The student's Advisory Committee, plus two additional faculty members appointed by the chair, shall serve as the Preliminary Examination Committee. This committee will be responsible for preparing, administering, and evaluating the examination which will be both written and oral.
The written examination will be taken first and will cover the candidate's knowledge of plant biology and related fields, the student's accomplishments in the course of study outlined, and the student's progress in the special field. Prior to taking the examination, the student must have taken, sometime in her/his training, a second level course in each of the subdisciplines listed for the General Examination (ecology, physiology, anatomy/morphology, systematics, and genetics/cell biology). The candidate will be expected to show an understanding of the application of his/her formal work to the research area. The written examination will consist of three parts: the Specialty examination which will include questions in the student's field of interest, the General Examination which will include questions testing basic knowledge in all subdisciplines in plant biology, and the Minor examination which will include questions in the student's minor field or secondary concentration within plant biology. The General Examination should encompass concepts and information at a level and depth consistent with the department's non-elective requirements for a bachelor's degree in plant biology. The entire written examination is to last no longer than five days and each part is to last no longer than eight hours.
The student must pass all parts of the written exam before proceeding to the oral exam. Pass means that the student's Preliminary Examination Committee has determined that the answers given reflect an appropriate level of knowledge of the subject matter. This will be determined by a majority vote of the Preliminary Examination Committee which must be taken immediately following the grading of the written examination. If a student fails any part (subdiscipline) of the general examination, she/he must be re-examined on the failed portion. If the student fails more than one portion of the general examination, retesting on all failed portions must be taken concurrently. A student will be allowed only two attempts to pass the written examination or any part thereof. A part is defined as the 1) Specialty examination, 2) Minor Examination, and 3) the General Examination. In any event, the student must pass the written examination by the second attempt in order to continue in the doctoral program. Upon failing the written (or any part thereof), the student may not retake the exam during the same academic term.
The oral examination will be taken no sooner than ten days nor later than thirty days following the passing of the written examination. The preliminary examination should be announced (by means of posted flyers) at least 10 working days before the examination is to be given. The examination may only be scheduled when classes are in session, including finals week. The examination shall last at least two hours and no more than four hours and should be scheduled to allow attendance of a maximum number of the Plant Biology graduate faculty and all of the Preliminary Examination Committee members. The student's answers to the written examination will be made available to the graduate faculty in Plant Biology (upon request) before the oral part of the preliminary examination. All attending graduate faculty members will be given the opportunity to express their opinion on the examination. A vote on performance in the oral examination must be taken immediately following completion of the examination. A vote to pass must be by unanimous vote of the Preliminary Examination Committee and may have conditions. If the vote is pass, then two levels of pass may be recognized: Pass and Pass with Distinction. A student will be allowed two attempts to pass the oral preliminary examination. Doctoral students entering the program with a Master's degree must pass the preliminary examination and be admitted to candidacy by the end of 36 calendar months after first registering in the doctoral program.