Qualifying Examination

The second general requirement of the Information Science PhD Program is the satisfactory completion of a Qualifying Examination.

The purpose of the qualifying examination is to allow you as a doctoral student to demonstrate a level of knowledge and skills that enable your faculty advisory committee to determine whether you are sufficiently prepared to end coursework and embark on independent dissertation research.

The qualifying examination has two parts: written and oral. The written examination is scheduled only during fall and spring semesters. It is administered over one (1) week in mid-semester; the dates of qualifying examination are announced via IS PhD Program mailing list and website. The oral portion of the qualifying examination is a public defense of your written examination answers, plus your presentation of a tentative dissertation topic. The oral defense is scheduled when your committee members are available but before the end of the semester in which the written examination is taken.

Planning for the qualifying examination begins at the very beginning of the semester. The Associate Director of the IS PhD Program (Dr. Oksana Zavalina) and the IS PhD Program Staff Coordinator work with your committee to facilitate the process. After reading the Qualifying Exam Procedures and Qualifying Exam Preparation Guide documents, please confirm your intention to take the exam by completing the Qualifying Exam Sign-up Form and submitting it as an email attachment to IIS PhD Program Office (ci-iisphd@unt.edu).

Eligibility for the Qualifying Examination

Students are eligible to engage in the Qualifying Examination when they have:

  • Completed all preparation work as presented in the degree plan with a minimum of a "B" average.
  • Removed any deficiencies.
  • Cleared their records of any incomplete grades.

Qualifying Examination Committee

The student’s Doctoral Advisory Committee works with the IS PhD Program Associate Director to create the set of 12 questions for Qualifying exam. The IS PhD Program Associate Director finalizes examination questions, sets and administers the exam, and IS PhD Program Office keeps approval records of the exam. The Committee, led by the Chair, evaluates and reports to the IS PhD Program Associate Director the results of the qualifying examination.

You must have formed your advisory committee before the beginning of the semester in which you intend taking qualifying examination. The committee must consist of at least four (4) faculty members, one of whom serves as a chair (or two as co-chairs). Members must represent at least two (2) academic units, one of which is UNT College of Information Department of Information Science, and have appropriate graduate faculty status. One member can be external to UNT, provided he/she holds a PhD degree and is approved by the Graduate School.

It is your responsibility to form your own committee. These are usually faculty members who are familiar with you and your work through your coursework or otherwise. When you ask them to serve, be prepared to discuss your dissertation topic in order to help them see how they can contribute their expertise. The Committee Designation form should be completed and signed by all committee members; the IS PhD Program Office submits the form to the UNT Graduate School.

After you pass qualifying examination, the advisory committee often becomes the dissertation committee. However, it is your right to change the committee structure, in which case the Change of Committee form will need to be completed; the IS PhD Program Office submits the form to the UNT Graduate School.


Beginning of semester

Student confirms intention to take qualifying examination with their Committee Chair

Student confirms intention to take qualifying examination by notifying IS PhD Program Office at CI-IISPhD@unt.edu. IS PhD Program Office verifies committee members availability to participate, verifies and sends degree plan and committee designation to UNT Graduate School for approval.

Student sends (1)  summary of research interests, (2) annotated bibliography of scholarly literature relevant to research statement, and (3) draft exam questions to both committee and IIS PhD Program Office at CI-IISPhD@unt.edu.

2 weeks prior

Written examination is constructed by your committee in cooperation with IS PhD Program Associate Director.

Written examination

7th or 8th week of semester (e.g., October 9 to October 16 in Fall 2015 semester, March 4 to March 11 in Spring 2016 semester)

Written qualifying examination is a take-home, open book exam that starts at 9:00 AM Central on Friday and ends at 9:00 AM Central the following Friday. IS PhD Program Associate Director sends exam questions to exam takers via UNT email on the morning of the first day of exam (right before the exam starts).

Student submits answers to IS PhD Program Office at CI-IISPhD@unt.edu.

IS PhD Program Office sends answers to committee members.  

2-3 weeks after exam

Written examination answers are graded (pass/no pass) by committee.

Committee members submit grade for each question to each other and IIS PhD Program Office at CI-IISPhD@unt.edu by the deadline specified for the semester.

IS PhD Program Associate Director notifies student and committee of results.

After notification

Oral defense is scheduled.

After the Student receives results of Written examination and at least two (2) weeks before proposed oral defense date, the Student sends a viable dissertation pre-proposal to committee and IIS PhD Program Office at CI-IISPhD@unt.edu.

IS PhD Program Office works with student and committee to schedule oral defense, reserve room and equipment, and post announcements.

As scheduled

Oral defense with student, committee, and guests.