Qualifying Examination

INFO 6660 is intended for Information Science (IS) Ph.D. Program students and is to be taken in conjunction with the Qualifying Examination in the last semester of coursework with the student’s major professor.
Prior to registering for INFO 6660, a student must have:

  • Completed all other required core and methods courses with grades of A or B.
  • Successfully completed a total of at least 42 credit hours of the IS Ph.D. Program (at least 54 graduate credit hours of the 72-hour program option)
  • Officially designated a dissertation committee by competing and submitting the signed Committee Designation Form to the IS Ph.D. Program Office. 

Qualifying Examination Structure 

Written Qualifying Examination

The Qualifying Examination is designed by the Doctoral Committee to ensure that the student is appropriately prepared for embarking on individual independent research. Each student will identify a research topic relevant to student’s specialization, and prepare a written report to be submitted to instructor and committee members via the UNT course management system. The report should include the following:

  • a research topic, a problem statement and research question(s) 
  • an in-depth literature review of the relevant literature grounded in Information Science, which should include review of the following kinds of resources: 
    • those discussing the problem(s) 
    • those discussing methodology for the study of the problem(s) 
    • those reporting the results of research into the problem(s): identify top 5 relevant research papers 
  • a discussion of existing model(s), theory(-ies), and/or framework(s) applicable to the study 
  • theoretical justification and description of a theory or model, description of methods appropriate for researching the topic and answering the research questions, including: 
    • selection and justification of research approach 
    • proposed data collection, sampling, and data analysis technique(s), 
    • discussion of validity and reliability of proposed methodology and its limitations 
    • discussion of significance of the proposed study. 

Grading of the Written Qualifying Examination 

Each student will meet with entire dissertation committee to present and discuss the topic and methodology and to provide critique to the 5 top most relevant research papers on the topic. The criteria for grading will include:

  • Demonstrated grasp of the literature, including the ability to point to specific sources and to link people or groups with ideas. 
  • Demonstrated ability to place ideas in proper historical sequence. 
  • Ability to synthesize and draw out concepts from the literature. 
  • Ability to develop a point of view with respect to the issues discussed and to defend it by reference to relevant literature. 
  • Ability to organize material presented. 
  • Understanding of research approaches and methodology and ability to design a research study.

A simple majority of the student’s Doctoral Committee must pass the student on each question of the Written Qualifying Examination. A Doctoral Committee must consist of at least three and up to five members. If the student does not pass all questions of the written segment of the examination, the student may be asked to rewrite some portions or to retake the exam entirely.

Oral Qualifying Examination

Students are required to pass an oral defense of their qualifying examination by the end of the semester in which a written qualifying examination is successfully completed. The oral defense will be scheduled and administered by the Doctoral Committee within the guidelines established by the IS Ph.D. Program Office.

Qualifying Exam Results

Earning a grade of A or B will indicate that a student has passed the Qualifying Examination. Earning a grade of C, D or F will indicate that the student has failed the Qualifying Examination. Only if the student passes both examinations may he/she be admitted to doctoral candidacy. The Program Office advises the student to consult his or her major professor as to the reasons for the result, and on the options for re-doing the Qualifying Examination, if appropriate, and of the right of appeal or of withdrawing from the program.

If a student fails the qualifying examination(s) on the first attempt, the Program Office will inform the student of the reasons for the failure. The student's Doctoral Committee will then meet with the student to formulate and document a program of study designed to prepare the student to re-take the failed examination(s). The Student Counseling Formand supporting documentation will be filed with the IS Ph.D. Program Office. Upon satisfactory completion of his/her remedial program of study, the student's Doctoral Committee will certify to the IS Ph.D. Program Office that the student is ready to re-take the failed examination.

Retaking the Qualifying Examination

A student will be permitted to re-do INFO 6660 and Qualifying Examination only once except under extraordinary circumstances when the Program Committee may grant permission for an additional attempt at the exam.

In the event that the student fails the oral and/or written qualifying examination(s) a second time or fails to re-take INFO 6660 and the Qualifying Examination the following semester, the Program Office, after notifying the Doctoral Committee, will recommend to the Dean of the Toulouse Graduate School that the student be withdrawn from the Doctoral Program in Information Science.

The final results of the Qualifying Examination will be reported to the Graduate Dean via the Program Office no later than one month from the date of the Oral Qualifying Examination.