it to the Department of Communication's Director of Graduate Studies

These exams will be offered over three nonconsecutive days with each day's examination lasting four hours. Successful completion of the written examination is required prior to scheduling the oral defense. Students are required to pass candidacy examinations. The results of this examination will be one of the following:

  • Pass: Students may proceed to the next stage of their degree requirements.
  • Conditional Pass: If the examination committee determines that they student's performance was generally acceptable but with a specific deficiency, condition(s) will be specified that the student must satisfy to achieve a pass and remain in the program. These conditions may include re-examination of one or more question areas to be completed within 3 months. 
  • Re-examination: This result is appropriate for a student whose performance was unsatisfactory but who displayed evidence of the potential to complete doctoral degree education. Re-examination must be completed within 3 months. The possible outcomes of this re-examination are pass or failure. The student may not take the exams a third time. The advisor and examination committee will determine on a case by case basis the composition of re-examinations. 
  • Failure: This result indicates that the student is not capable of completing the requirements for the doctoral degree and the student would be recommended for dismissal from the program

Students may appeal the decision based upon the comments received about the student's exam answers from candidacy exam committee members. Written appeals from the student will be evaluated by the Department of Communication's Graduate Committee. If members of the Graduate Committee were also members of the student's candidacy exam committee other members of the Department of Communication's Ph.D. faculty may serve on the appeals board. A minimum of three faculty members are required to serve on the appeals board.


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