Step 4: Preliminary Examination

Complete Preliminary Exam

Student and chair review eligibility requirements using the Preliminary Examination checklist—Completed several weeks prior to Preliminary Exam date. Checklist must be signed by Chair of the graduate student’s committee, URSC program coordinator and LAUP department head.

  1. Student checks the availability of committee members—Completed several weeks prior to preliminary exam date. 
  2. Student prepares and submits any petition found necessary by review of the eligibility requirements—Completed at least three weeks prior to proposed preliminary exam date. Approved by advisory committee, URSC program coordinator, department head and OGS. 
  3. When exam date is determined, the department will announce the schedule—as approved by the student’s chair, URSC program coordinator and department head. Take the preliminary exam—The Preliminary Examination is taken after the coursework is completed (or at least within 6 hours of completing coursework) and prior to the proposal defense.  The format the Preliminary Exam is determined by the graduate student advisory committee and agreed to by the student.  Typical formats include a) a 72 hour take home exam, b) an 8 hour sit down exam, or c) several exams in critical areas over a limited time period that  may be substituted for one single exam over a longer duration. Alternatively, the student's dossier may be submitted where considerable extant expertise warrants. The student must defend the preliminary exam response(s) to the satisfaction of her or his faculty advisory committee. The oral defense of the Preliminary Examination is scheduled through the OGS. The format of the oral defense of the preliminary exam is arranged with the student's graduate committee but is not to exceed two hours. 
  4. Chair submits the Report of the Preliminary Examination and the Preliminary Examination Checklist to OGS.
  5. OGS notifies the student and chair of any action necessary to rectify any deficiencies.

 

OGS Detailed Steps for Completing Preliminary Examination

1. Establish advisory committee. Submit a degree plan.
When:  Prior to the deadline set by the student’s college, and no later than 90 days prior to preliminary examination.
Approved by: Advisory committee, department or intercollegiate faculty chair, and Office of Graduate Studies (OGS).

2. Complete English language proficiency requirements (if applicable), and course work detailed on degree plan.
When:  Before Preliminary Examination.

3. Student and chair review eligibility requirements for the Preliminary Examination using the “Preliminary Examination Checklist.”
When:  Several weeks before the proposed date of the Preliminary Examination. Check list must be signed by chair and department head, or intercollegiate faculty chair.

4. Student checks the availability of committee members.
When:  Several weeks before the proposed date of the Preliminary Examination.

5. Student prepares and submits any petitions found necessary by the review of the eligibility requirements.
When:  At least three weeks before the proposed date of the Preliminary Examination.
Approved by: Advisory committee, department head or intercollegiate faculty chair, and OGS.

6. When exam date is determined, the department may announce the schedule.
Approved by: Committee Chair, department head or intercollegiate faculty chair.

7. Chair submits the Report of the Preliminary Examination and the Preliminary Examination Checklist to OGS.
When:  Within 10 working days of the date of the scheduled oral examination and no later than 14 weeks prior to the final defense date.
Approved by: Advisory

8. Office of Graduate Studies notifies the student and chair of any actions necessary to rectify any deficiencies.
When:  Upon receipt of the report of the doctoral Preliminary Examination.

 

OGS Preliminary Examination Requirements

The student’s major department (or chair of the intercollegiate faculty, if applicable) and his or her advisory committee may require qualifying, cumulative or other types of examinations at any time deemed desirable. These examinations are entirely at the discretion if the department and the student’s advisory committee.

The Preliminary Examination is required. The Preliminary Examination for a doctoral student shall be given no earlier than a date at which the student is within approximately 6 credit hours of completion of the formal course work on the degree plan (i.e., all course work on the degree plan except 681, 684, 690 and 692 courses). The student is strongly encouraged to complete the Preliminary Examination no later than the end of the semester following the completion of the formal course work on the degree plan. The Office of Graduate Studies must receive the results of the Preliminary Examination at least 14 weeks prior to the final examination date. The examination shall be oral and written unless otherwise recommended by the student’s advisory committee and approved by the Office if Graduate Studies. The written part of the examination will cover all fields of study included in the student’s degree plan. Each member of the advisory committee is responsible for administering a written examination in his or her particular field, unless he or she chooses to waive participation in this part of the examination. Two or more members of the advisory committee may give a joint written examination. One or more members may require a student to take a departmental or intercollegiate faculty examination to supplement or replace a written examination. Each written examination must be completed and reported as satisfactory to the chair of the advisory committee before the oral portion of the examination may be held. In case any written examination is reported unsatisfactory, the entire advisory committee must agree (1) to proceed with the oral portion of the Preliminary Examination, or (2) to adopt another course of action regarding the unsatisfactory written examination. Either procedure is subject to the approval of the Office of Graduate Studies.

Prior to scheduling the Preliminary Examination with the other committee members, the committee chair will review with the student eligibility criteria, using the Preliminary Examination Checklist to ensure the student is ready for the examination. The following list of eligibility requirements applies. 

    • The student is registered at Texas A&M University for the semester or summer term during which any portion of the Preliminary Examination may fall. If the entire examination falls between semesters, then the student must be registered for the term immediately preceding the examination.
    • An approved degree plan was on file with the Office of Graduate Studies at least 90 days prior to the first written examination.
    • The student’s cumulative GPR is at least 3.000.
    • The student’s degree plan GPR is at least 3.000.
    • All English language proficiency requirements have been satisfied.
    • All committee members have scheduled or waived the written portion and agreed to attend the oral portion of the examination or have found a substitute. Only one substitution is allowed and it cannot be for the committee chair.
    • At the end of the semester in which the exam is given, there are no more than 6 hours of course work remaining on the degree plan (except 681, 684, 690, 691 and 692). The head of the student’s department (or Chair of the Intercollegiate Faculty, if applicable) has the authority to approve a waiver of this criterion.
    • The time span from the first written examination to the oral is no more than three weeks. (In cases of department-wide written examinations, this criterion is not applicable.) The head of the student’s department (or chair of the intercollegiate faculty, if applicable) has the authority to approve a waiver of this criterion.

Once all requirements are met, departments or interdisciplinary degree programs may announce the schedule of the written and oral parts of the examination. 

The chair of the student’s advisory committee is responsible for making all written examinations available to the members of the advisory committee at or before the oral portion of the examination. A positive vote by all members of the graduate committee with at most one dissention is required to pass a student on his or her exam. A department or interdisciplinary degree program can have a stricter requirement provided there is consistency within all degree programs within a department or interdisciplinary program.

The chair of the advisory committee will report the results of the Preliminary Examination to the Office of Graduate Studies, using the Report of Doctoral Preliminary Exam form, and the Preliminary Examination checklist. Both forms must have appropriate signatures and should be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies within 10 working days of the scheduled examination.

After passing the required preliminary oral and written examinations for the doctoral degree, the student must complete all remaining requirements for the degree with four calendar years. Otherwise, the student will be required to repeat the Preliminary Examination.

A student who has failed the Preliminary Examination may be given one re-examination with the approval of the student’s advisory committee. Adequate time should be given to permit the student to address the inadequacies emerging for the first examination (normally six months). The student and the advisory committee should jointly negotiate a mutually acceptable date for this purpose.

A student must be registered at Texas A&M University for a minimum of one semester credit hour in the semester or summer term in which they will take any portion of the Preliminary Examination.