Guidebook

Junior qualifying examination

Students must pass the junior qualifying examination (junior qual) administered by the major department or interdisciplinary committee before being allowed to begin a thesis in the senior year. The examination shall take the form of a written or oral examination, or an essay newly written for this purpose, or a combination thereof. The examination may include, but shall not be limited to, a thesis proposal. In setting this examination, the faculty does not expect that a student’s preparation for it will draw a substantial amount of time away from his or her regular work.

The objectives of the qualifying exam are to gauge the student’s mastery of the discipline (and, in some cases, related disciplines), to serve as a diagnostic aid in identifying weaknesses in the student’s preparation for advanced study or thesis work in that discipline, to assist the student in unifying the knowledge of a major field of study, and to assist the department or interdivisional committee in assessing the effectiveness of its own program.

This examination is held in the semester preceding the student’s thesis year. Students who are on a leave of absence or planning to apply for readmission must make arrangements with the department or division to take this examination before registering for the fall (or first) semester of the thesis year.

A student can be awarded a pass or a conditional pass, or can fail the exam. A student who fails or who passes conditionally may be required to satisfy certain conditions or may be re-examined either before the next semester has commenced or after the completion of at least one additional semester of study. It is possible that a student who does not demonstrate competence in a field may be required to take further work in that discipline or be asked to take more time before beginning the thesis in order to further develop the capability for the sustained independent work of the senior thesis. A second failure shall debar the student from candidacy for a degree in that department. A student may, however, take the qualifying examination in another field.

A student may not register for thesis with a specific thesis adviser until he or she has passed the junior qual.

(last modified: February 27, 2014)