Graduate Program - Appendix A

GUIDELINES AND CHECKLIST FOR COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION

  1. Students are eligible for the comprehensive examination when they have met the following requirements:
    1. Completed all core courses.
    2. Completed the Research Skills and Ethics requirements.
    3. Completed their lab rotations and selected a research mentor.
    4. The student's grade point average must be 3.00 or better.

    This normally occurs at the end of their second year or the beginning of their third year of studies
    timeline
  2. An examination committee must be organized and approved by the graduate studies committee. The exam committee must have five members consisting of at least 3 members from the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology. University policy requires that one member must be from outside the department. University policy requires that one member must be from outside the department (but must have a primary appointment at KUMC). The fifth member may be from either the department or from another department. The chair of the committee will be a member of the department graduate studies committee and will be chosen by the graduate studies committee. The student's research mentor will be a member of the examination committee, but cannot be the committee chair. Therefore, the student and his/her mentor will select the three additional members, including one or two from outside the department. The graduate studies committee must approve the composition of the committee. The examination committee chair will run the examination and will be responsible to make sure the department and Office of Graduate Studies rules and policies are followed.
  3. The mentor and student develop an outline of an NIH-style proposal (Specific Aims and Methods section; do not do budget pages etc.) which they present to the examination committee for their approval. The topic of this proposal is typically related to their area of research interest, but is not restricted to this area. If the committee approves the proposal outline, the student then begins to work on this proposal with the input of his/her mentor. View the current Outline for Comprehensive Exam for more details.
  4. When the proposal is completed it is given to the committee members with sufficient time (by agreement of the committee members, usually about 1 month prior to the scheduled examination) for their review and any input prior to the comprehensive examination. The committee may require you to respond in writing to questions based on the material in your grant proposal. Acceptance of the proposal in final form by the committee will lead to your University-required oral candidacy examination. At least two weeks prior to the scheduled date of the comprehensive examination, a Progress To Degree online form must be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies for their approval. The Progress To Degree online form indicates that this is a request for a comprehensive examination on a specific date and indicates who is on the committee (Chair and members) and how the FLORS requirement was met. The room for the examination should be reserved at this time.
  5. The student's mentor and the student will carry out the following procedures. At least one week prior to the date of the comprehensive examination, two copies of the NIH proposal are given to the Director of Graduate Studies. One copy will be placed in the student's file and the other copy will be placed in the department conference room for review by the faculty of the department. At least one week before the examination, the student and student's mentor will send out an announcement of the scheduled Comprehensive Examination to the department's faculty and copies should be posted around the department. All faculty members are invited to sit in on the examination and ask questions, but only the comprehensive examination committee will vote on the performance of the student.
  6. The Comprehensive examination is a test of the breadth and depth of the student's understanding of: 1) the department's core courses; 2) the student's elective courses; and 3) their research area (cell biology, neurobiology, etc. as reflected by the student's NIH proposal). It is designed to be a rigorous evaluation of the student's knowledge base in the biological sciences and should be treated as such. Students are expected to have acquired a sufficient understanding of the fundamentals and details of the biological sciences to function as a Doctoral Candidate after the examination and to carry out their research project. It is the responsibility of the Chair of the Comprehensive Examination committee to see to it that proper procedures are followed in regards to execution of this Comprehensive Examination. These responsibilities include: 1) following all procedures required by the department and University; and 2) seeing to it that a rigorous examination is executed by the committee.
  7. After the examination is completed (they are usually scheduled for 3 hr), all faculty who are not on the committee and the student being examined are asked to leave the room. A discussion of the student's performance will be carried out by the committee. Each committee member will then submit an oral or written score (Pass or Fail) to the Chair. Further discussion of any student deficiencies will be carried out at this time. After discussion, the committee will make a final decision by simple
    majority vote to: 
    1. Fail the student based on a deficiency in any core course area, their elective course areas, or their research area. In this case the committee may:
      1. decide to not allow the student to repeat the examination and the student will be terminated from the program. The committee may recommend to the department graduate committee that the student may qualify for a master's degree after completion of the requirements for that degree.
      2. allow repeating the exam, the earliest being 90 days after the failure. The student will be counseled as to what areas need to be strengthened before the exam is rescheduled.
    2. Pass a student, but require that the student make up deficiencies through further course work or special study. Any further study by the student as recommended by the exam committee will be directed by the Chair of the comprehensive examination committee and the Mentor. As indicated, this can be in the form of additional course work or in advanced readings courses.
  8. The Progress to Degree (PTD) online form will be completed by the Committee Chair or Graduate Education Director to convey the results of the examination to
    the Office of Graduate Studies.
  9. The Research Committee (later to serve as the Defense Examination Committee) will be selected after the student has passed the Comprehensive Examination. The Research Committee can be the same or different than the Comprehensive Committee. The Research Committee is chaired by the student's Mentor, and must have at least four other members. The Mentor (Chairperson of the Committee) and student will select the members with the approval of the Department Graduate Studies Committee. University policy requires that one member must be from outside the department, but must have his/her primary appointment at KUMC. This "outside" person is the Graduate School's representative and sees to it that all University policies are followed. The committee will meet with the student soon after the comprehensive examination to approve the dissertation research project and be informed of any progress that has been made. Normally the committee meets every 6 months during the research phase of the student's graduate training, and progress reports are made to the graduate studies committee as detailed above.

Last modified: Oct 26, 2012
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