General Exam: Polymer

Written Exam:

 What are the pre-requirements?

  • Graduate students in the polymer division are expected to take and pass (B average grade) the following graduate courses for credit prior to taking the written exam: Polymer Synthesis (CHEM 5380), Polymer Physical Chemistry (CHEM 5381), Polymer Characterization I (CHEM 5382) and Polymer Characterization II (CHEM 5384).

When in my PhD timeline should I take it?

  • The polymer division requests graduate students to take these courses from the first semester along with proficiency courses. If a student has to complete 4 proficiency courses then the division requests them to start taking the polymer courses from the second year. Polymer division courses are offered in Fall and Spring, however, the division requests the students to take the synthesis and physical chemistry courses first unless the student has taken polymer courses during undergraduate or master’s degree. Based on these ideas, polymer division students can take the written exam as soon as they complete all the four polymer courses.

When during the year is it offered? How is it announced? How much advanced notice is given?

  • The written exam is generally offered twice a year (Dec-Jan and May-June). The student (and advisor) should contact the division chair and a date for the exam will be set about a month in advance.

What is the format? How long does the exam take?

  • Constructed from questions selected by the general examiner from those submitted by interested faculty and
  • The written exam is split in morning and afternoon sessions, three hours each. The questions may be open and closed book based on the core courses as well as polymer seminars and important literature.

Oral Exam:

 What are the pre-requirements?

  • The students should have passed the written exam.

When in my PhD timeline should I take it?

  • The student can take the oral exam as soon as the written exam has been completed. Most students are required to complete the oral exam in the third year.

How soon after I’ve completed the written exam should I take it?

  • The oral defense of the prospectus should be scheduled within 9 months of the written general exam

How long should the presentation be? What should I cover?

  • The presentation should be 30-45 minutes and should cover research goal, state of the art in the research field, novelty of proposed work, detailed work plan and some initial results. This presentation may be based on their thesis work.

 Which (and how many) faculty members must attend the exam? What is the role of the general examiner?

  • Five faculty members including one general examiner must attend the exam. The general examiner questions the student on basic chemistry topics.

When do I give my committee a copy of my proposal? How many days in advance of the exam?

  • The written proposal must be submitted to the student’s advisory committee at least seven days before the oral examination

What is the format for the proposal document (sections, number of pages, etc.)?

  • The thesis prospectus should conform to the graduate school guidelines; include a literature survey, preliminary results and a statement of the thesis.
  • The prospectus should be written with due consideration for the principle that a thesis is the student’s original contribution to the literature and is a single author publication. In that spirit, the prospectus must defend points of originality and differentiate the proposed effort from current and prior work in the advisor’s laboratory