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GUIDELINES CONCERNING THE Ph.D. GENERAL EXAMINATION

1.   General Policy- Graduate College and Departmental Requirements

The general examination for the Ph.D. in political science follows the requirements set forth in the Graduate College Bulletin. The Graduate College requires the student to file a request with the Graduate College for permission to take the General Examination. Before permission is granted, the student must have satisfactorily completed all required coursework (no incomplete grades are permitted). Once permission is granted, the student must apply for the exam at least two weeks before it is to be held. It is the student’s responsibility to register for general exams, and obtain signatures from their Advisory Committee members. Students should consult the Graduate College website regarding application forms, procedures, and deadlines. The department's Graduate Studies in Political Science Statement also contains a detailed description of the examination process. Provided below is additional information concerning the procedures.

2.    Exam Development

Once a student has received permission to take the General Examination, the Graduate Program Director will appoint an examination committee. This committee will ordinarily consist of the student’s Advisory Committee, the field coordinator for each of the fields in which the student is to be examined, and faculty members in those fields. (If the field coordinator is a member of the student’s committee, another faculty member from that field will be selected by the Graduate Program Director to assist with the examination.) The members of the Advisory Committee, in consultation with the field coordinator or other representatives from each field, will prepare the questions for the examination and will evaluate the written answers. The individual committee member in consultation with the field coordinator makes the final decision as to which questions are included on the field exam. Committees are strongly urged not to ask the student to answer more than four questions during the eight-hour period.

3.    Exam Preparation

Students may examine in two or three fields of study. Students should consult not only each committee member preparing the examination but with the field coordinators as well. At their discre­tion, commit­tee members may supply reading lists, course syllabi, and provide guidance as appropriate to prepare the student for the exam.  The de­partment also makes available either a list of ques­tions from previous exams or the actual examina­tions. The department schedules exams once in the fall and once in the spring.  ­Written examinations are to take place on three consecutive weekdays.  Adjustments to this schedule may be necessary to accommodate several examinees.  Students have no more than eight hours for each written exam.

 4.    Academic Integrity/Plagiarism

Academic integrity means understanding and respecting these basic truths, without which no university can exist. Academic misconduct -- "cheating" -- is not just "against the rules."It violates the assumptions at the heart of all learning. It destroys the mutual trust and respect that should exist between student and professor. Finally, it is unfair to students who earn their grades honestly. Any form of academic misconduct will be vigorously pursued in accordance with university policy and will likely result in failure of exams and dismissal from the graduate program. Students will be expected to sign a Statement of Confidentiality which reads: “I understand that I am given a copy of each of my comprehensive examination answers in order to help me prepare for my oral exam. I agree to keep these answers confidential, and I will not show them or allow them to be shared with any other student.”  In addition, students taking the general examination will be required to sign the Academic Integrity Statement which reads: “On my honor, I affirm that I have neither given nor received inappropriate aid in the completion of this exercise.”  For more definitions see the Student Guide to Academic Integrity.  For other information regarding university policies and procedures see: Office of the Senior Vice President-Provost .  

5.    Student Guidelines

Exams may be hand written or prepared on computers supplied by the department. Handwritten exams must be legible. The graduate programs assistant will print computer generated exam, copy all exams, and circulate to the appropriate faculty. The exam format should be double spaced, with 1” margins, and 12 point font.

6.    Exam Review/Evaluation/Grading/Reporting

  The Written Exam. The examining committee (including the field coordinator and other field faculty as applicable) will evalu­ate the written examinations in each field. Field faculty members are asked to assess­ the student's performance in a particular examination field and report their evaluation to the field representative on the committee, the committee chair and the Graduate Program Director. Commit­tee members read the entire examination and indicate whether the student can proceed to the oral portion of the general examination. Students must satisfactorily complete written examinations in all written fields before they may proceed to the oral examination. Oral exams are scheduled at the discretion of the advisory committee in consultation with the field coordinator. The final decision as to pass/fail rests with the advisory committee.


  
The Oral Exam. The oral examination is conducted by the student’s Advisory Committee, which has the final decision in evaluating the student's perfor­mance The oral examination is the occasion for providing feedback on the student's performance. The student may have a copy of the written examination and his/her answers to all ques­tions to assist in preparing for the oral examination. The student, however, must sign a waiver stating that the exam answers will not be shared with any other student or other person other than the advisory committee. Normally, the oral examination will not be held until 10 days have passed after the written exams. Committees will make every effort to ensure that the entire examination process does not exceed 30 days total.

7.    Exam Outcomes/Reporting to the Graduate College

Within 72 hours following the oral exam, the Advisory Committee must forward the results to the Graduate College.  If the student fails any portion of the exam (written or oral), the report must indicate a failure of the entire exam. The reason for the decision should be documented and provide the student sufficient detail to understand the decision including, identifying strengths and weaknesses. In the case of oral examination, the student should also be given feedback on presentation, logical exposition, ability to answer questions. A student who fails the general examination may, at the discretion of his/her advisory committee, be allowed to retake the examination the next time the exams are offered or at a later time acceptable to the committee. If a student fails only one field of the exam, they may take the examination in that field again at the next administration of the general examination. If the student fails more than one field, the student must retake the entire exam. If the committee authorizes a student who has failed the exam the opportunity to retake the exam, the next attempt must occur within no more than one year. The general examination may not be given a third time.

As provided in the Graduate College Bulletin, if the student's performance is marginal in one field, the committee may allow the student the opportu­nity to undertake remedial work. The results of the exam are held in abeyance until the student completes the required work.  Remedial work is permitted in only one exam field and must be completed by the end of the examination semester.


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