University Qualifying Examination

University Qualifying Examination

   (a) Submission of Research Proposal; Written Examination

PhD students should complete the written and oral portion of the QE before the end of the 4th semester, unless justification warrants extension. The timeline of the major milestones is summarized in the attachment below:

A proposal related to the student’s field of research will need to be submitted to the Academic Programs Assistant no later than two weeks before the oral exam. The format of the proposal should be as follows: 

  1. Introduction - A literature review of the relevant information pertaining to the proposed research (max. 5 pages).
  2. Objectives and hypotheses - Clearly stated objectives and hypotheses
  3. Methodology - A succinct description of the experimental portion of the work. You are expected to understand well the methodologies discussed and the principles behind the use of the equipment (max. 6 pages).
  4. Results - Present and discuss preliminary results. Discuss relationship between these results and the stated objectives (max. 5 pages).
  5. Future Work - Outline the research required to complete the thesis. What experiments are required, how will they be performed, what information will be obtained and the relevancy of that information to achieve the objectives (max. 5 pages).
  6. Project time line – Provide a Gantt chart to summarize the major milestones (max. 1 page)
  7. References (max. 2 pages)    


   The format of the report is as follows:

  • Max. number of pages: 20 (excluding references & timeline)
  • Line spacing: 1.5
  • Font: Times New Roman
  • Minimum font size: 12
  • Include all figures and tables in the text


(b) Oral Examination

The PhD student will be asked to give a presentation (max. 30 min) to summarize the research proposal. The student may also present other supportive information that is not included in the proposal. Following the presentation, the examiners will take turns asking questions related to the information that the student presented, materials included in the research proposal, as well as other questions that may or may not be directly related to the proposal. The student will be evaluated on his/her ability to communicate effectively the scientific principles and put the proposed research into context with regard to food science and technology. At the end of the oral examination, the student will be asked to leave the room while the examination committee discusses the overall performance. Finally, a decision will be made on whether or not the student passes the qualifying exam.

The examination committee will be comprised of the chair, 2 Food Science faculty members external to the advisory committee, and 2 members from the advisory committee. Normally one member of the examination committee must be external to the Department of Food Science.

Students should consult their advisor and liaise with the Academic Programs Assistant to finalize the date of the oral examination as early as possible (see timeline on page 3).

In accordance with the PhD. Degree Regulations:

“The student is deemed to have passed the qualifying examination if not more than one of the examiners votes negatively. An abstention is regarded as a negative vote.”

“If unsatisfactory, the student may be given a second attempt at the examination. A student who fails the qualifying examination and who is being given a second opportunity to pass the examination will be required to repeat it no later than six months after the failed attempt. Academic units may impose a shorter time limit. A second failure constitutes a recommendation to the Board of Graduate Studies that the student be required to withdraw.”


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