Doctoral Preliminary Examinations

Students must complete both the written and oral preliminary examinations. The written prelim is taken prior to the oral prelim. The written prelim can be taken before the GPAS degree plan is approved, but a substantial amount of coursework should be completed. When both prelims have been successfully completed, the student has advanced to doctoral candidacy.

Written Preliminary Examination

The student’s advisor is in charge of administering the written prelim. Questions, which are solicited by the advisor from committee members, may deal with subject matter (i.e., related to courses the student has taken) or be related to the proposed research (i.e., methods, data collection, data analysis, theory). The general form the exam will take is the choice of the committee. Below are some factors the committee may consider:

  • Closed book vs. open book,
  • As few as two questions up to six questions or more,
  • Administration of one question at a time over a period of a week or more, 
  • Administration of all questions at one time.

Upon completion of the written prelim, the graduate program coordinator must be notified and must formally report the result to the Graduate School. Please ask your advisor to report your results to the NRSM program office at

Oral Preliminary Examination

The format of this exam will follow Graduate School guidelines. Consult the Graduate School's Preliminary Exam Committee webpage for specific guidelines and requirements. The oral prelim must be scheduled with the Graduate School at least one week in advance using their online scheduling system. The Oral Preliminary Examination Report form will be issued to the advisor prior to the exam.

The Following milestones must be completed prior to the oral preliminary exam:

The Oral Preliminary Examination Report form must be turned in to the Graduate Student Services and Progress office upon completion of the oral prelim.