Candidacy Exam

The ENSS doctoral program has been designed so that the student is exposed to a breadth of knowledge through the program core and a depth of knowledge through the track core. The candidacy exam includes a written and an oral component. The written component will test the student on the fundamentals of the student’s knowledge at the advanced undergraduate level, whereas the oral component will test the student’s ability to conduct research in his/her area of interest. The following candidacy exam structure is followed:

  1. The student can take the candidacy exam no sooner than the second semester he/she is in the program and no later than the third semester he/she is in the program.
  2. The student will have to officially declare his/her intention to take the candidacy exam by the end of the semester prior to the semester in which he/she will take the exams for the first time.
  3. The student will have to attempt both components in the same semester, and will need to pass each of the components separately. If the student fails to pass one or more components in the first attempt, he/she will have to retake those components in the next semester. Failure to pass the exam in two attempts will result in dismissal from the program, pending review by the ENSSGC. This review will be completed and a decision conveyed to the student by the end of the academic year when he/she has taken the exam.
  4. A sample written exam for each track and a sample research topic for the oral exam will be on file with the Graduate Coordinator. The students will have access to the sample exam for the purposes of familiarizing themselves with the written component of the candidacy exam.

Written Component

  1. The written exam for each track will be one 4-hour exam, and there will be only one exam for each track.
  2. The syllabus of the written exam will be identical for the Fall and Spring semester exams in a given academic year, and will be published at the beginning of the Spring semester of the prior academic year. The study materials for each track will also be recommended.
  3. The student will have passed the exam if her/his overall grade in the written exam is 70% or higher.

Oral Component

  1. The oral exam for each student taking the exam will be of 1-hour duration.
  2. Student will be given a research topic on which to submit a written report. This report shall be submitted no later than one month from the date the student was assigned the topic.
  3. The student will be provided with a template. The same template will be used for all the tracks. The submitted report will have to adhere to the guidelines of the template.
  4. Using the written report as the basis, the student will be orally tested by the Track Candidacy Exam Committee. The oral exam will be scheduled no earlier than two weeks after the student has submitted the report.
  5. Decisions of the Track Candidacy Exam Committee will be supported by a minimum of 2/3 majority of the committee members present and will be any one of the following:
    1. Pass
    2. Pass with remedial course work
    3. Fail; in this case, the student will retake the oral component in the next semester on the same research topic; a new report will have to be submitted by the student prior to retaking the oral exam.

Track Candidacy Exam Committee

Four Track Candidacy Exam Committees corresponding to the four ENSS tracks will be constituted as follows:

  • A candidacy exam committee for an academic year will be constituted for each ENSS track. The committee for each track will consist of at least five members, and may have no more than two members from any other track. The committee will be chaired by the Track Coordinator.
  • The constituency of the committee for an academic year will be published by the end of the Spring semester of the prior academic year.
  • The committee will administer the written component of the candidacy exam. The committee will assign an examiner for each question, ensuring as even a grading load as possible.
  • The committee will administer the oral component of the candidacy exam.