Candidacy Exam

APPENDIX II: Candidacy Examination

The written portion of the candidacy examination has two components: 1) a closed book, six hour examination of the students’ knowledge of the chosen track; and 2) a test of ability to apply knowledge both of the chosen track and the remaining core curriculum, to an unstructured problem. These two examinations will be followed by an oral examination. The focus of the oral examination will be the student’s responses to Part A and B. The examination committee will use the oral to explore further the student’s responses to Part A and Part B and evaluate the student’s readiness to embark upon an independent research project necessary to complete the doctoral dissertation. This oral examination will also serve as an opportunity for the student to elaborate upon the responses to Part A and Part B.


Purpose of the Examination

There are four basic skills and competencies that a student should possess and that needed to be tested through an examination before the student could move towards doctoral candidacy status:

  1. Knowledge of the material (reproduce from memory).
  2. Understanding of the material (logically reason, compare and contrast, limitations of the theory).
  3. The ability to go beyond the existing literature to suggest new empirical research questions or conceptual solutions to theoretical problems.
  4. The ability to apply theory to a particular theoretical or practical problem.

Specific Details on the Candidacy Examination

The Candidacy Examination consists of a two-part examination. Part A tests the student’s knowledge of the specialization literature. Part B tests the ability to:1) apply knowledge to an unstructured problem and 2) integrate that knowledge of the core curriculum as it relates to the unstructured problem. In short, Part A focuses relatively more on items one, two and three. Part B necessarily, to some degree, requires the student to display competency for item one but focus relatively more on items two, three and four.


Part A is an in-depth test of students’ command of the literature of their chosen specialization. This examination will not exceed eight hours in length. The student will be provided with a candidate list of questions ahead of the examination. This bank of questions will serve as the basis of the actual examination question. Each specialization’s faculty is responsible for developing and maintaining a working list of questions for that literature. Students are allowed to bring in a list of references to the examination and are allowed to use a College-provided computer.


Students can choose to be “certified” in more than track if they desire. (For example, the student could take an examination in both management and policy, or some other track should additional tracks be added to the curriculum.)


Unlike Part A, which looks back and “certifies” that the student has acquired a deep command of his or her chosen literature, Part B looks forward to test the student’s ability to structure a problem by applying and integrating the core curriculum.


Part B tests the ability of the student to take an unstructured and open-ended problem, and using the literature, provide a structured analysis or response to that problem. Unlike in Part A, students will not have foreknowledge of possible examination question. This take-home examination will not exceed one week in length. All students, regardless of their chosen track will be given the same unstructured problem or choice of problems. Examples of the unstructured problem include a research proposal to NSF, a response to a request for technical assistance from a government agency or formulating a detailed research plan to address a current public policy or management issue.


The candidacy examination, which includes Part A and Part B, is offered each fall and spring semester.


In summary, the candidacy examination is a test for all four skills and competencies listed above. The first difference between the two parts is focus: Part A focuses on the student’s chosen specialization, while Part B focuses on the student’s ability to provide structure to a public affairs problem such that it lends itself to a formal treatment using the student’s knowledge of the core curriculum and experience in the doctoral program. The oral examination allows the student and the examination committee to engage in a discussion of the student’s responses to Part A and Part B and to go beyond those responses to explore the student’s readiness to conduct doctoral level research. While the precise time frame for these examinations may vary, it is expected that the written portions of the examination will be within a week of each other. The examination committee will provide feedback to the students on their responses to Part A and Part B within ten days of the submission of the response to Part B. The oral will be conducted within three weeks of the submission of the response to Part B.

How to Schedule an Exam using GRADFORMS


Candidacy Exam Details

Doctoral Candidacy Examination

For details about Candidacy Exam Deadlines, Policies and Procedures, please refer to the following sections of the Graduate School Handbook:
7.4 - Candidacy Examination
7.5 - Written Portion of the Candidacy Examination
7.6 - Oral Portion of the Candidacy Examination
7.7 - Result of the Candidacy Examination
The candidacy examination is a single examination consisting of two portions, written and oral, administered under the auspices of the graduate studies committee in conjunction with the student’s candidacy examination committee and the Graduate School.

Candidacy Examination

The written portion of the candidacy examination has two components: 1) a closed book, six hour examination of the students’ knowledge of the chosen track; and 2) a test of ability to apply knowledge both of the chosen track and the remaining core curriculum, to an unstructured problem. These two examinations will be followed by an oral examination. The focus of the oral examination will be the student’s responses to Part A and B. The examination committee will use the oral to explore further the student’s responses to Part A and Part B and evaluate the student’s readiness to embark upon an independent research project necessary to complete the doctoral dissertation. This oral examination will also serve as an opportunity for the student to elaborate upon the responses to Part A and Part B.
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The student must be in GOOD STANDING in the Graduate College and registered for at least three graduate credit hours each semester or session in which any part of the candidacy examination is taken. To be in good standing in the Graduate School, a student must maintain a graduate cumulative point-hour ratio (CPHR) of 3.0 or better in all graduate credit courses and must maintain reasonable progress toward Graduate School or graduate program requirements. A doctoral student who has had two unsatisfactory attempts at the candidacy examination or the final oral examination or professional doctoral examination is not in good standing.


Students must complete a Doctoral Notification of Candidacy Examination form prior to beginning the written portion of the exam. The STUDENT INFORMATION portion of the form should be completed.


If the ORAL PORTION of the exam is scheduled after the form has been submitted to the Graduate School, the date, time and place must be communicated to the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the oral examination date. In cases when a Graduate Faculty Representative is assigned, the Dean of the Graduate School appoints the Graduate Faculty Representative after the Graduate School is notified as to the proposed date for the oral portion. No less than one week before the oral portion, a typed copy of the questions and the student's responses to the written portion of the Candidacy Examination, or the graduate program equivalent, must be presented to the Graduate Faculty Representative by the student or his/her representative.


Material for Candidacy Exam

Syllabi:
Org Theory
PA Thought
Public Sector Economics
Public Management
Public Policy

Exam Study Questions:
Unstructured Problem Sample Questions
Public Management
Public Policy and Economics




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