Oral Exam

Tier 3: Oral exam

After passing the Tier 2 review, a student must arrange and pass an oral examination before October of his or her fourth year. The student will seek the direction of a faculty member as a scientific advisor for this exam. The faculty member will assign a reading list consisting of texts and research-level papers; this material will comprise the major topic of the exam. If and when the scientific advisor feels the student is ready for the exam, the advisor will arrange for a three-member faculty committee to administer the exam.

The student will submit for approval a proposal for the Tier 3 exam to the director of graduate studies, consisting of topics for the major and minor area of the examination, a syllabus and a reading list for the major and minor topic, and the list of three faculty members serving as the Tier 3 committee.

These exams are projected to last approximately two hours, and one of the committee members must be qualified to examine the student in the minor area, where the student must demonstrate 500-level mastery. In order to pass the exam, the student must:

  1. Demonstrate a level of mathematical ability and maturity sufficient for successfully undertaking a Ph.D. dissertation (normally in the major area of the exam), and
  2. Identify a faculty member willing to serve as Ph.D. advisor. This will typically, but not necessarily, be the faculty member who organized the exam.