This is a three-stage process and can be undertaken only after minimum course requirements have been fulfilled. It should be taken no later than the 6th semester in the program.
- The candidate will prepare a research proposal of approximately 15 pages, excluding figures and references. The proposal will be reviewed by the student’s advisory committee and used as part of the exam assessment. The proposal must demonstrate that the proposed research consists of a suitable topic in terms of feasibility and importance. Preliminary results and familiarity with the field and literature are necessary before writing the proposal. Once revisions are made and the proposal is accepted by the advisory committee, the second stage can be initiated.
- The advisory committee prepares a written examination based on the research proposal. This is a closed- book examination taken on a day chosen by the student, spanning approximately 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon. The examination is meant to evaluate familiarity with the chosen research area, to assess the relation of this field of research to others in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and to alert the student to potential weaknesses in the research proposal. The advisory committee will evaluate responses to the examination. If responses are deemed sufficient and satisfactory, the third part of the process occurs. Students who fail the examination will be asked to leave the graduate program at the end of the semester, retake the examination, or complete specified remedial classes within 6 months of the examination date.
- The oral portion of the exam takes place within a 2 week window after the written exam. The format normally consists of an oral presentation of the research proposal to the advisory committee, and responses to committee members’ questions regarding both the proposal and the examination answers. This examination takes approximately 3 hours. A room within the department must be booked for this purpose and presentation equipment reserved (see the Office Assistant in GY129). Possible outcomes of this exam are: pass (admission to formal Ph.D. Candidate status); fail with permission to retake the exam; fail without permission to retake the exam; or a conditional pass (the candidate may need to satisfy some requirements set by the committee, which may involve further classes or research).