Oral Qualifying Examination

The Oral Qualifying Examination (OQE) is conducted by a committee of four members appointed by the Graduate Division. Three of the four OQE members, including the Chair, must be Core Faculty of the Comparative Biochemistry Graduate Group; the Chair and at least one of the two other “inside” members must be members of the Academic Senate. Non-Academic Senate members may serve as “inside” members of the OQE committee only with prior approval of the Dean of the Graduate Division. The fourth member must be an Academic Senate Member from outside the Group. If further expertise is desired, a member of the Group who is not an Academic Senate member may serve as an additional inside or fifth member of the committee without requiring approval from the Graduate Division. The student's research advisor cannot serve on the OQE.

Students should ascertain the availability of the proposed committee members to serve. Students must consult with the Head Graduate Advisor concerning the composition of this committee, and the Chair must sign the application to take the Oral Examination before submission to the Graduate Division. Students are expected to take the Oral Qualifying Exam by the end of their second year of graduate work. If the student fails the Qualifying Exam, the examination committee may, under special circumstances, decide to request permission from the Dean of the Graduate Division to re-examine the student at a later date.


The Oral Qualifying Exam enables the Committee to determine the student’s understanding of and ability to think critically about both the theoretical and practical applications of biochemical and molecular research within the biological sciences. The exam is meant to showcase the student’s ability to apply this knowledge to the area of his or her current research and also to related fields. The student is expected to demonstrate breadth and depth of knowledge in at least three distinct subject areas. Students are expected to present a topic for their dissertation as part of the exam, but the exam must not be limited to that topic.

During the course of the OQE, the student is expected to (1) to present a summary of his/her dissertation research project , (2) to defend a research proposal on a topic outside the area of the student's own research, and (3) to display a comprehensive understanding of the principles of Comparative Biochemistry in the general portion of the exam. The outside proposal should be concise, original, and feasible; and should contain: a) sufficient background information to define the problem, b) a description of experiments designed to solve the problem, and c) a discussion of how these experiments would advance the field. Proposed topics should be discussed with the committee chairman and/or the relevant members of the orals committee before the formal preparation of the proposal begins. Both the dissertation research summary and the outside proposal should be submitted in written form to members of the committee at least two weeks before the date of the examination.


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