Comprehensive Exam in Molecular Medicine


The comprehensive exam in Molecular Medicine conforms to the format required by the College of Graduate Studies (COGS).  COGS recommends that students complete their comprehensive exam by the end of the second year of enrollment (i.e. the sixth semester) and requires that it is completed by the end of the student’s third year (i.e. the ninth semester).

The exam is based on a 5-10 page written research proposal on the student’s proposed dissertation work, developed in consultation with the Advisor and Advisory Committee.

The purpose of the exam is to test the student’s understanding of their specialized field of study. As part of the requirement, students should demonstrate an adequate grasp of the primary literature in the area of specialization and must be familiar with basic concepts, paradigms, and methodology underlying that literature. Students must also demonstrate an ability to formulate plausible, original experiments in the field of specialization. The Advisory Committee will evaluate whether the student exhibits these skills at a level appropriate for a student beginning their training in a specialized area.

The exam will consist of the following format:

  • Written exam consisting of up to 5 questions administered over one day (although students may take less time)
  • A two-hour oral exam held within 5 weeks of the written portion

The exam questions will be written and graded by the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee will appoint an Exam Chair to administer the written exam and compile grades prior to the oral exam. The student’s major Advisor is not eligible to serve as Exam Chair.  A Dean’s representative appointed by the COGS will participate in meetings to discuss the exam and attend the oral exam.

 Grading will follow the following scale:

  • +1 = Very good to outstanding
  • 0 = Minimally acceptable to average
  • -1 = Unacceptable

A cumulative score +1 is required to pass the written exam and advance to the oral exam. The oral exam will be graded on the same scale:

  • +1 = Very good to outstanding
  • 0 = Minimally acceptable to average
  • -1 = Unacceptable

A +2 cumulative score is  needed to pass both parts.