Qualifying examinations certify that a student is "qualified" to transition from coursework to independent dissertation research. Passing the qualifying examinations constitutes formal advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.
- Theory: of and in planning and public policy.
- Methods: including core competency in qualitative and quantitative analysis and research design.
- First Field: a topical specialization within planning and/or public policy, requiring broad familiarity with a substantive literature that is central to the student's anticipated dissertation.
First field and second field exams assess the student's comprehension and mastery of a substantive literature relevant to the topical specialization covered by each exam.
- Second Field: a second topical or substantive specialization closely related to the student's anticipated dissertation research and defined so that the subject matter does not overlap with the first field; or a related field other than planning and public policy (e.g., civil engineering, computer science, economics, geography, political science, sociology, or another field) that the student can show is relevant to his or her dissertation research.
Students may take the written and oral qualifying examination in methods at any time after completing the required coursework in methods (see Coursework Requirements and Transfer of Credits). To take the qualifying examinations in theory, major field, and minor field, students must have completed 48 coursework credits (including transfer of credits), have a minimum GPA of 3.5, and have no outstanding IN grades.
The doctoral program generally offers qualifying examinations in theory and in methods twice a year, once in the fall semester and once in the spring semester. The student must complete written examinations in theory, major field, and minor field and a combined oral examination covering the three areas within a single semester.
Each student is responsible for scheduling first and second field exams in consultation with his or her examiners, with the proviso that all three exams - theory, first field, second field - must be completed within a single semester. Following satisfactory completion of written exams, a single combined oral exam covering theory, first field, and second field is scheduled on a date (within the same semester as the written exams) agreed to by the student and his or her examiners.
Should the student fail any part of the examination, the examination committee will advise the student to pursue one or more of the following options: 1) take additional courses or submit additional written and/or oral work; 2) retake part(s) or all of the exam at a specified time; 3) withdraw from the doctoral program.