Comprehensive Exam Preparation

The Genetics Program comprehensive (preliminary) exam for candidacy to the PhD consists of three parts. Each student will prepare a written research proposal on his/her own research project, present a public seminar on the topic, and have an oral questioning period with the guidance committee. Genetics Program graduate students should complete the comprehensive examination during the third year of enrollment as a PhD student. The exam is chaired by the Genetics Program Director, Associate Director, or another faculty member who is not on the committee but is designated by the Director to represent the Genetics Program. This external faculty member will participate in all aspects of the examination. The faculty mentor will participate in review of the written proposal and will attend the seminar, but attendance of the faculty mentor at the oral defense is optional. If the mentor chooses to attend the closed questioning session, he/she should participate only as a silent observer. More information is available in the graduate student handbook. Generally, our students have found it very helpful to have other students read their research proposal, and to practice their seminar for other students prior to presenting it to their examination committee. Part or all of the proposal may be written in conjunction with GEN 840 (Genetics Writing Skills).

Example Research Proposals

Achieving the right balance of background information, preliminary data, statement of hypothesis and goals, and description of proposed experiments in a research proposal can be difficult. It can be helpful to see how other students have accomplished this, especially when their proposals were written at such a relatively early stage in their research. Examples of research proposals