UCSF

Qualifying Examination

To be eligible to take the qualifying examination, students must pass all of their core curriculum with a grade of B or higher. All required coursework and the biostatistics proficiency requirement must be completed before the exam can be taken. The qualifying exam must be taken by the end of spring quarter of year two. An extension to the end of summer is given to those who TA in spring.

Students prepare a dissertation proposal, which is presented at an oral examination. The purpose is to determine whether the candidate is properly prepared to conduct independent research leading to the completion of a doctoral dissertation. It is not to be regarded as a test of the student’s knowledge of a particular field of interest, though such knowledge must be demonstrated. The student must also demonstrate that he or she:

  1. Understands how to pose a scientific question.
  2. Is able to develop a systematic approach to its solution that incorporates rigorous study design and statistical analysis.
  3. Can interpret the results of that approach concisely and rigorously.
  4. Is able to frame that interpretation both within the context of the system in question and of other related biological systems.
  5. Can apply their knowledge of pharmaceutical sciences, pharmacogenomics and statistics to address significant problems in the field.

Passing the examination leads to the advancement to candidacy for the PhD.