Qualifying Comprehensive Exam

In September, after the end of the first full academic year, each student will take a qualifying comprehensive examination covering the material in the courses studied up to that time in addition to basic undergraduate physics. This examination is intended to measure the student's knowledge of the general field of medical physics. This examination will consist of three parts, with appropriate breaks between the portions:

  • a "closed-book" written examination lasting approximately four hours
  • a two-day "open-book" written examination, and
  • a one-hour oral examination attended by the medical physics faculty.

The qualifying comprehensive examination is intended to assess the ability of the student to satisfactorily complete the requirements for the Ph.D. degree. After this examination, the faculty will assign, by plurality vote, one of two grades with the following implications:

  • Pass at the Ph.D. level
  • Pass at the Master's level
  • Fail: The student will be dropped from the program

The exam will be offered only once each year. If a student fails the exam, he or she will be allowed to request permission to retake the exam before the end of the winter quarter.

Dissertation Proposal Hearing

After the student has passed the qualifying comprehensive examination at the Ph.D. level and has obtained the sponsorship of a faculty dissertation advisor and two other faculty members to form a dissertation advisory committee, he or she will prepare a written dissertation research proposal.

This proposal should describe the general goals and specific aims of the proposed research, the background of the research problem, the methods to be used, the anticipated results, and the expected significance of the work.

After the dissertation research proposal has been approved by a majority of the student's dissertation advisory committee, the student will participate in a "dissertation research proposal hearing" to be conducted by the medical physics faculty.

At this hearing, the faculty will determine the suitability of the proposed research topic for a Ph.D. dissertation in the program and will evaluate the extent to which the student is prepared to carry out the proposed research. After the hearing, the faculty will meet to either approve or disapprove the dissertation proposal.

Dissertation Defense Hearing

After all other requirements for the Ph.D. degree have been completed, and after the Ph.D. dissertation has been approved by a majority of the student's dissertation advisory committee, the Ph.D. candidate will be examined orally by the medical physics faculty on the content of the dissertation and the specialized area of knowledge that it concerns.

At the discretion of the faculty, one or more guest examiners from outside the department may be invited to participate. After the final examination, the faculty will meet to assign a grade of Pass or Fail.