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Comprehensive Exam/Thesis Committee Composition

Committee Composition

Students will be required to assemble a thesis committee of up to five faculty members during the fall semester of the second year. The thesis committee may include up to two faculty members from outside the Cancer Biology Program if faculty with sufficient expertise in the student’s area of research cannot be identified within the program. The student’s mentor will serve as the chair of the thesis committee.

The student will identify an additional faculty member to serve as the chair of the comprehensive exam committee. The chair of the exam committee will replace the student’s mentor for the comprehensive exam. Otherwise the composition of the comprehensive exam committee will be identical to the student’s thesis committee.

Comprehensive Exam

Students will write a comprehensive exam proposal on the topic of their specialized research area. This proposal will be submitted to the comprehensive exam committee by June 1 of the second year. The exam committee will evaluate the proposal and provide either an “acceptable” or “unacceptable” rating. If the proposal is deemed unacceptable, the student will be provided feedback by the exam committee chair and allowed to submit a revised proposal. If the revised proposal is also deemed unacceptable, the student will have failed the comprehensive exam.

When the exam proposal is deemed acceptable by the committee, the oral comprehensive exam will be scheduled, typically in the summer following the second year. During the oral exam, the exam committee with evaluate the student’s general understanding of concepts related to the written proposal and determine the student’s ability to defend the written proposal.

The exam committee will then confer to determine the outcome of the comprehensive exam and provide a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” rating. Students whose performance is considered unsatisfactory may be provided a single opportunity to retake the comprehensive exam, as specified by the Graduate College guidelines.