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General Exam

Effective Spring 2016, the Department of Statistics will follow the following format and procedures for the General Exam (GE):

Required Courses:

In order to be eligible for the General Examination (GE), a Ph.D. student must have completed all the following course sequences: Applied Statistics (STAT 5505-5605), Inference (STAT 6315-6515), Linear Models (STAT 5725-6694), and Probability (STAT 6325-6894). This requirement is regardless of the choice of the topic components covered by the GE.


Three Components:

The GE will cover three components: two topic components and a research component. The two topic components will be chosen from Applied Statistics (STAT 5505-5605), Inference (STAT 6315-6515), Linear Models (STAT 5725-6694), and Probability (STAT 6325-6894). Questioning on the research component will be aimed at a dissertation proposal; see point (a) in Notes.


Examining Committee:

The Examining Committee (“Committee”) will consist of a Ph.D. student’s major advisor(s), who will serve as the Chair(s), and three other examining members from the graduate faculty of the Department of Statistics, each of whom will have a major role for examining one of the three components; see point (b) in Notes.


Dissertation Proposal and Research Component:

No later than two weeks before taking the GE, a Ph.D. student will, with advice and permission from the student’s major advisor(s), provide a dissertation proposal to the three examining members of the Committee. Prior to the GE, any member of the Committee may ask the student to prepare additional material under research component for questioning during the GE; see point (c) in Notes. These may cover but may not be limited to (i) background of the research area including motivation, literature search, and necessary tools, (ii) proposed plan of research including methods, possible hurdles, and ideas to handle them, (iii) applications, if any, and (iv) indications of future and related research.



A grade of “pass” or “fail” will be assigned for an entire GE. There will be no “partial pass” of any kind. A Ph.D. student may have a maximum of two opportunities to clear the GE.


Time Line:

A Ph.D. Student must give at least three months notice to the Committee to schedule the GE.



(a) Selection of the two topic components will be made jointly by a Ph.D. student and the student’s major advisor(s). Knowledge in a topic component will be expected to far exceed a level that may be typically required to earn a grade A or A+ in an associated course.

(b) Faculty members serve as examining members after they have received and accepted an invitation by the student to do so. The student’s advisor does not serve as an examining member.

(c) The dissertation proposal will normally be similar to that required by the Graduate School.