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Preliminary Exam

Critical Review of Literature and Research Proposal

Students who have successfully passed all four(4) qualifying courses will proceed to produce a scholarly, in-depth, critical review of the existing knowledge in the field of specialization in which the student hopes to base his/her dissertation proposal. The review should be of “publishable quality” and must be submitted to the student’s committee along with an original research proposal. The proposal should include the motivation for the work, the literature review, preliminary methods and procedures, and preliminary results along with the measurable goals of the research. It should include a projected timeline (e.g. Gantt chart) for completion of the student’s studies. 

Preliminary Oral Examination for Admission to Candidacy 

After the chair of the committee has agreed that the written critical review and proposal are acceptable, the student is expected to present and defend the literature review and research proposal. The literature review and proposal shall be provided to the committee at least 17 days prior to the exam with a copy to the Director of Doctoral Graduate Programs (DGP).  

Scheduling Policy 

  1. Students need to send the DGP and their committee a pdf version of the appropriate final, nearly error-free documents. (At least 17 days before requested exam date) 
  2. The student’s advisor must email the DGP stating that the document is complete subject to the outcome of the oral defense. 
  3. The Request to Schedule Exam form must be approved by the DGP and submitted to the Graduate School at least 14 days before the requested exam date.

The presentation will be made to an examining committee consisting of the student’s advisory committee. The presentation will also be open to interested faculty, staff and students. After the presentation the student will be orally examined by the examining committee, to test his/her ability to relate factual knowledge to specific circumstances, to use knowledge with accuracy and promptness, and to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the field of specialization and related areas.  

Exam Outcomes

A unanimous vote of approval of the advisory committee is required for passing the preliminary examination. Approval may be conditional, however, and require students to meet specific requirements prescribed by their advisory committee. These conditions must be written in a clear and distinct way and communicated in such a manner that the student clearly understands what is expected; they must also be submitted to the DGP and the Graduate School. Upon satisfactory completion of the oral examination, the student is admitted to candidacy for the degree.  

A student who fails the preliminary examination is terminated from graduate work at NC State unless the graduate advisory committee unanimously requests a re-examination. Only a single re-examination will be allowed; it can encompass written, oral, or both components as determined by the advisory committee. If the DGP or the Graduate School denies the request, the student’s program is terminated.