Preliminary Exam Guidelines
1. Timing: ~12 months after matriculation (Aug/Sept at beginning of 2nd year). The specific date and departmental prelim examining committee for each year will be announced by July 15. This prelim date may be adjusted for MSTP students who may take it after their second rotation and having decided on a dissertation mentor.
2. Format: Students will be given three primary research articles (two weeks prior to the exam), and will be required to understand the relevant literature and experimental approaches described therein, as well as general biological concepts. The students will choose one paper (of the three) and prepare a 2-page proposal outline for future experiments (1-2 paragraphs Background & Significance, Statement of Hypothesis and Specific Aims, Description of 2-3 specific aims with subaims in bullet point format).
3. Students will complete a 1-1.5 hr oral exam to answer questions about general knowledge, the three papers and the student's proposal outline. An examining committee consisting of a limited number of faculty, including members of the Grad Studies Committee to ensure consistency as much as possible, will examine all students over a 1-2 day period. See additional information in Graduate Student Handbook.
4. Preliminary exam reports from examining committees will be communicated to the entire Grad Studies Committee. The Grad Studies Committee will evaluate students for advancement to candidacy with respect to Checkpoint 1, with all students meeting individually with the GSC Chair (or representative) to discuss strengths and weaknesses of academic performance. The GSC Chair will articulate expectations and requirements for academic success (lab productivity, mastery of dissertation topic, etc). Remediation options will be limited to cases with notable extenuating circumstances.