Qualifying Examination

  • Requirements
    1. Completion of all required courses, including Introduction to Neuroscience (3 credits), Neuroscience Seminar (2 credits), Laboratory Rotations (2 credits), and Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Lecture (2 credits) in first year.
    2. Completion of Thesis Advisor Record.
  • Timing and Procedure
  • The examination for admission to candidacy should take place no later than the end of February of the second year.
    For students entering with a bachelor’s degree, the examination for admission to candidacy should take place no later than the end of February of the third year (the second year of their Ph.D. program).

      Qualifying Examination Timetable in a Glimpse
      Requirements First Second
      1. Submit a qualifying examination application, including the title and abstract of your thesis proposal Before 5:00 PM on June 1 of first Ph.D. year Before 5:00PM on November 1 of second Ph.D. year
      2. Submit a FULL thesis proposal to the TIGP-INS office Before 5:00 PM on July 31 of first Ph.D. year Before 5:00PM on December 31 of second Ph.D. year
      3. Finish the oral presentation September 30 of the second Ph.D. year February 28 of second Ph.D. year
    1. Students should submit the qualifying examination application with an abstract of their doctoral research project by 5:00 PM on June 1 of the first Ph.D. year.
    2. Upon approval of the abstract, three hard copies and an electronic copy (pdf format) with turn-it-in report of the FULL thesis proposal for the Qualifying Examination Committee should be submitted to the TIGP-INS Office by July 31. Please note that there will be NO EXCEPTIONS to this deadline.
    3. The oral presentation will take place by September 30. This will consist of 40 – 45 minutes of oral presentation by the student, followed by questions from the members of the Qualifying Examination Committee. Exam date will be arranged and announced by INS office.
    4. Applicants may apply for the late examination with the consent form from thesis advisors.
      For late examination, the student must apply by November 1 of the second Ph.D. year, submit a thesis proposal by December 31, and finish the oral defense by the end of February.
    5. Applicants may apply for re-examination due to the following reasons:
      1. Failure to pass the required courses in the first year
      2. Thesis advisors have not been chosen in the first year
      3. Failure to successfully complete the qualifying examination on the first try

      For re-examination, the student must apply by November 1 of the second Ph.D. year, submit a thesis proposal by December 31, and finish the oral defense by the end of February.

    6. Application for postponing the qualifying examination (excluding students entering INS with bachelor’s degrees who are allowed to take the exam after the second year):
      Students may apply to postpone the exam for a half year with following reasons:
      1. Students received both B.S. and M.S. degrees in five years.
      2. Students received the degrees with majors not related to biology (such as engineering or humanity studies).
      3. Other unavoidable conditions (e.g.: long leave due to sickness, change of lab advisor before the exam, etc.…)

      The application for postponing the first exam must be initiated by advisors who can contact the office before filing the application form. The specific reasons have to be clearly described. The application should be submitted along with the thesis advisor Record Form by June 1. The application will be reviewed and approved by the committee, and there is no assurance that the application will be granted. Every student can only apply once for postponing the qualifying exam.

      If the application for postponing the exam is granted, the students are required to apply for the exam by November 1 in the second Ph.D. year, and submit the thesis proposal by December 31, and finish the oral defense by the end of February. For re-examination, the student must apply by June 1 in the second Ph.D year, submit a thesis proposal by July 31, and finish the oral defense by September 30.

    *If you enrolled with a master’s degree on September of 2013, the first Ph.D. year starts from August 1, 2013 and ends in July 31, 2014.
    *If you enrolled with a bachelor’s degree on September of 2013, the first Ph.D. year stars from August 1, 2014 and ends in July 31 of 2015.

  • Qualifying Examination Committee
  • Five to seven experts as members of the Qualifying Examination Committee will be selected by the Degree Examination Committee and appoint one of the members as the committee chair. Thesis advisors will NOT be included in the Committee.

  • Standards for Passing the Qualifying Examination
    1. Two-third (including two-third) of all attending committee members must vote to pass AND
    2. The students must receive a grade point average of at least 70 (out of 100 points) on the qualifying examination.
  • Outcomes of the Qualifying Examination
  • Grade of Qualifying Examination
    Pass The committee concludes that the student has met expectations and passed the exam, as determined by the standards described in Section V. The student will be qualified as a Ph.D. candidate in the program.
    Conditional Pass The committee concludes that the proposal only needs improvement in writing. The student will have 2 weeks to rewrite the proposal and resubmit it to the committee for approval (for first try only).
    Fail* If the committee concludes that the student’s performance is unsatisfactory, he/she may be given an opportunity for reexamination.

    *If the student is not offered re-examination, or if the student’s performance is judged unsatisfactory on the re-examination, he/she should withdraw from the TIGP-INS program.

  • Write your Thesis Proposal
  • The thesis proposal will consist of the following components in order. The text should be typed in Times New Roman 12-point font and single-spaced. The main text (not including pages of title and references) of your proposal should not exceed 13 pages.

    1. Abstract (1 page): Briefly describe the background that leads to the specific aims to be achieved and any hypotheses to be tested. Briefly mention approaches that are to be used to accomplish the above goals.
    2. Specific aims and hypotheses to be tested (1 page): Briefly describe the background. Summarize the major goals of this proposal and what specific research aims are to be accomplished. State any hypotheses to be tested and briefly describe what approaches are to be used.
    3. Background review and significance (2-3 pages): Briefly describe the background and bibliography of major references of this proposal. Critically evaluate present knowledge related to this proposal and specifically identify the gaps in which this proposal intends to fill. State concisely the importance and significance of the research described in this application by relating the specific aims to the overall goals of the proposal.
    4. Research design and methods (8 pages):
      • Describe the research design and the procedures to be used to accomplish the specific aims of the proposal. Describe the rationale of why your designs can accomplish the aims of the proposal, including how the data will be collected, analyzed, and interpreted. Describe any new methodology and its advantage over existing methodologies. This section should NOT be a compilation of procedures and methods. It should be written in a way that original ideas, concepts, hypotheses, innovative strategies, and research design and methods could be readily delineated.
      • Each aim briefly describes what anticipated results would satisfy the original hypothesis and how these results would be important for planning the next steps in the proposal. Discuss the potential difficulties and limitations of the proposed procedures and alternative approaches to achieve the aims.
    5. Reference