Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations

After completion of course work, Ph.D. students will ordinarily take no more than one semester to prepare for written and oral qualifying examinations. Qualifying examinations will cover three areas:  1) humanism, the humanities, and medical humanities; 2) a major area of specialization; and 3) a minor area of specialization. Students not declaring major and minor areas formally will still be tested in these areas.  The latter two test areas will address the principal focus of the student’s scholarly interests and respectively, the secondary focus of interest.  The specific of these test areas will be determined by the student’s dissertation committee.  Preparation for the examinations will involve constructing (with supervision of the advisor, area-of-specialization coordinators, and medical humanities faculty) and mastering bibliographies of relevant readings. The written examination will consist of five questions to be answered in five days:  two questions from course work and reading in the major area of specialization; one question from course work and reading in the minor area; one question covering humanism, the humanities, and the medical humanities; and one question covering a specific area of interest, practice, or research. 

Within three weeks of a student’s completing his or her written examination, the examination committee will review it and determine whether the answers are satisfactory. If so, the advisor will then schedule the oral qualifying examination. The oral examination, which will be announced and open to all members of the IMH faculty, will test the student's skills in dealing with concrete practical issues in medical humanities, research, education, or clinical ethics. It will also probe the student's perceived areas of strength and weakness, while engaging issues of major interest to the student.

After the oral examination, the student will receive one of four possible grades: Pass with Distinction, Pass, Conditional Pass, Fail.  A conditional pass means that the answer to one question is not yet adequate; at the discretion of the faculty member who asked it, in consultation with the entire committee, the student may be required to rewrite the answer to that question or to undertake specific remedial work. Unsatisfactory performance on two questions constitutes a failure of the qualifying examinations. A student who has failed the examinations does not have the option of rewriting either of the answers.

Beginning in July 2008, each committee member must submit a completed evaluation form for the written qualifying examination and also for the oral qualifying examination.  These completed forms should be turned in to the graduate program coordinator immediately after the oral examination.  They are a requirement of the SACS accreditation review of UTMB in 2008.

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