Students must pass an oral comprehensive exam, in which they demonstrate depth of knowledge in their intended area of research, and ability to perform original research in that area. The scope of the oral exam is defined by a reading list prepared by the student and the dissertation director. The list should include research papers and textbooks that adequately cover 

  • The basic tools used in the research area
  • The fundamentals of the research area, and 
  • The state-of-the-art in the specific focus of research.

The reading list must be accompanied by a one-page description of the intended research. This document must be approved by the dissertation committee at least one month prior to the exam, and becomes part of the student's record. The duration of the oral exam is typically two hours. Students who fail the exam are allowed to retake it once. Failure in the second attempt results in dismissal from the program.