Qualifying Exam

A student becomes a Ph.D. candidate after successfully completing six quarters of course work and the Qualifying Examination. This is the last examination before a student begins dissertation research. This examination serves at least two purposes:

  • To acquaint faculty members with the research potential and interests of the student, and the student with the research interests of faculty members.
  • To determine whether the student can read and assimilate advanced material in a specialized field.

The Qualifying Examination is an oral examination. After the student has decided upon a field of interest, he/she asks a faculty member to chair a committee to conduct his/her Qualifying Examination. The chair, in consultation with the student, selects at least two other faculty members to comprise the committee. The committee members, in consultation with each other and the student, assign topics and a reading list to the student. The committee must be comprised of at least three faculty members, at least two of whom are NU graduate faculty.

Students preparing for the Qualifying Examination must submit for approval this qualifying examination form to the Graduate Program Assistant (Emily Green) at least three weeks prior to the exam date.

The Qualifying Examination must be taken by the end of the first quarter of a student's third year. Failure to pass the exam by the end of the third year may jeopardize financial support in the subsequent year.