IV. Degree Regulations

Doctor of Philosophy

Qualifying Examination

As early as possible and in no case later than the final semester of the minimum duration requirement, the student is required to pass an examination to assess his or her knowledge of the subject area and related fields. The examination ordinarily will be in several parts (written and/or oral) and should be completed within a two-week period if possible.

The qualifying examination is an examination by the academic unit in which the student is enrolled (as distinct from an examination by the advisory committee). Upon completing it satisfactorily, the student is deemed to have met the departmental standards and becomes a candidate for the PhD degree. The examining committee, appointed by the chair or director of the academic unit concerned, consists of five members:

  • The chair/director of the academic unit (or designate) or the chair of the graduate studies committee, who acts as chair of the examination committee except when this person is also chair of the advisory committee. In that event, the chair will designate another member of the regular graduate faculty of the unit to chair the examination;

  • Two members, normally of the regular or associated graduate faculty who are not members of the advisory committee, in addition to the chair;

  • Two members of the advisory committee;

  • Normally, at least one of the qualifying examination committee members must be from outside the department in which the student is registered. That person may be a member of the advisory committee.

As a qualifying examination, consideration is to be given not only (1) to the student's knowledge of the subject matter and ability to integrate the material derived from his or her studies, but also (2) to the student's ability and promise in research. The examining committee, therefore, will receive from the advisory committee a written evaluation of the quality of the student's research performance to date and of the student's potential as a researcher. The examining committee will determine the relative importance to be given to these two major components of the qualifying examination.

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. The results of the qualifying examination will be reported to the Assistant VP of Graduate Studies through the chair of the academic unit. The report to the Assistant VP will record the decision as unsatisfactory or satisfactory. 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 (see Unsatisfactory Progress and Appeals of Decisions.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1