MIC Qualifying Exam

Toward the end of the second year, each student must prepare a written document and orally defend a detailed dissertation research proposal in the form of a “qualifying exam.” Ph.D. candidates are required to successfully prepare and defend the proposal before July 1st of the second year in order to remain in good standing as a Ph.D. candidate, and to continue receiving financial support from the Department. MSTP students are required to successfully prepare and defend the proposal before Oct. 1st of the second grad-year. One of the faculty with a primary microbiology appointment (not your mentor) should serve as the chairperson or first-reader of the committee. The student’s mentor will be an essentially silent member of the committee during the oral defense of the qualifying exam.

It is not uncommon for a qualifying exam (dissertation) proposal to require revision, and perhaps a second committee meeting, before a student is passed into candidacy. Any need for revision is considered a “qualified pass”. Successful completion of the qualifying exam and any revisions allows the student to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Those not admitted to candidacy may, on approval of the faculty, be permitted to complete the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Biological and Physical Science.

More information about the Qualifying Exam process may be found HERE.


An extension to the completion date of the Qualifying Exam may under extenuating circumstances be granted upon written request of the MIC Academic Advisory Committee. Extensions must be requested no later than May 31st.