Qualifying Exam Steps

Step 1:  Identifying the QE Committee and Chair

The student will need to identify who will be on the Qualifying Exam Committee and who the Chair will be.  For details on who is part of a Qualifying Exam Committee and the roles of individuals click here and read the section under “Qualifying Examination Committee.”  Additional information on forming a Qualifying Exam Committee more specific to the Rhetoric department can be found here on page 2 under “Identify PhD Examination Committee.”

Step 2: Schedule the Qualifying Exam 

The student should confer with the chair of the Qualifying Exam Committee when prepared to set the date of the examination. The student should begin this consultation well in advance of the planned exam date to ensure the availability of the examination committee and approval of the examination application by the Graduate Division. (During COVID-19 Zoom Qualifying Exams are being conducted, see link for guidelines on remote Qualifying Exams The student will be responsible for coordinating with the QE committee to schedule time and place.)

Step 3: Student Submits eForm to Apply for the Qualifying Exam 

The student will need to submit the eForm to Apply for the QE on CalCentral, click here for a tutorial on how to submit this form. The student must do so no later than three weeks before the examination date, to allow the Graduate Division time to review and approve the application. 

Step 3A (Due to COVID-19): Student Prepares Memo for Remote QE

Grad Div has approved a blanket exception to the policy to allow all members of a qualifying exam committee to participate via Zoom or other video conferencing software. The student must prepare a memo requesting an exception for an all-remote examination and documenting how the exam will be conducted (where members will be located and any other relevant information about logistics).  Once the student has gathered this information from their committee, they will submit the memo to the Head Graduate Adviser for signature. The GSAO will then submit the memo on behalf of the student. The memo must acknowledge that the remote member(s) will be audible, present for the entire exam (not just their subject) and will deliberate and vote with other members following the exam. Here is a template that can be used for students:  “Professor X will be home while sheltering in place in compliance with State and University mandates and intends to participate for the entire exam including deliberation.”

Step 4: Circulate QE Statements to QE Committee

QE statements must be circulated to the entire committee no later than 3 weeks in advance of the oral exam. Each examiner must sign off on a final version of the statement that they are individually supervising. It is recommended that the statements be completed and approved for circulation on a staggered schedule as the three-week date approaches. The student will circulate approved final QE statements to the committee, ideally in both .docx and PDF formats to accommodate different examiners’ preferences.  A folder in Google Docs or in Box is an effective method for depositing and circulating documents. (Be sure to set sharing permissions.) The links to these folders or the files themselves can then be circulated to the committee. No changes are permitted once the statements have been circulated.

Step 5: Results Reported to the GSAO by Committee and Chair 

Once the student has completed the exam, the Committee Chair and Committee Members should provide results to the GSAO within 48 hours of the examination.  During COVID-19 the Chair can send out an email to the committee members asking for their decision (Pass/Fail) that the GSAO is CC’d on.  Usually, these are physical signatures, but for now email threads from each committee member with their final decision will suffice as evidence of approval or denial. The GSAO will then upload the committee’s responses to CalCentral.

Step 6: Advancing to Candidacy

Once the student has passed their Qualifying Exam, then they will submit the “Application for Candidacy to the Doctoral Degree” form on CalCentral, and pay the $90 Advancement to Candidacy Fee. In this form, the student will need to choose their Dissertation Committee, however this can be changed after submission. The Head Graduate Adviser of the student’s major, the Chair of the Dissertation Committee, and, if applicable, the Head Graduate Adviser of the Designated Emphasis, must sign this form. For help on how to update the dissertation committee after advancing to candidacy click here to view a how-to video.