Ph.D. Oral Candidacy Exam

The oral candidacy exam will be closed-door (just the student and the committee members) and will be based on the subject-specific topics listed in the Graduate Handbook and on the P&A departmental webpage. The student will demonstrate competence in the chosen research area by being able to correctly answer questions on the topics described in the sub-discipline exam topics list. Typical lists of important topics by specialty are given below, although greater specificity may be defined by discussion between the examining committee and the student in advance of the examination.

The current list of knowledge topics by subdiscipline is shown below:

The questions should cover a significant fraction of the topics on that list. The exam may also end up covering basic core physics competency as examiners attempt to guide the student, and the student should demonstrate competence in core physics and/or astronomy topics by satisfactorily answering questions in those areas. The combined duration of the exam and research presentation in one session is to be no more than two hours. The exam by itself should be no more than 90 minutes.

The outside-area member of the student’s advisory committee will keep track of the questions asked and will write up a brief summary for internal department records.