REG 02.25.04 – Graduate Examinations

REG 02.25.04 – Graduate Examinations

Authority: Dean of the Graduate School

History: First Issued: June 1, 2002.  Last Revised: November 29, 2011.

Related Policies:
NCSU REG11.40.01 – Grievance Procedure for Undergraduate Students
NCSU REG11.40.02 – Grievance Procedure for Graduate Students

Additional References:  
Graduate Administrative Handbook 3.6

Request for a Permit to Schedule the Master’s Oral Examination

Request to Schedule the Doctoral Oral Examination

Schedule of Required Documents

Contact Info: Dean of the Graduate School (919-515-7956)


1.  SCHEDULING ORAL EXAMINATIONS

1.1  Master’s students

Master’s students schedule their oral examinations in consultation with their advisory committees.  To do this, students must submit to the Graduate School a Request for a Permit to Schedule the Master’s Oral Examination 10 working days prior to the date of the examination after approval from his/her Director of Graduate Programs (DGP).

1.2  Doctoral students

It is the responsibility of the doctoral student to contact committee members and the previously appointed Graduate School Representative to establish a date and time convenient to each before officially requesting that the examination be scheduled.  The student must also provide the Representative with a copy of the dissertation at least one week before the final examination.

2.  MASTER’S DEGREE

2.1  Written examinations

The degree program may require written examinations covering the subject matter of the major and the minor in which the student is enrolled.  When required, such examinations must be successfully completed prior to the Request for a Permit to Schedule the Master’s Oral Examination.  Information concerning written examination schedules may be obtained from the student’s program.

2.2  Oral examinations

2.2.1  Format of the exam

2.2.1.1  Candidates for master’s degrees, except those in Option B programs, must pass a comprehensive oral examination to demonstrate to the advisory committee that he/she possesses a reasonable mastery of the subject matter of the major and minor fields and that this knowledge can be used with promptness and accuracy.

2.2.1.2  This exam takes the form of a traditional defense of the thesis in those programs requiring theses.  This examination may not be held until all other requirements, except completion of the course work taken during the final semester, are satisfied.  After obtaining DGP approval, a student must file a Request for a Permit to Schedule the Master’s Oral Examination with the Dean of the Graduate School only after the above conditions are met.

2.2.2  Passing the oral examination

2.2.2.1  Within five working days of completing the exam, the student’s DGP must forward a permit form that displays the date the exam was conducted, the result of the examination, and the signatures of all advisory committee members to the Dean of the Graduate School.  A unanimous vote of approval of the advisory committee is required for passing the oral examination.

2.2.2.2  “Conditional Pass”

Students may get a “conditional pass” contingent upon completion of additional work to the satisfaction of the advisory committee.  A formal re-examination will not be required in this case.  The DGP must notify the Graduate School when the conditions of the pass have been removed.

2.2.3  Failure to pass the oral examination

Failure of a student to pass the oral examination terminates the student’s graduate work at NC State unless the graduate advisory committee unanimously recommends a re-examination.  The DGP then submits the request to the Graduate School for approval of the re-examination.  Only one re-examination may be given.  If the Graduate School denies the request, the student’s program is terminated.  Students may appeal all committee actions according to the provisions in NCSU REG11.40.02 – Grievance Procedure for Graduate Students.

3.  DOCTORAL DEGREE

3.1  Preliminary examinations

Each doctoral student is required to take preliminary examinations, consisting of written examinations and an oral examination, no earlier than the end of the second year of graduate study and not later than four calendar months before the final oral examination.

3.1.1  Written Exam

3.1.1.1  Format of the exam

The written portion of the examination may be conducted in one of two ways:

3.1.1.1a  Each member of the advisory committee prepares a set of questions for the student’s response, and the answers to each set are returned to the appropriate faculty member for grading.  The professor decides on the specific format of this exam.

3.1.1.1b  Standardized departmental examinations may be used for all students in a program.  These examinations are given at specified times during the year, and scheduled dates are announced well in advance.  Where written departmental examinations of this kind are used, the student will be expected to make arrangements to schedule these examinations.

3.1.1.1c  Committee members must notify the DGP when a student has completed and passed the written examination.

3.1.1.2  Written examinations in the minor field

Requirements for written examinations in the minor field are left to the discretion of the program in which the student is minoring.

3.1.1.3  Failure to pass the written examination

Failure to pass the written portion terminates the student’s work at this institution, subject to departmental and/or school/college policies with respect to re-examination.

3.1.2  Preliminary oral examinations

With approval from the DGP, upon satisfactory completion of the written portion of the preliminary examinations and after completion of all course work relevant to the examination, the student must submit a Request to Schedule the Doctoral Oral Examination, indicating that he/she wishes to schedule the oral examination.

3.1.2.1 Passing oral examinations

A unanimous vote of approval by the members of the advisory committee is required for the student to pass the preliminary oral examination.  Approval may be conditioned, however, on the successful completion of additional work in some particular field(s).  Students may appeal all committee actions according to the provisions in NCSU REG11.40.02 – Grievance Procedure for Graduate Students.

3.1.2.2  Failure to pass the oral examinations

Failure to pass the preliminary oral examination terminates the student’s work at this institution unless the examining committee recommends a re-examination.  No re-examination may be given until at least one full semester has elapsed, and only one re-examination is permitted in a given doctoral program.

3.2  Candidacy

A doctoral student is admitted to candidacy by the Graduate School upon passing the preliminary examinations.  This does not include students receiving a “conditional pass.”

3.3  Final Oral Examinations

3.3.1  As with the preliminary oral examination, the chair of the student’s advisory committee is in charge of conducting the final oral examination.  The student, through the DGP, submits a Request to Schedule the Doctoral Oral Examination, indicating that he/she wishes to schedule the final oral examination.

3.3.2  The final oral examination is scheduled after the dissertation is complete except for such revisions as may be necessary as a result of the examination, but not earlier than four calendar months after admission to candidacy and not before all required course work has been completed or is currently in progress.

3.3.2.1  Though the format of the doctoral examination may vary according to the culture of individual graduate programs, all examinations include three elements:

3.3.2.1a  Presentation by the candidate.  The candidate typically presents the methodology used, the data collected, and the conclusions reached as reported in the dissertation.  For the purpose of dissemination of research, it is required that the presentation of the dissertation be open to the university community.

3.3.2.1b  Questioning of the candidate.  Any member of the university community is allowed to ask questions of the candidate.  If the need arises, graduate faculty members not on the advisory committee may meet in a restricted session after the presentation to ask additional questions of the student and express any concerns they have to the committee and student.  The questioning phase may continue with a closed session in which the advisory committee questions the candidate.

3.3.2.1c  Deliberation and decision.  Only the advisory committee and the Graduate School representative, if one has been appointed, are present.

Throughout the process, the chair of the candidate’s advisory committee has the obligation to maintain a scholarly atmosphere and to keep academic integrity and the student’s best interest foremost.

3.3.2.2  Passing the final oral examination

A unanimous vote of approval of the advisory committee is required for passing the final oral examination.  Approval may be conditioned, however, on the student’s meeting specific requirements prescribed by the student’s advisory committee.

3.3.2.3  Failure to pass the final oral examination

Failure of a student to pass the examination terminates his or her work at this institution unless the advisory committee recommends a re-examination.  No re-examination may be given until one full semester has elapsed and only one re-examination is permitted.

4.  REMOTE ORAL EXAMS

It is expected that oral examinations be conducted with all parties in the same room; however, it is recognized that circumstances may prevent this from happening.  While technology can provide solutions for such situations, it should never be the case that remote exams are held simply as a matter of convenience.

4.1  It is the responsibility of the chair (or co-chairs) of the committee to maintain the academic integrity of the exam and ensure that the requirements outlined above are followed.  The technology used shall allow all parties to interact to the extent necessary to accomplish this.  Failure of the technology during the exam will require that the exam be suspended until it is in functioning order or the exam will be rescheduled for a later time.

4.2  It is the responsibility of the Director of Graduate Programs to ensure that the reasons for a remote exam are valid, and to submit a request to conduct the exam to The Graduate School, in conjunction with the Request for a Permit to Schedule the Master’s Oral Examination or Request to Schedule the Doctoral Oral Examination.