Doctoral Candidacy

Comprehensive Examination

To be considered for doctoral candidacy, students must pass a comprehensive examination in the student's area of specialization. The exam is typically given following completion of all course work (approximately two years of post-Master's study). The focus of the exam is a student-written research proposal, the topic of which is determined by the examining committee. Faculty on the examining committee will include at least three faculty members from Exercise Physiology.

The examination is comprised of both a written proposal and an oral defense. The written portion of the examination must be successfully completed prior to the scheduling of the oral exam.

The outcome of the examination will be recorded as one of four outcomes:

  • Pass
  • Pass with Contingencies
  • Re-take
  • Fail

Students who fail the comprehensive examination a second time are dismissed from the program.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students are advanced to doctoral candidacy after completion of the following:

  1. The student has passed the comprehensive examination.
  2. The student and their supervising professor must recommend to the Graduate Adviser the names of four faculty members (three departmental and one from outside department) whom they would like to have appointed to the dissertation committee. The student should contact the Graduate Coordinator for assistance in completing the necessary paperwork for advancement to candidacy. Only after the student has been advanced to candidacy and has the approval of the supervising professor, will the student be permitted to register for dissertation hours.


Under the direction of the Supervising Professor and Dissertation Committee, the student will prepare a written dissertation proposal and make an oral presentation of it to the Dissertation Committee. Interested students, faculty, and especially Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) members are also encouraged to attend the proposal presentation.  However, a quorum of the GSC is not required. The proposal will include an appropriate literature survey, extensive methodology, and preliminary results. The proposal should be presented following completion of the comprehensive exam.

The dissertation is required of all candidates and must be an original contribution to scholarship based on independent research in the major area. It is expected to be a significant contribution to the body of the current research. Writing of the dissertation will be supervised by the Dissertation Committee, which is appointed by the Graduate Dean and will include the Supervising Professor, and at least two other members from the Exercise Science faculty. At least one member must be from outside the departmental Graduate Studies Committee.

Final Oral Examination (Defense of the Dissertation)

The candidate must present a formal seminar on the dissertation research as a part of the final oral examination. All interested faculty members and graduate students will be encouraged to attend the formal seminar and to ask questions about the candidate’s research.

Evaluation of the candidate’s performance will be decided by members of the Dissertation Committee. It is the responsibility of the student and the supervising professor to schedule the formal seminar through the office of the Graduate Adviser.

Time Limits

All completed work that is included in a doctoral student’s degree program at the time of admission to candidacy must have been taken within the previous six years (exclusive of a maximum of three years of military service).

The Graduate Studies Committee will review the program of students who have not completed the degree at the end of three years from admission to candidacy. The committee will review the status of the student’s program yearly thereafter. At those times, the committee may recommend additional coursework, further examinations, or termination of candidacy. In addition, the program is subject to review by the graduate dean.