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Candidacy Examination

The purpose of the candidacy examination stage is threefold. First, it is to ascertain if a student has sufficient skill in analysis and written communication to continue doctoral study; thus, the criteria implicit in the evaluation of a student are based upon potential to acquire the skills expected for successful completion of doctoral study. Second, to make explicit to beginning students the expectations for independent scholarly inquiry. Third, to recommend appropriate courses of action; if a student lacks adequate beginning skills, termination may be recommended or the student's committee may recommend remedial coursework (e.g., technical writing).

The formal candidacy examination consists of three parts: a Candidacy Literature Review; a 10 to 15-minute presentation followed by a question and answer period, both based upon the presentation; and a closing 5-minute summary statement by the student supporting his/her admittance as a Ph.D. candidate. No persons other than the candidate and members of the SPLED Graduate Faculty are allowed to attend the examination. Generally, the faculty meet immediately prior to the examination to review the candidate's GPA and general impressions. After the examination, the candidate is asked to leave the room, while additional discussion occurs and a decision is made.

Candidacy Literature Review

I. Content

  1. The paper will be a literature review. (A research proposal may be substituted with faculty approval.)

  2. The topic should be narrow enough to be thoroughly reviewed within the paper.

  3. The paper should present a review of empirical research drawing on primary sources, with minimal use of testimonial or opinion.

  4. A conceptualization of the state of the literature that organizes and synthesizes, rather than simply reporting it chronologically, is expected.

  5. Generally, the body of the paper should not exceed 20 pages in length. The paper should conclude with a 2- or 3-page statement of implications for future research followed by references, then tables and/or figures.

  6. The paper must be prepared in APA format (refer to the current Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for specific guidelines).

II. Parameters of Faculty Involvement

  1. Faculty may offer general advice on such matters as narrowing a topic, analyzing a body of literature, library procedures, and locating relevant materials.

  2. No specific help can be provided by faculty in the selection of topics or a faculty member's personal analysis of the literature.

Candidacy Evaluation Procedures

I. Scheduling the Examination

  1. The examination will be conducted by midterm of the second semester.

  2. All students will take the examination on the same day.

  3. The Professor-in-Charge (PIC) schedules the exam, after consultation with faculty, no later than midpoint of first semester and also notifies students/faculty of timelines. A memo will be sent to SPLED faculty notifying them of the date of the examination. Great Valley faculty should notify the Program Administrative Assistant at University Park if they will not be available during that time.

II. Submission of Candidacy Literature Review

  1. Submission date options--only one draft of the paper is required, and it must be submitted 2 weeks prior to the scheduled Candidacy Exam. However, if the student wishes to have the opportunity to revise, based upon written faculty comment, the paper should be submitted at least 6 weeks prior to the exam.

    1. If the student does not wish to have the option to revise, the student submits the paper a minimum of 2 weeks before the Candidacy Examination (approximately the 4th week of the semester). SPLED Graduate Faculty make comments and return the paper with signed feedback to Program Administrative Assistant immediately following the oral and before selection of the committee. Program Administrative Assistant retains one copy and provides candidate with one copy prior to committee selection.
    2. If the student wishes to have the option of revision, the student submits the paper a minimum of 6 weeks prior to the Candidacy Examination (approximately the 2nd week of the semester). SPLED Graduate Faculty have 10 working days to make comments and return the paper with signed feedback to the Program Secretary. If the student chooses, he/she may then revise the paper considering faculty feedback. The final draft is due to faculty 2 weeks prior to Candidacy Exam. (See #4-8 below for further guidelines.)
    3. Student will submit one copy of the paper FOR EACH SPLED Graduate Faculty member at University Park and Great Valley. The student is responsible for duplicating copies for the Graduate Faculty and one for the Department file. Papers are submitted to the Program Secretary who will attach the Candidacy Literature Review Form (attached) and disseminate.
    4. Members of the SPLED Graduate Faculty will provide the student with written comments. Comments must include completion of the Candidacy Literature Review Form and may include suggestions noted on the paper itself.
    5. The review form will be signed by the faculty member and returned along with the paper to the Program Administrative Assistant. The administrative assistant will maintain a checklist of review forms/papers and will return these to the student as they are received. Failure by faculty to return paper indicates acceptance of paper as written.
    6. Students are free to discuss the comments and review form with faculty and other students.
    7. Students who elect to revise should return all marked-up copies and review forms to the Program Administrative Assistant along with the final draft. These will be returned to the faculty member who completed the original review.
    8. After each faculty member has completed review of the final draft, he/she will retain forms and drafts and bring to the candidacy exam. These will be given to the student's adviser after the exam.
    9. The adviser will give the Program Administrative Assistant one copy of the final draft plus the Candidacy Literature Review Forms which will be placed in the student's file.

III. Evaluation

  1. Candidacy is awarded on the basis of student performance in three areas.

    1. Examination is evaluated on the basis of the faculty's assessment of the candidate's performance (i.e., both the paper and the presentation) in the following areas (noted also on the Review form): Importance of the topic selected, adequacy of the literature analysis, completeness of the literature review, adequacy of the proposed methodology (if the paper is a proposal), and the general adequacy of the oral performance.
    2. GPA for the first semester of coursework.
    3. Faculty reports on student's course performance and extra course contacts.
    4. The candidate must receive a passing vote from two-thirds of the SPLED Graduate Faculty present in order to be continued in the program. Written absentee votes from Graduate Faculty will be allowed.
    5. The PIC notifies the Program Administrative Assistant whether candidates have passed or failed. The Administrative Assistant will process the Doctoral Candidacy Report and send it to The Graduate School.

IV. Selection of Committee

  1. At the conclusion of the formal candidacy exam, each faculty member will express his/her willingness to advise the student and to serve on the student's committee.

  2. The student may choose his/her adviser and SPLED committee members from among those who have appropriate graduate faculty status and are willing to serve.

  3. Candidates who have passed will make arrangements with Program Administrative Assistant to process the Appointment of Committee form which will then be sent to The Graduate School.

  4. Students must have their committee appointed by the end of the Candidacy semester.