Ph.D. Prospectus Defense/General Examination

Students are required to write and successfully defend a Dissertation Prospectus that outlines a plan for the Ph.D. dissertation. Students ordinarily develop their dissertation prospectus by working closely with their Supervisory Committee Chair. When the dissertation prospectus is close to completion, all members of Ph.D. Supervisory Committee meet to consider it for approval during a General Examination or dissertation prospectus defense.  Passing the General Examination is a major milestone in the student's academic career and results in a change of status to Ph.D. Candidate.

Procedures Associated with the General Examination

Requesting an Exam

In preparation for scheduling your General Exam, and to make sure that minimum departmental requirements have been met, request your current degree audit by emailing the Graduate Program Advisor.  This process usually takes at least a few business days, unless your audit was very recently updated.  If you need it very urgently, please inform the GPA.

Additionally, if you have not yet filed your Ph.D. Training Plan*, this needs to be submitted and processed before you can take your General Exam.  The coursework doesn't need to be finished yet, but you do have to have declared your plan.  The coursework itself must be completed before you take your Final Exam. (*Applies to cohorts 2014 and newer, and all students from prior to Cohort 2014 who have the Training Plan as part of their individualized program requirements.)

When the Supervisory Committee determines that the student is ready to defend the dissertation prospectus, the student contacts all members of the supervisory committee (including the Graduate School Representative) and schedules the datetime, and place of the General Exam.  If you or a committee member will be away from campus when you defend, please be sure to read the next section on this page about using videoconferencing and doctoral exams.

  • The request to schedule the exam must be submitted at least 3 weeks in advance of the exam date.
  • After date and time have been determined, the student reserves the room for the exam, using the Sociology department room reservation procedure.
  • The student must notify all committee members of the final date/time/room, and ask that they confirm via email stating "I agree that the student [student's name] is ready to schedule the General Exam, scheduled for [date/time] and [location]. I agree to attend the exam as scheduled. I will attend the exam [in person or remotely]".  ALL members of the Supervisory Committee including the GSR, regardless of whether or not they intend to attend the exam, must agree to the scheduling of the exam and will need to confirm their agreement via email.  If a committee member is planning to remote in, or will not be in attendance, please have them indicate this in their email.  Note that the GSR can not remote in per Graduate School rules, and must be physically present at the defense.
  • Forward all committee confirmation emails to the Sociology Graduate Program Advisor, and state the exam date, time and location of exam.
  • Schedule the exam using the Graduate School online form using the MyGrad Student View:
  • The Graduate Program Advisor will put the warrant in the supervisory chair's department mailbox.

The Exam

  • At least four members of the supervisory committee (including Chair and Graduate School Representative) must be present at the General Examination.  The GSR must be physically present and cannot remote in.
  • The supervisory chair brings the warrant to the General Exam where, providing the committee approves the prospectus, the warrant is signed by the committee members and returned to the Graduate Program Advisor.
  • The GSR completes a separate form, and returns it directly to the Graduate School.
  • If a General Examination is unsatisfactory, the supervisory committee may recommend that the Dean of the Graduate School permit up reexamination (up to a maximum of two additional exams).

Videoconferencing For This Exam:

If you or one of your committee members are going to be away from campus and need to videoconference into the exam, Graduate School special rules apply.  You must also coordinate with the Graduate Program Advisor to make arrangements.  The GSR committee member is not allowed to remote in for the exam, and must be physically present.

Completion of the Exam Process

After a successful exam, the student provides the following items to the Graduate Program Advisor to be filed in their student file:

  • Email an electronic copy in Word of the approved prospectus.  This can be submitted by email attachment to the Graduate Program Advisor.
  • Give the original warrant with original signatures of all committee members to the Graduate Program Advisor.

The Graduate Program Advisor will then record the results in MyGrad and take care of any other additional administrative steps required at that point.