Students will write dissertation proposals beginning in the spring of the 2nd year. These proposals will outline the research plan and be written in cooperation with the dissertation advisor. The format must follow that of the current NIH format for R01 applications.  An example of a successful application can be found here   Successful NIH R01 application

The qualifying examination must be completed by October 15th in the fall of the 3rd year and must adhere to the following schedule that covers ~3 weeks (see timeline below):

1) The dissertation proposal will be distributed to the advisory committee 2 weeks prior to an initial meeting. Also due at this time are three abstracts that describe potential topics for the mock proposal.

2) At this first meeting, the committee will approve the topic and content of the dissertation proposal to ensure it is appropriate for PhD level research. The advisory committee then will assign the topic for the mock proposal selected from the three abstracts. Mock proposals should be no more than 7 single spaced pages excluding references, and will follow the dissertation proposal format. Mock proposals are due to the committee within 2 weeks following topic approval. These proposals are to be written independently of the advisor or other faculty.

3) One week following the distribution of the mock proposal to the committee, students will present a public seminar on their dissertation work. This presentation will be followed by an oral examination by the advisory committee on subjects covering both dissertation and mock proposals, and general knowledge relevant to the program.

The Graduate Core Committee in cooperation with the advisor and Department Head will determine whether reasons for delay beyond October 15th are acceptable.

Each part of the exam will be evaluated by the advisory committee. Students may pass the exam, fail the exam entirely, or be required to retake one or more components.  Repeated examinations must be completed by the end of the fall semester of the 3rd year. 


Examination time-line

PHD Schedule