Doctoral Oral Qualifying Examination (OQE)
The doctoral Oral Qualifying Examination must be passed before the student can be advanced to candidacy for the doctorate. To be eligible to take the Oral Qualifying Examination, the student must have completed all coursework, have a formally constituted Doctoral Committee, and have completed and passed the Written Qualifying Examination requirement. Students are expected to take and pass the Oral Qualifying Examination by the end of the Spring Quarter of their third year of graduate study.
Students prepare a written description of the scientific background of the dissertation research project, the specific aims of the project, a description of preliminary findings and a research plan for addressing the specific aims. The proposal should be between 10 and 25 pages, double spaced, excluding references and figures, and should follow the format of an NIH, or NSF grant proposal. The dissertation proposal is then submitted to the student’s doctoral committee at least 10 days in advance of the scheduled Oral Qualifying Examination. A hard copy of the proposal is also to be submitted to the Bioinformatics Graduate Student Affairs Office. The exam consists of an oral presentation of the proposal by the student to thecommittee. The student’s oral presentation and examination are expected to demonstrate all of the following:
1) A scholarly understanding of the background of the dissertation proposal
2) At least three major specific aims that are well-designed and testable, and which reflect the development of a systematic approach to the posed research question(s) and its (their) solution(s). The specific aims can include work already in progress.
3) That the student can interpret the results of the planned approach concisely and rigorously
4) An understanding of potential outcomes and their interpretation, framed both within the context of the system in question and of other related biological systems
5) If the proposed research involves the development of an application or methodology, why the results would be important for any expert in that area of bioinformatics.
The Oral Qualifying Examination (OQE) is chaired by the student’s thesis advisor, and conducted by their Doctoral Committee. University policy requires that all Doctoral Committee members be physically present for the Oral Qualifying Examination.
The oral exam should be scheduled for two hours or more. The student leaves at the beginning of the exam to allow the faculty advisor to summarize the student’s progress, and again at the end to allow the committee to decide whether thestudent has successfully completed the exam.
The Doctoral Committee determines whether or not the student has passed the Oral Qualifying Examination. In the event of failure, the Oral Qualifying Examination may be repeated only once.
At the time of the doctoral Oral Qualifying Examination, at least three members (the thesis advisor, the “outside” committee member, and one of the two other IDP members) of the Doctoral Committee must indicate their willingness to serve as Certifying Members (i.e. agree to read and approve the student’s final thesis before it is filed).
Doctoral Committee Meetings
After completion of the qualifying examinations and advancement to candidacy, students are expected to meet with their Doctoral Committee each year. These yearly meetings provide additional interaction between the Doctoral Committee and the student and serve as an important barometer for the progress of the student’s research proposal since the doctoral Oral Qualifying Examination. This meeting also serves as an avenue for advice, regarding new approaches or directions for students who have reached an impasse in their work, or regarding how much work remains for the dissertation to be considered complete for students whose work is going well. Students may accomplish these yearly doctoral committee meetings via individual meetings with their committee members.
Each yearly meeting requires the signatures of the Doctoral Committee members on the appropriate form, in order to monitor and track the student’s progress in their dissertation research and time-to-degree.
After joining a lab (starting in the second year of graduate study), each student is required to present a poster at the annual Program Retreat during the Winter Quarter.