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Graduate Student Resources

Graduate Student Handbook

Forms, Petitions and Procedures

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Ph.D. Qualifying Exams

Oral Exam Procedures

Once you have successfully passed your written qualifying exam, you may proceed with preparations for the oral exam.

Before the oral exam, prepare a proposal of your dissertation research, typically in the form of a grant proposal; the exact format should be agreed upon with your adviser. The proposal should be sent to your committee at least one week before the oral exam date in order to give committee members sufficient time to read it. You should also prepare a presentation of your proposed research as part of the exam. During the exam, committee members may ask you questions from your coursework, proposed research or knowledge common to your discipline.

At least two weeks before the exam is to take place, you or your adviser should fill out the Oral Examination Ballot Request Form. The form lists your committee for the exam and the date and time of the examination. The committee should consist of five members of the graduate faculty, including your adviser and one faculty member from outside the department. If the outside faculty member is from another university, approval must be obtained from the associate dean for graduate education in the College of Arts and Sciences; see below for details.

Ad Hoc Committee Members

Qualified faculty members from other institutions, non tenure-track faculty who have expertise not available within the graduate faculty and others who are not members of the graduate faculty of Saint Louis University, may be approved by the associate dean for graduate education of the College of Arts and Sciences on an ad hoc basis to serve on master's and Ph.D. oral and written examination committees, and on master's thesis and dissertation committees.

Such appointments may be requested by a letter from the department chair or the chair of your thesis or dissertation committee describing the individual's qualifications. The letter must be accompanied by the individual's curriculum vitae. The associate dean will report ad hoc appointments to the appropriate candidacy adviser in the office of graduate education; the report must include a copy of the appointee's CV.

Along with the Ballot Request Form, you should also include any graduate courses from other institutions that are to be formally a part of your Ph.D. program through the Evaluation of Advanced Standing Form.

The Ballot Request Form must be received in your candidacy adviser's office at least 10 business days before the oral examination.

When the oral exam notice is received in the candidacy adviser's office, a summary of your academic record is prepared and a list of remaining requirements is sent to you and your committee chairperson. At this time, the oral examination ballots are also sent to the chairperson of the committee. The oral examination should not take place without ballots from the candidacy adviser.

Application for Candidacy

When you receive notice from the associate vice president of graduate education that you have passed the oral examination, the you are eligible to request that the doctoral candidacy adviser prepare a candidacy packet by contacting 314-977-2243 or philipponerm@slu.edu.  

A candidacy packet consists of an application for candidacy, a dissertation/project proposal/prospectus, a copy of these candidacy procedures, a graduate education formatting directive, and a memo regarding the style manual requested by your major department.

If humans or animals are involved in your research, you must go through the Institutional Review Board (IRB) before you will be advanced to candidacy.  

Complete the application for candidacy and the project/dissertation proposal outline and have them signed by your major department chairperson and the chairperson of your minor field(s), if applicable.  

The proposal/prospectus must be signed by all members of the dissertation/project committee (the "readers"), and the major field chairperson, and constitutes a formal agreement between you and the major field that the topic and general approach are acceptable.  

The complete set of forms (the application for candidacy, the proposal/prospectus for the project/dissertation, and the page with signatures and IRB number) is returned to the candidacy adviser's office.

Advancement to Candidacy

When the completed proposal is submitted to and approved by the doctoral candidacy adviser and the doctoral committee is formalized, you are advanced to candidacy and will be notified by means of a letter, along with copies of the completed, signed candidacy application and the completed signature page of the proposal outline. These forms bear the date on which you were advanced to candidacy. Copies are also forwarded to the chair of the doctoral committee and to the major-field chairperson.

Note: All signatures on the proposal's signature page and the application for candidacy must be original, not faxed copies or photocopies.