This is the examination taken by a Ph.D. student when he/she has completed all courses on the program of study in the major field and the quantitative and research methods courses specified on the program of study.
Preparation for the Preliminary or Field Exam
Diligent study while taking each of the major field courses and research methods courses on the program of study should prove to be the most valuable preparation for the field exams. Each student should have a well-organized set of notes from the courses taken. These should be reviewed prior to taking the exams.
The formation of study groups among students is encouraged and should prove helpful in preparing for the exams. The materials or concepts that might be missing from one student’s notes might be covered by another’s. As a study guide, it may be helpful to develop a list of potential exam questions. The office manager in the academic unit has copies of past exams available for review. These will prove helpful in determining the types of questions that have been covered in the past. The exams cover broad, important topics in the chosen discipline. Students who have achieved a mastery of the knowledge of the discipline should pass without a great deal of difficulty.
Additional Requirements for the Academic Unit
Students may request a copy of the written standards that supplement and/or exceed the minimum academic regulations published in the Graduate Bulletin from their academic unit’s Ph.D. coordinator. Examples of such standards could include the following: a specific GPA requirement, an oral or written presentation, a first-year paper, or a reading list from which the student will be tested.
It is not uncommon for an academic unit to have requirements for the degree specific to the major. It is the student’s responsibility to secure a copy of these written guidelines. To be successful in the program, a student must understand the expectations of the faculty.