Qualifying exams in the student's core area and area of specialization are given at the end of the student's third semester of study, during the second week of January. Qualifying exams test the student's competence in their chosen field of study.
Reasonable accommodation will be made for documented medical conditions reported to the PhD Committee Chair before qualifying examinations. However, if a student chooses to take the qualifying exams, then medical conditions will not be used as a basis for allowing students to retake them.
The PhD committee has initiated a school-wide policy that allows students to take the exams early, but requires that they sit for the entire set of qualifiers that apply in their area. Students who decide to do this at the end of their first semester will then be evaluated by the faculty, at the review meeting at the end of January, on the basis of their overall performance. They can be asked to leave the program, passed on to candidacy (subject to the summer paper requirements), or asked to meet some remedial requirement, such as taking some or all of the exams over again. In short, they will be treated like a typical third-semester student.