Biodefense PhD Qualifying Exam

At the conclusion of their course work, students will take a written qualifying examination.  This exam is based on the student’s course work and on the reading lists prepared for the biodefense core and each field of specialization.  The purpose of the qualifying exam is to determine if the student is ready to engage in dissertation research.  The exam must be completed before the student takes dissertation proposal or dissertation guidance courses.

A few months in advance, PhD Student Services will announce the dates for the next cycle of qualifying exams.  Students will take two day-long exams, one in biodefense and one in the student’s area of emphasis.  The office publishes two dates, usually one week apart.  The categories of science and policy will be on one date and the exam on the student’s field of specialization will be given on a separate date.

At least one month prior to the first exam date, students planning on taking the qualifying exams must submit to PhD Student Services a comprehensive exam application and a completed Degree Plan approved by their advisor.  The purpose is to verify that all course requirements have been completed.

Students planning to take their comps during a given cycle must be available for both dates.  Students who cannot make both dates must postpone until the next offering.  No dispensation or special provision is needed for a “late” exam, as long as the maximum semesters of enrollment allowed by the university are respected.  The exam must be completed before the student takes dissertation proposal or dissertation guidance courses.

Each day of the exam is made up of an 8-hour session.  The Director of Student Engagement will proctor the exam.  A computer is provided for writing the exam.  Online access is prohibited, as well as the use of outside materials and electronic devices.  Students are not permitted to use any of the following tools while taking the exam:

  • Notes
  • Books
  • Reading lists
  • Internet
  • Personal computers of any kind
  • Handheld devices (including but not limited to smartphones, tablets, iPads, handheld devices, and anything with document storage or internet access)
  • Electronic storage devices (including but not limited to USB devices, flash drives, thumb drives, external hard drives)

Using any of the items above during the exam is grounds for failing the exam.

Exams are graded by the field committee appointed by the program director.  Through its deliberations, the committee reaches a single result for each answer and, then, a single result for the exam overall.  All answers much achieve a PASS or higher for a grade of PASS for the overall exam.  The committee will render a single grade for each question and for the exam overall: FAIL, PASS or HIGH PASS.  Any question that is failed must be re-taken and passed at the next exam cycle in order to pass the exam.  Any question area that is failed may be re-taken no more than once.  Failing a question area twice means that the overall exam is failed and that the student is terminated from the program.

Qualifying Exam Resources
Biodefense PhD Qualifying Exam Information
Biodefense PhD Reading List

Biodefense Core Exam
Qualifying Exam Spring 2019 – Core
Qualifying Exam January 2019 – Core
Qualifying Exam January 2017 – Core
Qualifying Exam Spring 2015 – Core

International Security Exam
Qualifying Exam Spring 2019 – International Security
Qualifying Exam January 2019 – International Security
Qualifying Exam January 2017 – International Security

Technology & WMD Exam
Qualifying Exam January 2017 – Technology & WMD

Terrorism & Homeland Security Exam
Qualifying Exam January 2019 – Terrorism & Homeland Security
Qualifying Exam January 2017 – Terrorism & Homeland Security
Qualifying Exam Spring 2015 – Terrorism and Homeland Security