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Ph.D. Candidacy Examination

Criteria for a successful exam and possible outcomes

Students will be assessed through a written report, oral presentation (15-20 min), and responses to questions after the oral presentation (20-30 min). Altogether, the oral exam will last no more than 50 min. The written report is to be a maximum of 5 pages double spaced, including everything. The font and margins of the document must follow the guidelines for theses and dissertations at Penn State.

The written report should include a brief introduction, the rationale for the research, the hypothesis to be tested, the general approach to be used, and any specific aims. In developing the document, the student may confer with his or her advisor regarding the availability of background materials, and the formulation of the research objectives. The writing and editing of the written report should, however, be the exclusive work of the student. The written report will be used by the Department to satisfy the University’s requirement for the English Competency Exam.

In order to successfully pass the Candidacy Exam a student must:

  1. Demonstrate mastery of chemical engineering fundamentals.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the scientific method (observation, hypothesis generation, hypothesis testing, analysis)
  3. Effectively present and communicate technical ideas and concepts related to the student’s research.
  4. Demonstrate effective verbal and written communication skills in English.

The examination committee is at liberty to inquire into any aspect of the student's preparation and progress. Failure of the student to demonstrate one or more of the criteria listed above will result in failure of the Exam. Unless otherwise specified by the exam committee, students who do not pass the Candidacy Exam will be required to first complete a Masters thesis before they can petition to take the Candidacy Exam a second time.

At the discretion of the exam committee, a maximum of one retake may be allowed for any student. If a retake of the Exam is recommended by the exam committee, the retake must take place before the end of the fall semester with the same committee, and scheduling will be the responsibility of the student.

Page added on 07/22/14

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