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Comprehensive Exam

The Comprehensive exam will normally be taken during the second (spring) semester of the second year. For students with advanced standing, they will be eligible to take the exam during the first (fall) semester of the second year. The Comprehensive exam committee will consist of the student’s Dissertation committee minus the mentor. A replacement member will be appointed by the Experimental Pathology Director in consultation with the four standing members of the Dissertation committee. The chair of the Dissertation committee (who is not the mentor) will also serve as chair of the Comprehensive exam committee.

The comprehensive exam will take the form of a grant proposal and will be ‘off-topic’. Specifically, the focus of the proposal will be in the field of the student’s research, but must not be directly related to the dissertation project. In order to determine the topic, each of the five comprehensive exam committee members will choose a recent high-profile paper in the area of the student’s research interests (but not directly related to the dissertation project). After examining the papers, the student will choose one and make it the subject of their comprehensive exam.

Upon choosing the topic of the exam, the student will then prepare and submit a two-page single spaced abstract to the committee (not including references). The abstract will include the background/rationale, the significance of the question being asked and an outline of the specific aims. Upon approval of the abstract (edits or re-writes are likely), the student will be given permission to prepare a full proposal based on the NIH R21 format. Specifically, the proposal will be seven single spaced pages (not including references) and must include Significance, Innovation, Rationale and Experimental Approach. The proposal will then be defended orally in front of the entire committee. Timelines, outcomes and remediation (if necessary) will be standard and in accordance with Graduate College guidelines.