All students in the Ph.D. in Education Program must take the preliminary examination ("prelims") upon completion of the primary course work. The preliminary examination is an assessment of the breadth and depth of a student's knowledge in his/her concentration area, and his/her ability to access, analyze, and synthesize research in writing.
The examination is administered each semester during the fifth week of the term on Wednesday and Friday mornings. Prior to taking the exam, the student must have completed the COEHS core courses, the five Departmental core courses, and the majority of the remaining course work. The student should alert her or his doctoral committee chair and the Director of Graduate Programs of the intention to take prelims at least one semester in advance of sitting for the exam.
The preliminary examination consists of eight sections, five of which are written or keyed during the scheduled Wednesday and Friday examination period. The other three sections are evaluated by a scholarly paper that is prepared in advance and submitted on Wednesday morning of the examination period. Requirements and procedures for developing the scholarly paper, which addresses the student's research identity, are contained in guidelines provided by the Office of Graduate Programs.
Each of the eight sections of the exam is evaluated by three graduate faculty members on a scale ranging from 1 (unacceptable) to 5 (excellent). A score of 3.0 (average) or higher on all sections is required to pass the exam. Students who receive a score of less than 3.0 on one or more parts of the exam will be required to retake those parts in a subsequent semester. Policies explaining when and how to retake an examination, in whole or part, are available from the Office of Graduate Programs.