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Qualifying Exam

Students will take the first attempt at qualifying examination within the first year of their program. The student will submit three potential topics to the BDGP chair who will select one for the exam and form an examination committee from among the BDGP faculty. The topic(s) may be related to the student’s area of doctoral research, but students are free to choose a scientific topic of their choice. Following this, the student will submit a written document comprising of:

  1. One specific aims page
  2. Up to 10-pages (including figures / tables but excluding references) of proposed research section with the following sub-sections (required):
         a. Significance (“so what, why is this important, and what will this change”)
         b. Innovation (“why is this new and transformative”)
         c. Approach / Methods (“how will this be done and why is your team the best to do this”)
         d. Statistical Analyses (brief description)
  3. References – no page limit
  4. Two-page biosketch: NSF or NIH format (note: NIH allows up to 5 pages, but only two are allowed for the exam).
  5. Budget / budget justification are not required.
  6. Formatting:
         a. Margins: At least 0.5 inch margins on all four sides of the page.
         b. Font: Arial pt. 11 font or Times New Roman pt. 12 font (symbol font acceptable where appropriate). Smaller font sizes (typically smaller by 1 pt. to the corresponding text font) are acceptable for figure and table legends.
         c. Line Density: Line spacing: must be no more than six lines per vertical inch.
         d. Page numbers must be included throughout the document.

Approximate Timeline:
Exam Topic Suggestion: 6 weeks before oral presentation
Exam Topic Selection: 5 weeks before oral presentation
Written Document Due: 2 weeks before oral presentation
Oral Presentation: approximately 15-20 slides on the proposal. Time: 45 min + question/answer sessions

The written document, including suggestion of three topics, is supposed to be entirely the student’s work and consultations / discussions with advisors, faculty members, colleagues, etc. are not allowed. Violation of this will be considered a violation of ASU’s academic integrity policy (please refer ASU’s policies). Refer any questions to the BDGP program chair.

The qualifying exam committee will determine whether the student passes, passes with conditions, or fails. If the committee establishes conditions, those must be completed within the specified time period. The student doesn’t pass the qualifying examination until the student has completed all conditional requirements. Once the student has passed the examination, the Qualifying Exam results form must be submitted to the Graduate Advisor.

It is the student’s responsibility to complete the adequate forms and prepare for the examination within the allotted time period. Failure to take the examination within this time period will be considered as a failed attempt. One re-examination may be administered no sooner than three months and no later than one year after the original examination date. If a student is not able to pass the qualifying examination, the student may be recommended for dismissal from the program.