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Texas A&M University

Preliminary Exam and Candidacy

Preliminary Exam Requirement

  • All Ph.D. students are required to do a Preliminary Exam.
  • Through this exam the student's committee verifies that the student has demonstrated:
    1. a mastery of the subject matter of all fields in their program
    2. obtained adequate knowledge of the literature in these fields
    3. has the ability to carry out bibliographical research.
  • Procedures:
    1. The exam is to be given no earlier than a date at which the student is within approximately 6 credit hours of completion of the formal course work on the degree plan (i.e. all course work except 681, 684, 690, 691 and 692) or no later than the end of the semester following the completion of the formal course work on the degree plan.
    2. The Chair of the student's advisory committee must report the results of the exam promptly to the Office of Graduate Studies using the Report of the Doctoral Preliminary Examination and the Preliminary Examination Checklist (these forms must be printed on separate pages).
    3. The Office of Graduate Studies must receive these results within 10 days after the exam was completed otherwise it will be recorded as a failure.
    4. After passing the Preliminary exam, students must complete all remaining requirements for the degree within four calendar years or else be required to repeat the Preliminary exam.

Research Proposal

As soon thereafter as the research project can be outlined in reasonable detail, the dissertation research proposal should be completed. There isn't a minimum page requirement but the proposal should be a complete document which includes an objective, the present status of the question and a detailed description of the proposed research methods. The proposal and Proposal Approval form with appropriate signatures must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies. Students are strongly advised to submit the research proposal soon after the Preliminary Exam.

Admission to Candidacy

To be admitted to candidacy for a doctoral degree, a student must have:

  • Completed all formal course work on the degree plan with the exception of any remaining Math 681, Math 684, Math 690 and Math 691 hours;
  • A 3.0 Graduate GPR and a Degree plan GPR of at least 3.0 with no grade lower than C in any course on the degree plan;
  • Passed the Preliminary Examination;
  • Submitted an approved Research Proposal;
  • Met the residence requirements. A student who enters a PhD program with just a BS must spend 1 academic year plus 1 semester in resident study (study on campus). A student who enters a PhD program with a BS and MS must spend 1 academic year in resident study. An academic year may include 2 adjacent regular semesters or 1 regular semester and 1 adjacent 10 week summer semester.

The Office of Graduate Studies will review each student's case to confirm that all these 5 steps have been met. Once confirmed, they will admit the student to candidacy. The final oral examination will not be approved for any doctoral student who has not been admitted to candidacy (note: there needs to be at least 14 weeks between the Preliminary Exam and the thesis defense).