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CCEE Ph.D. Exam Information & Process

All doctoral students must attain candidacy (pass the oral prelim) for the degree within four years of starting their program or after they have completed 48 hours of coursework, whichever is later.  See the Comprehensive Examinations section of the Graduate Handbook for more information.

Written Comprehensive Exam

– The committee decides on the specific format of this exam, and each member of the advisory committee prepares a set of questions for the student’s response, and the answers to each set are returned to the appropriate faculty member for evaluation.

– The questions involved may cover any phase of the coursework taken by the student during graduate study or any subject logically related to an understanding of the subject matter in the major and minor areas of study. The questions are designed to measure the student’s mastery of his/her field and the adequacy of preparation for research.

– Notification of completion. The committee chair(s) must notify the DGP when a student has completed the written examination.  This is done by submitting a written qual exam report which is posted on MyCCEE.  Signatures are acquired by the adviser before being sent to the Graduate Studies Office/DGP.

– The exam is coordinated by the chair of the advisory committee.  The committee prepares the written exam with input from each committee member.  The Department Exam Report is used to inform the Director of Graduate Programs (DGP) of the outcome of the exam.  The exam report should be handled by the committee chair/co-chair or committee member and NOT the student.

– A written exam report must be on file before the approval of the Request to Schedule the Oral Preliminary Exam.

Oral Preliminary Exam

The student prepares a written proposal and submits it to the committee before the exam, typically one week prior unless otherwise specified by the committee.  Read the detailed and important information on the Preliminary Oral Exam in the Graduate School Handbook

The PhD Preliminary Exam must be formally scheduled through the Graduate School.  The deadline for scheduling exams is 10 days before the exam date.

  1.   Complete the Request to Schedule Oral Exam (Preliminary or Final) Form.  Forms must be submitted to the Graduate School at least 10 days before the exam date.  The form must be sent to Jodie Gregoritsch (
  2.   Plan of Work must be approved.
  3.   Written PhD Exam Report must be on file with the Graduate Studies Office.
  4. The student and advisory committee will be notified of the approved request via a Google Calendar Event Notice.
  5. Forms needed for the exam will be included in a calendar event notification sent out by the GSC (Jodie).
  6. The advisor/Chair will create a Zoom Meeting link and share it with Jodie for the exam announcement.  Conference room reservations can be made through the GSC (Jodie).

Final Oral Exam

Scheduled after the dissertation is complete except for such revisions as may be necessary as a result of the exam, but not before all required coursework has been completed. The final oral presentation (dissertation defense) is announced by the graduate programs office and is open to graduate students and faculty.

  1. Complete the Request to Schedule Oral Exam (Preliminary or Final) Form in consultation with the advisory committee.
  2. Submit via email the completed form to the Graduate Services Office ~ jagrego2@ncsu.eduThe Request to Schedule Form MUST be received by the Graduate School at least 10 days before the exam date.
  3. The student and advisory committee will be notified of the approved request via a Google Calendar Event Notification from the GSC (Jodie).
  4. Forms needed for the exam will be in the calendar event description area.
  5. Zoom links should be created by the committee chair so that they can manage the meeting as the host.  Conference room reservations can be made through Jodie.
  6. Graduate Plan of Work:  Make sure your graduate plan of work is up-to-date and correct.  If revisions/updates are needed, email Jodie to request the plan be released.

Note:  The defense itself does not have a deadline.  Defenses should take place with time enough for any suggested edits by the committee or the receipt of a conditional pass to meet the ETD Deadlines.

Exam Result

Conditional Pass. The student may be passed on condition of the student meeting specific requirements defined by the committee. The conditions may be based on the defense itself, or they may be connected directly to the thesis/dissertation. The examination is not complete until all conditions have been satisfied and that fact has been reported to the Graduate School.

Unconditional Pass. A unanimous vote of approval of the advisory committee is required to pass the final oral examination. An unconditional pass signifies that the student successfully defended and that the thesis/dissertation is complete, except for minor editing.

Once a student receives an unconditional pass on the final oral exam, they should do the following as soon as possible:

  1.  Carefully review the ETD Process
  2. Submit the ETD Draft (see the information on the ETD link above)
  3. Apply to Graduate


Additional Forms:

External/Consultant Appointment Form

Inter-Institutional Appointment Form