Qualifying Examination

Successful completion of the Qualifying Exam is the seventh academic milestone, following Graduate Division approval to take the exam. When passed, this examination marks completion of required course work, mastery of a field of study, and readiness to proceed to the dissertation. Thus, the student may advance to candidacy.

The Qualifying Examination in Social Welfare is a three-hour oral exam addressing student mastery of knowledge related to the declared Fields of Expertise and Dissertation Prospectus. For approximately 90 minutes of the exam, the student will answer questions on their two declared Fields of Expertise. When the Committee agrees that they have had ample opportunity to assess the student's knowledge regarding the two fields, the committee will request a brief (approximately 20 minutes) student presentation that outlines the prospectus. The Committee then proceeds to question the student on his or her dissertation prospectus. 

Considering both the written materials and the student's performance in the oral examination, the committee reports the results to the Graduate Division. The Qualifying Examination Committee ideally will reach unanimous consensus on whether the exam was a pass, failure, or partial failure. If there is no unanimity, the result is a “split vote.” These categories are described in the Guide to Graduate Policy F2.6 Qualifying Examination.

The committee must send the formal Report to the Graduate Division on the Qualifying Examination, signed by all committee members, to the Graduate Degrees Office no later than two weeks after the Qualifying Examination. The committee chair or GSAO should submit the final signed copy of the report electronically through CalCentral on behalf of the student and committee.

If a student sits for the Qualifying Examination but does not pass, the student may be re-examined for a second time. Re-examination must be completed by the same Qualifying Examination Committee, and all QE Committee members must be present for re-examination. The student may not retake the exam until three months after the first exam, unless an exception is approved by the Associate Dean for Degrees. A third examination is not permitted. For additional procedural guidance please also review the Guide to Graduate Policy F2.6 Qualifying Examination.