Graduate Program Frequently Asked Questions

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PhD Qualifying Exam Questions

WHEN SHOULD I TAKE THE PhD QUALIFYING EXAM?
Students who enter the program with a bachelor’s degree must complete the PhD Qualifying Exam within their first four semesters. Students who enter the program with a master’s degree must complete the PhD Qualifying Exam within their first three semesters at Iowa State.

Before taking the exam, students must have an adviser, chosen your two research area and two skills courses, performed research on a topic related to your research area and skills courses, and written a report on your research project before taking the PhD Qualifying Exam.

HOW DO I ARRANGE TO TAKE THE PhD QUALIFYING EXAM AND WHAT DOES THE EXAM INVOLVE?

  1. Coordinate with your adviser and research area group chair to schedule your oral presentation and oral exam.
  2. At least one week prior to your qualifying exam, provide your examining committee your written report and the list of your research area and skills courses.
  3. Prepare a presentation (30 minutes maximum) that covers a discussion of how the research you have conducted related to the research area and skills course, as well as a background of the literature.
  4. Be prepared to answer questions on your research project, literature related to your research, research area and skills courses related to your research, and other reasonable digressions. You may talk to your examining committee in advance to avoid surprises.