First Year Comprehensive Exam
At the end of the summer of the first year, PMCB students take a written comprehensive exam that tests their ability to think scientifically using concepts covered during the first year of coursework. The comprehensive exam is prepared by the PMCB Examination Committee. The exam is divided into two parts. The first part of the exam gauges the student's ability to read and interpret scientific literature. For this part of the exam, students are provided with four journal articles two weeks prior to the test. The second part of the exam consists of a series of questions requiring essay-style answers that gauge the student's grasp of the core concepts of biochemistry, genetics and cell and developmental biology (CONJ 661 - 664 or 670/671 as appropriate). Students are tested on their ability to interpret the data, explain methodologies, identify strengths and weaknesses, and integrate the results of the paper into the larger fields of molecular and cell biology.
The 2016 Comprehensive Exams are yet to be scheduled but will be held in early July.
Second Year Qualifying Exam
By the end of the second year, and when required classes have been completed, students undergo the qualifying examination. This examination consists of two parts, a written examination based on the requirements of their chosen degree-granting program, and an oral defense. Both portions of the exam are evaluated by a PMCB Departmental Exam Committee consisting of five faculty members, three of which are members of the student's intended program and two from other programs. In addition, a member of the PMCB steering committee may attend the examination as a non-voting observer. The student is expected to answer questions regarding the scientific background, rationale, and methodologies of the proposal. Upon successful completion of both portions of the qualifying exam, the student is advanced to candidacy.