The second‐year qualifying exam is given to allow students to demonstrate their competency in one or more management specialization(s) prior to proceeding to dissertation stage. It is scheduled during the month of May in consultation with the Doctoral Coordinator and the student’s examination committee.
Process and Timing
Step 1: Picking the focus area(s) – No later than March 1 of YR2
Each student must choose one core specialization area (ENT, HSC, MM, OB, OT, or SM) for the exam, and may supplement this with up to two additional focus areas. The number of areas chosen does not affect the length of the exam, just the composition of the questions, but it will necessitate a longer reading list.
Step 2: Building the examination committee – No later than March 15
The student should work with their main advisor to assemble a committee comprising 2‐4 faculty members with expertise in the exam’s focus areas.
If the exam will cover multiple specialization areas, at least half the committee should be from the core specialization area.
Step 3: Building the reading list – No later than April 1
Once formed, the student should then work with their committee to assemble a reading list which will form the basis for the exam. Typically, the student will propose the initial list based on relevant course syllabi and prior second-year exam lists. Extra materials related to the student’s particular area of study should also be added (e.g., if the dissertation focus will be M&A, this topic area should be weighted more heavily on the list).
The initial list is reviewed and approved by the committee members, and is then forwarded to the relevant subgroup coordinator(s) (cc’ing the Doctoral Coordinator) for approval.
Step 4: Scheduling, writing, and defending – No later than July 1
The exam date should be scheduled in consultation with the examination committee for some time no later than July 1.
The exam itself contains multiple questions and is open book / open notes and is delivered and returned via email. Students are typically required to answer certain questions and are provided optional elections among other questions. Students are given between 8‐10 hours to complete their written responses.
The oral component of the exam can be held up to two weeks after the written component, at the committee’s discretion. The oral defense lasts about an hour and the student is asked questions intended to clarify their written responses.
Step 5: Grading
After the oral exam, the committee grants a pass, a conditional pass, or a fail.
“Pass” means that the student is qualified to move to the dissertation stage of the program.
“Conditional pass” means that the student needs a limited amount of remedial work; in this case, the committee will require some additional writing due within one week and may request a follow-up oral exam.
“Fail” means that the student has demonstrated serious deficiencies; in this case, the exam must be retaken and passed before August 15 in order for the student to remain in the program.
Additional Program Information
For Current Students
Doctoral Programs Resources
- Doctoral Forms Library
- Doctoral Inside: Policies and Procedures
- Doctoral Inside: Resources for Current PhD Students
- International Students and Scholar Services
- Independent Study Course Approval Form
Management PhD Guidelines and Requirements