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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:
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.
Two written exams and one oral exam will evaluate a student’s knowledge of theory, research, and statistical methodology as they relate to their program of study. One written exam is theory-based, and the other evaluates the student’s competency with research and statistical methodologies. The oral exam takes place after the successful completion of the written exams, and is an opportunity for students to clarify or expand on their written answers, and for faculty to encourage students to further elaborate on their responses.
Students and their academic advisor must identify three faculty members to serve on the candidacy examination committee by the start of their fifth semester (during year 3). The academic advisor will serve as chair of the examination committee and may also be one of the three individuals who administer the questions of the exam. 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. Students must complete a Candidacy Examinations Committee Form and submit it to the Communication Department’s Director of Graduate Studies.
Ideally, these exams will be administered over the course of the five-week winter session of the student’s third year of coursework. The timing of the exams are flexible and must be agreed upon by the student and their committee, with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. On the first day of the written exam, the student will be presented with a question (or a series of questions) relating their research content area to theory, broadly defined. Students will have two weeks to complete their response. The response must be of high quality, with the eventual goal for it to serve as the basis for the Literature Review chapter of the student’s dissertation.
Within the following three weeks, on a day and time agreed upon between the student and their academic advisor, the student will sit for an in-person, four hour written exam based upon research and statistical methodologies. It is recommended, though not required, that the student’s exam committee have representation of faculty members who have taught at least one of the research or statistical methodology courses the student had previously taken for the preparation of this portion of the exam. It is important that members of the committee have the background necessary to pose methodological questions for this portion of the exam.
It is up to the committee to determine exam questions, with any number of committee members collaborating on each of the two exams. The advisor should coordinate the writing of exam questions. Questions should be submitted by the committee to the Graduate Academic Program Coordinator, who will distribute them to the student.
Successful completion of the written exams is required prior to scheduling the oral exam, which should take place no later than three weeks after students are notified of their written exam results.
Students are required to pass all three candidacy examinations. Written exams must be passed before the oral exam takes place. The oral exam must also be successfully completed in order to apply for candidacy status.
Committee members have the following options in evaluating the exams:
Pass: Students may proceed to the next stage of their degree requirements.
Conditional Pass: If the examination committee determines that the 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 three 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 three 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 will be recommended for dismissal from the program.
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A student who has failed their candidacy exams can submit an appeal to the department’s appeals board. Written appeals from the student will be evaluated by the Department of Communication’s Graduate Committee. If members of the Graduate Committee are 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.
The student’s appeal must be submitted within ten days of their written notification of failing the exam; the Department Chair and the Director of Graduate Studies should be made aware that an appeal is forthcoming as soon as possible. The appeal should be in writing and must include the student’s answers to their exam questions as well as a clearly articulated explanation justifying why they believe they should have passed. If a reexamination was given, questions and answers for both sets of exams must be provided.
Upon notification of an appeal from the Department Chair and/or the Director of Graduate Studies, the student’s exam committee must provide the comments they made in response to the student’s answers and/or a general statement of why the student’s answers were unsatisfactory. The exam committee has ten days from the time of notification from the Department Chair and/or the Director of Graduate Studies to make this material available.
The appeals board will issue a written decision to the student, the exam committee, the Department Chair, and the Director of Graduate Studies within 10 days of receiving the full set of appeals material from the student and the committee.
After the departmental appeals process, if the student still receives a Failure on their Candidacy Exams, it will be recommended that the Graduate College dismiss the student. The student may then take advantage of the appeals process at the Graduate College.