Students will be required to pass a comprehensive examination that will assess the student‘s preparedness to carry out the proposed plan of dissertation research. Students applying for candidacy must have completed all required core and background courses as prescribed in their degree audit. The Advancement to Candidacy Examination will consist of two written components and one oral component. Each student will be required to take the Advancement to Candidacy Examination, which will be conducted by his or her Ph.D. Dissertation Committee. All Committee members must be in attendance for candidacy examinations. Results of the Advancement to Candidacy Examination will be reported on the Comprehensive Examination report and submitted to the Graduate College. The Advancement to Candidacy Examination will consist of the following three parts: Grant Proposal, Business Plan, and Oral Examination.
Grant Proposal. Each student will prepare an original grant proposal on a recent Small Business Innovation Research topic selected by the student and approved by the Ph.D. Dissertation Committee. The purpose of the written exam is to judge the student's ability to design a line of inquiry into a specific scientific topic and is one of the required items for candidacy. The proposal will be based on seminal papers in the field of interest along with other pertinent research information. The student will present the supporting material, along with the topic of the proposal, to the Ph.D. Dissertation Committee for approval prior to writing the proposal. The student will present the background of the proposed work in the Commercialization Forum during the third or fourth semester in the program. The Ph.D. Dissertation Committee will be present at the seminar. The topic of the grant proposal must be different from the planned dissertation research. The proposal will follow the format used by a major granting agency, such as NSF, DoD, DoE or NIH, and will include all pertinent sections. To ensure the student has a clear idea of the requirements of his or her committee, the research advisor and committee will consult with the student during selection of the proposal topic and the writing of the original draft of the proposal. The proposal will be submitted to the Ph.D. Dissertation Committee no later than the fifth week of the fourth semester in the Ph.D. program. This proposal will be read by the Committee members, who will make comments and return a copy of the proposal to the student two weeks prior to the Oral Examination Component of the Advancement to Candidacy Examination.
Business Plan. Each student will be required during the first year to prepare a business plan for a start-up company. The preparation of the business plan will occur during the first year in parallel with the two semester sequence of courses aimed at developing skills in commercialization and entrepreneurship. The student will defend the business plan in the Commercialization Forum and will be graded on both the written business plan and their oral presentation by the Ph.D. Dissertation Committee. This business plan and oral defense constitutes one of the required items for candidacy.
Oral Examination. The Ph.D. Dissertation Committee will question the student about the grant proposal and in the sub-discipline the student has chosen for his or her Ph.D. research project. Half of the exam will be devoted to questions relating to the submitted grant proposal. The remaining half will consist of questions in the general field in which the Ph.D. research project will be conducted. Students will be expected to exhibit breadth in their major area of interest and in ancillary fields.
The student will be required to take the Advancement to Candidacy Examination no later than his or her fourth semester in the program. Following the oral questions and answers, the student will leave the examination room. The members of the Ph.D. Dissertation Committee will determine if the student has passed the oral examination. The student will pass the exam if there is no more than one dissenting vote. Should a student fail the exam, he or she will have the option of taking a second Advancement to Candidacy Examination, which must be passed by the end of the following semester. Failure to pass this exam on two occasions will lead to the student's dismissal from the Ph.D. program.
A dissertation proposal prepared by the student and approved by the student‘s Ph.D. Research Advisor and a majority of the other members of the Dissertation Committee is a requirement for Advancement to Candidacy. The proposal must outline the substance and scope of the dissertation research, present the methodology to be used, and survey the relevant literature. The student‘s Ph.D. Research Advisor and other Dissertation Committee members must indicate approval of the dissertation proposal on the Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal form. This form may be downloaded from the Graduate College‘s website. A final copy of the dissertation proposal, accompanied by the signed approval form, must be turned in to the Doctoral Program Director, who will forward it to the Dean of the Graduate College for review and final approval.
Successful completion of the Advancement to Candidacy Examination must be followed within 90 days by an oral presentation and defense of the dissertation proposal. The oral component of the Advancement to Candidacy Examination will entail a public presentation of the student‘s dissertation proposal followed immediately by a closed defense of the proposal attended only by the student and his or her Dissertation Committee. Both the presentation and defense must take place on the same day. Passing the Oral Examination requires positive votes from all members of the student‘s Dissertation Committee. The results of the Defense of Dissertation Proposal form must be filed in the Graduate College before the Dean of the Graduate College gives final approval to candidacy.
The Dissertation Committee recommends the student for Advancement to Candidacy by completing the Application for Advancement to Candidacy. This form may be downloaded from the Graduate College‘s website. The Doctoral Program Director is responsible for submitting this application to the Graduate College.