PhD Examinations

Doctor of Philosophy Examinations

Examinations for advanced degrees in the Field of Food Science and Technology serve three primary purposes:

  • To assist the Special Committee and the graduate student in evaluating academic progress
  • To maintain high academic standards for all students in the Field
  • To provide students guidance and incentives for achieving academic excellence

 

In order to better ensure that field expectations are being met, an additional field appointed member will be identified by the Graduate Field Office to represent the Field at Q and A exams. They will have full voting privileges.

The purpose of this extra member is to determine that you be able to put your particular graduate program into the context of food science. This faculty member will be assigned to you when you begin your program. You will consider their calendar when scheduling your exam and include them in your materials distribution.

PhD Q-Exam

The qualifying exam (Q-Exam) is required of all PhD students.

Following the exam, it is the responsibility of the student to deliver the signed examination form showing the results of the exam to the Graduate Field Office.

If the exam is failed, a re-examination is allowable at the discretion of the Special Committee after at least three months have passed.

The Q Exam has the following objectives:

  1. To identify strengths and weaknesses in the student's background for the purpose of selecting a program of courses and other educational experiences best suited for the individual student.
  2. To evaluate the student's qualifications and potential for academic achievement in the program.

These qualifications include:

  1. Competency in basic and applied sciences
  2. Ability to formulate, organize and express ideas
  3. Ability to critically evaluate the food science literature
  4. Ability to speculate intelligently
  5. Skills in written and oral communications
  6. Proficiency in the English language
  7. Commitment to a career in the field of food science and technology

The Q exam is a field required examination; it is not a requirement of the Graduate School.

Students are expected to pass the qualifying examination prior to the beginning of the second semester of their Ph.D. program.

When scheduling a date for the Q exam, be sure to include your field appointed member in the correspondence. They are required to attend the exam and must be allowed input on date selection.

At least one week prior to the exam, submit the Schedule of Q Exam form to the Graduate Field Office AND provide all committee members with the following:

  1. A copy of the paper you are critiquing
  2. A 300-word summary of the paper
  3. A copy of your bachelor degree and Cornell transcripts
  4. A reminder memo with date, time and location of the exam

Examiners will include all members of the student's Special Committee and the field appointed member. In addition, all members of the Graduate Faculty of the Field of Food Science and Technology are invited to attend as non-voting examiners.

The exam may be exclusively oral or both oral and written, at the discretion of the Special Committee, and will include questions pertaining to fundamental concepts and principles pertinent to the student's major and minor fields.

The oral examination will also include a critical evaluation by the student of a paper from relevant research literature with the agreement of the committee chair.
As of September 2014, the paper selected cannot be authored or co-authored by the student’s committee chair or minor members.

Prior to the exam, the student should choose a paper from the literature, critically read the paper and pertinent background material, and prepare a short oral presentation based on the paper.
Copies of the paper should be given
to the examiners at least 1 week prior to the exam.

During the exam, the student will give a ten- minute "seminar" on the paper and then respond to questions related to the paper. Questions may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Why did you choose the paper?
  • What is the significance of the paper for the field of Food Science and Technology?
  • Describe/explain key concepts/principles pertinent to the topic of the paper.
  • What was the main question or objective addressed by the paper?
  • Describe the research design. Was it adequate for answering the question addressed?
  • Describe the methods used. Were they adequate?
  • Summarize results and conclusions. Are the conclusions supported by the data?
  • Describe flaws/pitfalls in the paper.
  • Had you been directing the research described in the paper, what would you have done differently?
  • What future research on this topic would you recommend?

PhD A Exam: Examination for Admission to PhD Candidacy

The A Exam is required for all Ph.D. candidates.

Upon completion of exam, the student must submit the completed results of examination form to the Graduate School.

If the exam is failed, a re-examination is allowable at the discretion of the Special Committee after at least three months have passed.

The A Exam has the following objectives:

  1. To evaluate the student's knowledge and understanding of the subject matter pertinent to the Field of Food Science and Technology, the chosen area of concentration, and the two minor fields.
  2. To evaluate the quality and scientific merit of the student's thesis research proposal.
  3. To admit the student to PhD candidacy (students must be admitted to candidacy before they are eligible to present a doctoral thesis to the Graduate Faculty).

Students may take the A exam after successfully completing 2 units of residence credit.

The A exam must be taken prior to the start of the seventh semester of residence in the PhD program.

Students must submit a scheduling of examination form to the Graduate School at least one week prior to your exam.

Upon completion of exam, the student must submit the completed results of examination form to the Graduate School.

The Graduate Field Office will also need a copy of your exam scheduling form one week prior to your exam and a copy of your exam report form within three business days of the exam.

Examiners will include all members of the student's Special Committee and the field appointed member. In addition, all members of the Graduate Faculty of the Field of Food Science and Technology are invited to attend as non-voting examiners.

The A exam will include a defense of the student's thesis research proposal and questions pertaining to the major and minor subject areas. The student must provide a copy of his/her proposal to each member of the Special Committee at least one week prior to the exam.

The specific format and content of the research proposal to be presented by the student at the A exam varies and is to be determined by the student and his/her committee. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss the proposal format with their committee chair at least 3 months before the A exam date and to also inform the other committee members of the intended format and content of the proposal.

Typical options for the proposal to be presented at the A exam include:

  1. A research proposal that covers the research a student will perform to complete the requirements for their PhD.
  2. A research proposal that relates to the students research project, but includes or focuses on objectives that will not necessarily be part of the student’s PhD project.
  3. A research proposal that focuses on a project unrelated to the student’s PhD project.

Decisions on the proposal content are made considering a number of factors,
including the student’s career goals and the current status of his/her PhD project.

Regardless of the content of the A exam proposal, a student is expected to complete a written proposal that will typically include sections on:

  1. Background and literature review
  2. Rationale and justification
  3. Objectives and experimental design
  4. If applicable, the proposal may also contain a section on “Preliminary results.”

 

Students are strongly encouraged to review a current request for proposals from a group that provides funding in their research area (e.g., USDA, NSF, NIH) and use a proposal format that would be required by one of these funding agencies; an appropriate proposal format should also be discussed with the student’s committee chair.

While the length of a typical proposal should be 10 15 pages (single sided, single spaced, not counting the space needed for references), specific expectations for proposal length also need to be discussed between the student and their committee at least 3 months before the A exam date.

Proposals should not exceed 15 single spaced pages, even though proposals shorter than 10 pages may sometimes be appropriate.

PhD B Exam: Final Examination

The B Exam is required for all Ph.D. candidates.

Upon completion of the exam, the student must submit the completed results of examination form to the Graduate School.

If the exam is failed, a re-examination is allowable at the discretion of the Special Committee after at least three months have passed.

The B Exam has the following objectives:

  1. To evaluate the scientific quality of the PhD Dissertation.
  2. To assess the candidate's ability and preparation for a career as an independent scientist

It is expected that all requirements for the PhD degree, including passing the B exam and filing the dissertation be completed within seven years after the first registration in the Graduate School.

Candidates must earn two additional residence units between the "A" exam and the "B" exam.

The Graduate School thesis advisor has a packet of forms and information needed for students ready to schedule their final exam. Included in this packet is a scheduling of examination form. This form must be submitted to the Graduate School at least seven days prior to the exam.

Upon completion of the exam, the student must submit the completed results of examination form to the Graduate School.

The Graduate Field Office will also need a copy of your exam scheduling form one week prior to your exam and a copy of your exam report form within three business days of the exam.

Examiners will include all members of the student's Special Committee. In addition, all members of the Graduate Faculty of the Field of Food Science and Technology are invited to attend as non-voting examiners.

The "B" exam is oral and covers the topic of the PhD thesis.

All members of the Special Committee must approve the dissertation, and an outline and draft should be given to them at least six weeks before the final exam.

At least seven days prior to the exam, each member should receive a completed, typed copy of the dissertation.
After all of the changes
specified at the exam have been made, and final approval has been obtained from the committee and Graduate School thesis advisor, two unbound copies must be submitted to Graduate School for deposit with the University libraries, and one copy to the Graduate Field Office.

Check with your committee to see how many copies of the dissertation they will require.