Ph.D. Exam Sequence
20 May 2011
Last Updated on Saturday, 12 May 2012 22:28
Exam Sequence in the Chemistry Ph.D. Program at UTEP
- Placement Exams (everybody)
- Cumulative Exams (students who want to or may want to obtain a Ph.D. in chemistry)
- Comprehensive Exam (Ph.D. students)
- Ph.D. Defense (Ph.D. students)
Five placement exams in the area of organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry,biochemistry, analytical chemistry, and physical chemistry must be taken by any student admitted to the graduate program, see detailed description of the placement exams. Students admitted in the fall semester must take placement exams in August of the same year before classes start. Students admitted in the spring semester must take placement exams in January of the same year before classes start. The placement exams will be held on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in the week before classes start. If a student fails more than two exams, the departmental graduate advisor will makerecommendations to remediate deficiencies. Usually, the student will take a remedial course in the area of deficiency. The student must receive an A or a B as a passing grade in order to eliminate the deficiency. The student may also retake the placement exam in the area of deficiency in the next semester. Students must comply with the advise of the Department with regard to rectifying deficiencies as indicated by their performance in the placement exam. In addition, if the student’s committee feels that the student has a deficiency in a particular area important for the student’s success in graduate school, it is at the discretion of the committee to require the student to take other remedial actions. All deficiencies must be eliminated within two semesters of admission into the graduate program. If the deficiencies are not removed within two semesters, the student cannot stay in the chemistry graduate program.
2. Cumulative Exams (“Cumes”)
In order to continue their education in the Ph.D. program students must pass a minimum of five cumes out of twenty. Students in the M.S. program are also highly encouraged to take cumes, as it may facilitate the potential switching into the chemistry Ph.D. program at a later time. Every semester five cumes will be offered on a Saturday, one in each of the five areas (inorganic, organic, physical, analytical, and biochemistry). Cume questions will be based on the current literature, and the underlying literature references will be disclosed three days before the cume exam by a faculty member. The cume exams will be proctored by a faculty member in charge. Students start taking cumes in their second semester, and must have passed at least five by the end of their fifth semester. If a student is unable to pass at least five cumes within four semesters the student cannot continue his/her education in the chemistry Ph.D. program. However, the student will be given the option to continue his/her education in the chemistry M.S. program.
3. Comprehensive Exam
The purpose of this exam is to determine whether or not the student has made adequate progress towards completion of their dissertation. The student must also demonstrate the ability to develop original scientific ideas. The comprehensive exam is administered to the students in their 3rd year by their dissertation committee. This exam consists of two parts: a) presentation of the student’s research project and progress made thus far; and b) presentation of a research proposal that must be different from the student’s research project. The student provides all committee members with a written version of both parts at least 10 days in advance. After the student’s presentations, the committee examines the student. The student will either pass, receive a conditional pass, or will repeat the entire exam after a time period to be determined by the committee.
4. Ph.D. Defense
The Ph.D. candidate provides all committee members with his/her dissertation at least two weeks prior to the defense. The candidate arranges for the time and location of the defense. The first part of the defense is open to the public. The candidate presents his/her research project including an overview of the research area (~15 min) and his/her specific research accomplishments (30 – 40 min). The presentation should be completed within 45-55 min. After a general discussion open to the public, the candidate will be examined in private by the committee. The candidate is then excused, and the committee will make a decision on the Ph.D. defense.