Qualifying Exam Committee

The Qualifying Examination (QE) is supervised by a committee of Academic Senate faculty members proposed by you, in consultation with your adviser, and approved by the Dean of the Graduate Division. Each committee member participates in the QE process. The QE will examine students on the (1) two Fields of Expertise and (2) dissertation prospectus; and evaluate the student’s performance in the oral examination. Therefore, the QE Committee must be formed, minimally, in the semester prior to oral examination.  

Per graduate policy on the configuration of higher degree committees, your Qualifying Exam Committee must include the following members:

  1. A QE Chair, who must be a senate faculty member in the School of Social Welfare;

  2. One Academic Senate Representative, chosen from outside the student’s degree granting program (i.e., from another unit on campus); and,

  3. At least two Additional Members.

Your Qualifying Examination Chair cannot be your Dissertation Chair. Your PhD Faculty Adviser is intended to become your Dissertation Chair, and is thus considered one of the two Additional Members of your QE Committee. Two of the four Qualifying Examination Committee members (and a committee membership majority, if your committee is larger) must be senate faculty in the School of Social Welfare. Co-Chairs of the QE are not allowed.

As of October 2020, the Qualifying Exam Committee must include the three Dissertation Committee members. Exceptions to this requirement may be requested in cases where faculty are on leave during the semester of the scheduled Qualifying Examination or for other time-sensitive reasons related to faculty availability. Please submit requests for exception by email to the PhD chair at least one month before a decision is required when the exception is due to a planned faculty leave; requests for other time-sensitive exceptions should be submitted as soon as possible.

Relationship between QE & Dissertation Committee Members

Member #

Qualifying Exam Committee

Dissertation Committee


QE Chair: Social Welfare faculty member; cannot be the dissertation chair

May or may not be on the Dissertation Committee (which requires 2 Social Welfare faculty)


Social Welfare faculty member; dissertation chair/primary advisor

Must be on the Dissertation Committee as chair


Academic Senate representative: Senate faculty member from outside of Social Welfare (i.e,. another department/school)

Must be on the Dissertation Committee as the Academic Senate representative


Senate faculty member (can be from Social Welfare or another department/school)

May or may not be on the Dissertation Committee (which requires 2 Social Welfare faculty)

2 and 3 must be on both the QE and dissertation committees. If both 1 and 4 are Social Welfare faculty, one of them must be on the dissertation committee members. If 4 is not Social Welfare faculty, then 1 must be on the dissertation committee. For more details on possible committee configurations please see Appendix B: Berkeley Social Welfare Committee Configurations that Meet Graduate Division Policy.