testing "general" knowledge at the graduate level

Majumder lab jhmorris at utmdacc.mda.uth.tmc.edu
Thu Aug 22 16:22:10 EST 1996

(Sarah, I'm sending this to you because I keep getting my stuff bounced
from the newsgroup.  If you don't see this message there, could you please
forward it?)

> When I took the orals - we walked five miles, in the snow, and we liked
> it... :)  Of course - my old boss recalls having to master German and
> being tested on that too.  Oh dear.

In my graduate department, we have three elements to the candidacy exam. 
First, the proposal:  the student writes three abstracts (usu. only one
has to do with his project) and submits it to a set committee to chose. 
The committee choses about which abstract the student should write.  Then
he writes an NIH-style proposal.  

Then the oral presentation of the proposal and defense of the proposal. 
At my exam, each member of my exam committee( 5 people, thesis advisor
must NOT be on it) asked one question about my proposal.  Then after that,
each asked one general question, sometimes having to do with their
specialty, sometimes not.  I belonged to a developmental biology
department, and one question I got was:  "Tell me about gastrulation." 
Pretty open-ended.  

It used to be that the proposal was written about the thesis project and
the committee was chosen by the student.  This year, they have the "choose
the abstract" format, and the committee is 5 people, of which 4 must come
from a pool of faculty members.

I like the new system much better.

--Julia Hsi Morris

jhmorris at utmdacc.mda.uth.tmc.edu or zzhao at utmdacc.mda.uth.tmc.edu
Dept. of Neuro-Oncology, Box 316
University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, TX

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