Purpose. The purpose of the Candidacy Examination is to assess the student’s mastery of the literature included on the Bibliography approved by her or his committee and to assess, as well, the student’s ability to engage with the philosophical issues that are connected with that literature. Passing the Candidacy Examination admits the student to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree in the Department of Philosophy as specified in the Graduate School Handbook (Section 9-10).
Structure. The Candidacy Examination is a single examination that has two parts: a written examination in an area of philosophy and a subsequent oral examination that may include discussion of the material provided in the written examination. The written examination has two parts.
(i) A critical survey, of no more than 7500 words (including notes), of the literature included on the student’s Bibliography. The student may consult with her or his advisor and seek feedback in preparing the critical survey.
(ii) An original paper, also of no more than 7500 words (including notes), on a subject relevant to the literature included on the student’s Bibliography. It is expected that, in a successful original paper, the central ideas will be original to the student and will not be substantially based on previous work, including the critical survey. The student may consult with faculty while preparing the paper, and may discuss the formulations of specific claims and arguments, but may not receive any feedback on written drafts of the paper or detailed outlines or handouts (e.g. anything longer than a page or so).
The oral examination is a two-hour examination that may include discussion of the written examination. The oral examination will be concerned with the student’s mastery of the bibliographic materials and the student’s facility in dealing with philosophical issues connected with that literature, including issues arising from the critical survey and the original paper
The Candidacy Examination Committee. The Candidacy Examination will be administered and evaluated by a committee of four faculty members: an Advisor, two experts, and a fourth person from outside the student’s area of special interest. The Advisor selected by the student must be willing to serve as Advisor and must be approved by the Graduate Committee; the other members of the committee are selected by the student and his or her Advisor, subject to the approval of the Graduate Committee. Each proposed member of the committee must sign the Departmental Candidacy Examination Committee Form provided for this purpose, which is then submitted to the Graduate Committee for approval; a copy of this form is put into the student’s record. Upon approval, the Advisor of the committee then becomes the student’s Advisor of record. (see Section 1.4 ) The committee administers the oral portion of the Candidacy Examination.
Scheduling. No earlier than the third semester of full-time graduate study and no later than the fourth semester of full-time graduate study (not including summer and May terms)—typically in the student’s second year—the student and the committee will draw up a Bibliography in the area to be covered by the Candidacy Examination. The Bibliography and an Area Statement (a brief statement of the area and issues within that area on which the exam is intended to focus) must be approved by each member of the committee. The student is expected to take the initiative in constructing the Bibliography, and, in consultation with the committee, constructing a tentative draft that is submitted to all members of the committee for final approval or amendment. Committee members indicate approval of the Bibliography by signing the Departmental Bibliography Approval Form provided for that purpose.
Note that the literature review component of the written examination is to be submitted no later than the eighth week of the fifth semester of full-time graduate study (not including summer or May terms) —typically the Autumn Semester of the student’s third year—and that the original paper component of the written examination is to be submitted no later than the second week of the sixth semester of full-time graduate study (not including summer or May terms)—typically the Spring Semester of the student’s third year.
Procedure. After the student has completed the written examination, the committee will read the student’s material and convene for an oral examination of the student no later than the fourth week of the sixth semester of full-time graduate study.
The student must give the graduate school at least a two-week notification prior to the oral exam date. The student should go to: GRADFORMS.OSU.EDU to fill out the scheduling form for the candidacy exam and follow the directions listed at the top. The advisor and the graduate studies chair sign off on this and submit their consent online and then the Graduate School is notified.
If upon completion of the written portion the student should decide not to proceed to the oral portion, the procedures in the Graduate School Handbook are followed and the result of the Candidacy Examination is recorded as unsatisfactory.
Evaluation of the Candidacy Examination. Based on the written and oral examinations, the committee will decide whether the student (a) passes the Candidacy Examination and thereby merits an M.A. degree; (b) does not pass the Candidacy Examination but is allowed to take a second candidacy exam; or (c) does not pass the Candidacy Examination and is not allowed to a second exam, terminating progress in the program. The committee will first vote on (a). If the vote is not unanimously positive, the committee will then vote on (b). If fewer than three committee members vote in favor of (b), (c) is the result. In the case of (b), the committee will determine the appropriate form for the second candidacy exam (within constraints set by Graduate School requirements). That form must be communicated in writing to the student within one week after the result of the initial exam is determined. If a second exam is permitted, it must be completed no later than the end of the semester in which the exam was first attempted, and the committee’s options are limited to (a) or (c). The vote for (a) must be unanimously positive; otherwise, (c) is the result.
If a student is scheduled to take a Candidacy Examination and the student does not successfully petition for an extension of the deadline for taking that examination but also fails to take the scheduled examination, then the student will automatically fail that examination.
Advisors will meet with students within one week after the exam to share general feedback from the whole committee, to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the student’s work in a holistic way, and to discuss future plans.
Doctoral students who have achieved candidacy status are deemed to have:
- Acquired the necessary advanced knowledge of the subject.
- Developed the technical skills for work in the subject.
- Demonstrated the ability to do the research or scholarship necessary to begin work on a dissertation.
Next page: Dissertation Prospectus Examination