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The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center Graduate College Bulletin

4.8 - The General Examination

Students should apply for the General Examination when the course work and any tools of research as described in the Report of the Doctoral Advisory Conference are almost complete. The examination is intended to test the student's mastery of a number of related fields as well as the student's ability to synthesize, integrate, generalize, and expand upon all knowledge gained prior to the examination. Students should expect that material included in this examination will go beyond the subject matter covered in any individual course.

Each graduate program will develop clearly defined guidelines for the General Examination including:

  1. When the examination will be administered within the student's outlined program;
  2. The structure and format for the examination (must include a written portion);
  3. The procedure for evaluating the examination; and
  4. The procedure available for students to receive consultation and evaluation of their performance on the examination.

These guidelines must be approved by the Graduate College and any changes to the guidelines for the General Examination must be submitted to and approved by the Graduate Dean.

The student submits to the Graduate College the Application for the General Examination at least 10 working days prior to the start of the examination. 

The application must contain the names and signatures of the student’s General Examination Committee.  The General Examination Committee must be composed of five Graduate Faculty members with the majority authorized to chair a doctoral committee. The application must be approved by the student’s graduate program as documented by the signature of the graduate liaison or program director.

Upon submission to the Graduate College the application must be approved by the Graduate Dean.  The student may not begin the General Examination until their graduate program receives notification that the Graduate Dean has approved their Application for the General Examination.  Any General Examination taken without approval of the Graduate College must be repeated.

Advances in electronic media have made it possible for the oral component of the General Exam to be held without the presence of every member at the same location. The Graduate College must be notified of remote participation before the oral component. The student, the committee chair, and the majority of General Examination Committee must be physically present at the same location for the oral component of the General Examination.  Other committee members may participate remotely via audio or video conference. Nevertheless, the integrity and significance of the oral examination process must not be compromised by the absence of a sound committee.

Within 72 hours following completion of the General Examination, the chair of the General Examination Committee must submit to the Graduate College a written report signed by all members of the examination committee indicating  whether the student passed or failed the examination.  Copies of electronic signatures for committee members who have been approved to participate remotely will be accepted.

A unanimous report from the General Examination Committee is expected; however, on occasion committee members may dissent. If one committee member dissents the dissent is recorded.  If two committee members dissent the dissent is recorded, a minority report must be filed, and the Graduate Dean will investigate and make the final decision on the General Examination. If more than two committee members dissent, the General Examination is judged to be a failure.

Upon notification that the student has successfully passed their General Examination and a request has been made to the Graduate Dean for admission to candidacy, the student is eligible to enroll in dissertation research hours (6980).  The student must be eligible for candidacy by the final date to enroll in order to enroll in dissertation research hours (6980) for that semester.

If a student fails either the written or oral portion of the General Examination the examination is considered a failure. Students have the option of taking a second General Examination if they fail the first attempt.  The Chair of the General Examination Committee must provide the student with a critique of the failed exam; describe any further coursework, reading, etc. that the student is required to do prior to taking the second examination; and the proposed time for completion of the second General Examination.  This must be provided as a written document to the student and a copy provided to the Graduate College Dean within 7 working days of the failed General Examination.

To take a second General Examination the student must submit a new Application for the General Examination to the Graduate College following the above procedures.  The second General Examination must be scheduled no later than one academic year after failure of the first exam.  Failure of the General Examination for a second time will result in dismissal from the doctoral program.

4.8.1 - Terminal Master's Degree

Effective for students entering doctoral programs from fall 2009, a doctoral student may request to change their major to a terminal master’s degree. Matriculated doctoral students changing to a terminal master’s degree must complete the requirements for a thesis or non-thesis master’s degree to be awarded a master’s degree as described in the Masters Programs portion of the Graduate College Bulletin. Students changing to a terminal master’s degree may not enter the same doctoral program at a later date.

Policy after Successful Completion of the General Exam:

When permitted by departmental policy, effective for students entering doctoral programs from fall 2009, students who do not hold the master's degree in the doctoral discipline may apply for the master's degree if they have passed the General Examination for the doctoral degree, have met the departmental requirements for the non-thesis master’s degree, and have the recommendation of the major department. Upon approval by the Graduate Dean, the student will be awarded the terminal master's degree.

Policy After Failure of the General Exam:

Effective for students entering doctoral programs from fall 2009, students who have failed the general examination and do not hold the master's degree in the doctoral discipline may request to change their major to the master’s degree program. Students in graduate programs that offer a thesis master’s degree must complete the requirements for a thesis master’s degree to be awarded a master’s degree. For students in graduate programs that offer a non-thesis master’s degree the program may allow the student to apply to take the master's comprehensive examination if they have otherwise met all of the departmental requirements for the master's degree, and have the recommendation of the major department. Courses taken prior to failing the general examination may count for no more than 50% of the credit hours required for a master's degree in a different discipline at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Furthermore, the courses must have been taken within six years of the student's admission to the master's degree being sought. The student must be admitted to the master's degree program and have permission from that department and the Graduate Dean to include the courses.

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