Master's & PhD Exam Process


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Master's Exam Process

Committee assignments and updtes are initiated by the student. Update to adviser and/or committee should be submitted at least one month prior to any examination to allow time for processing and updates to the record. Committee approval routes to 3 different people before the committee is assigned.

Master's Final Examination

Final Exaimination Committee

The student, after consultation with their advisor, submits a suggested list of faculty to serve on the Master's Final Exam Committee. At least two members of this Committee must be members of the AEM graduate faculty and one additional outside member representing another graduate faculty department. If a student has chosen a minor field, the faculty member from that field will serve as the outside examiner for the final exam. The faculty suggested must have been contacted in advance by the graduate student to insure their willingness to participate (if selected) in the student's examination. Committee assignments and updates are initiated by the student via an online request form at least one month prior to the examination. The Director of Graduate Studies and the College will make the final approval of Examination Committee members. To request or update your examination committee and for further information about committee rules and membership see http://www.grad.umn.edu/students/examiningcommitteesnew/index.html

Plan A:A student's Graduate Degree Plan must be submitted at least one semester before the Plan A thesis defense. The Plan A committee reviews a student's thesis and determines when it is ready for the final oral examination. The advisor and the other committee members must be notified that the thesis will be delivered on a particular date, at least two weeks in advance of that date. All members of the examining committee must then have at least two weeks to read the thesis after it has been delivered. The committee certifies that the thesis is ready for defense by signing a Thesis Reviewer's Report. This form is included in the graduation packet and can be requested on line any time after the graduate degree plan has been approved by the program and entered into the student's records by the GSSP office. The Thesis Reviewer's Report form should be given to the committee members for signature. The same committee will also serve as the final oral committee. The "Final Examination Report" form must be obtained from the GSSP office before the final oral examination, which is scheduled with the committee members. The committee indicates the student's performance on this report form. The student is then responsible for bringing the form directly over to the GSSP office, 333 Robert H. Bruniniks Hall. The student must also supply the GSSP office with two unbound copies of the thesis, including any changes required by the committee. The Graduate School web site has information about formatting of the thesis. The degree will be awarded on the last day of the month indicated on the student's Application for Degree providing that all requirements have been met. More information on the procedures for the Final Oral Examination can be found here.

Plan B:Master's Thesis or Plan B Project All students who complete a Plan A Master's Thesis must file a digital copy of the thesis with the University in accordance with University standards. Students may request that the University embargo publication of the thesis for a limited period of time. For thesis formatting and submission guidelines see: http://www.grad.umn.edu/current- students-graduate-student-services-progress/thesis-submission The Plan B project, as required by the graduate faculty in the field of Food Science, is done by the candidate in lieu of a Master's thesis. The intent of the Plan B project is to give the candidate some chance to do work (independent of courses) which should be of the quality of graduate study. It is equivalent to 120 hours of work or three full weeks of research and writing. It should consist of one of the following options which are intended to familiarize the candidate with the tools of research or scholarship in the field and serve to demonstrate the ability to work independently:

  1. The student may do an equivalent amount of library or laboratory research and write a research report to satisfy the requirement as approved by the advisor. This may take the form of a research proposal.
  2. The student may prepare one paper equivalent to 120 hours of work in one advanced course, over and above the normal course requirement as approved by the instructor in consultation with the advisor. This course must be from the major field of interest.

The graduate degree plan must be submitted at least one semester before the Plan B project defense. The student and advisor should discuss appropriate members for the committee; verify that they have graduate education responsibilities and that they are willing to serve. The student should then go online to appoint them to the committee after the graduate degree plan has been approved. This is the committee that will serve as the final oral exam committee. The exam will include a presentation of the student's project and discussion with questions and answers. The duration of the exam will be approximately one hour. The "Final Examination Report" form should be obtained and brought to the exam. This form is included in the Graduation Packet which can be requested any time after the graduate degree plan has been approved by the advisor, DGS and college and entered into a student's record by the GSSP office. The committee members will indicate their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the defense by signing the form. The signed form should then be returned to the GSSP office, 333 Robert H. Bruninks Hall.

Final Examination Procedure:

The student's advisor and other members of the Final Examination Committee must be notified at least two weeks in advance that the thesis or Plan B project will be delivered on a particular date. All Examining Committee members must have at least two weeks to read the thesis or Plan B project after it has been delivered. The Committee will determine if it is ready for defense.

The student schedules the exam date, time, and room in consultation with their advisor and committee members. The forms needed for the exam are included in the Graduation Packet which is requested online from the GSSP office up to one month before the final exam. Every member of the final examination committee must certify on the master's thesis reviewer's report that the thesis or project submitted in lieu of a thesis is ready for defense before the final examination may take place.

All members of the committee and the student must participate in the final examination. Committee members and/or the student may participate remotely as long as all conditions for remote participation in examination are met. http://www.policy.umn.edu/Policies/Education/Education/DOCTORALPERFORMANCE_APPA.html

For students submitting a Plan A thesis or Plan B project/paper, the final examination must contain an oral component. The final oral examination is a closed examination open only to the final oral examination committee and the student. The candidate for a Master's degree, Plan A or B, must pass the final oral examination of not more than 2 hours length. The oral presentation should not exceed 20 minutes, if given uninterrupted, and should cover, in the case of a Plan A these, research objectives, important results and the significance of the findings.

A majority vote of an examining committee is required to pass the master's final examination. If revisions are required as a condition of passing, the advisor/s must certify that the revisions have been completed before the degree is awarded. If the student fails the final examination, he or she may retake the examination only if all committee members, or all committee members save one, approve this option. The second attempt to pass the master's final examination must use the same committee members as the first examination unless an emergency situation necessitates a substitution. If the committee does not approve a retake, or if the student fails the second attempt, the student will be terminated from the program.

Plan C: The Plan C does not have a final oral exam. Students do however need to submit a Plan C final exam form. This form should be brought to the Graduate Program Assistant in 107 AkerH for DGS approval.

Graduate School Master's Committee guidelines please click here

For complete instructions and to launch the electronic form to select your committee, please click here

Students do not need to schedule Master's Final Exam with the Office of Graduate Student Services and Progress (GSSP).

All forms required for the Master's Final Exam will be in the student's grad packet.

  • Plan A
  • Thesis Reviewers Report form
  • Final Examination form
  • Students can turn in both the Reviewer's Report and the Final Exam Report at the same time.
  • Plan B
  • Final Examination form
  • Plan C
  • Final Examination form

PhD Exam Process

Doctoral Preliminary Written and Oral Examinations

Committee Selectio

Each doctoral student must pass a written examination and a preliminary oral examination in the major field. The student, after consulting with their advisor, will choose his/her Committee in the first year of study. The Committee will consist of individuals on the graduate faculty of the University of Minnesota who have familiarity with the thesis subject area.

The doctoral preliminary oral committee must consist of at least four members, including the adviser/s. All members of the committee and the candidate must participate in the preliminary oral examination.

  • At least three members (including the adviser) must be from the student's major field.
  • At least one member must represent a field outside the major
  • If the student has declared a minor, at least one member must be represent the minor field.

The faculty suggested must have been contacted in advance by the graduate student to insure their willingness to participate (if selected) in the student's examination. Committee assignments and updates are initiated by the student via an online request form at least one month prior to the examination. To request or update your examination committee and for further information about committee rules and membership see this link: http://www.grad.umn.edu/students/examiningcommitteesnew/index.html

All forms required for the Prelim Oral must be picked up from the Office of Graduate Student Services and Progress (GSSP). The student will receive an email when the forms are ready to be picked up. Final Oral Examinations forms, Thesis Reviewers's form will be in the student's graduation packet. The Final Oral Exam Report form must be picked up from the Office of Graduate Student Services and Progress (GSSP) in person.

Prelim Oral Examination Committee

Preliminary Oral Examination

To formally be admitted to Ph.D. program, a student must pass the preliminary oral examination. Once the written report has been approved by the committee, the graduate program assistant will notify the GSSP office. Upon approval of the graduate degree plan which was previously submitted, the student will need to schedule the Preliminary Oral Exam with the GSSP office. The GSSP office will send a "Report of Preliminary Oral Examination for Doctoral Candidates" form to the chair of the examining committee. The examining committee must vote either unanimously or 3 to 1 to pass the student. Another possibility may be 'passed with reservations', in which case the committee will inform the student in writing within one week of what is required to remove the reservations. Students who fail the examination may be terminated or may be allowed, upon unanimous recommendation of the committee, to retake the examination, provided the original examining committee conducts the reexamination. No more than one reexamination is allowed. More information on conducting the Oral Preliminary Examination can be found here.

For complete instructions and to launch the electronic form to select your committee, please click here

Final Oral Examination Committee

The doctoral final oral committee must consist of at least four members, including the adviser/s. All members of the committee and the candidate must participate in the final oral examination. Typically, members chosen for the Prelim Oral Exam are kept for the Final Oral Exam. However, the student will need to the committee to be approved yet again.

  • At least three members (including the adviser) must be from the student's major field.
  • At least one member must represent a field outside the major
  • If the student has declared a minor, at least one member must be represent the minor field.
  • Members cannot satisfy the requirement with respect to more than one field.
  • Committee is not required to include the same members who served on the prelim oral committee.

Thesis Reviewers for Final Oral Examination

  • A minimum of 2 major field reviewers and 1 minor/outside reviewer are required. In the case of multiple minors, there must be a reviewer for each minor.
  • Adviser/s must serve as reviewers.
  • Every designated reviewer on the doctoral dissertation reviewer's report (available in your grad packet) must certify that the dissertation is ready for defense before the doctoral final oral examination may take place.

Committee Membership Information

For complete instructions and to launch the electronic form to select your committee, please click here

For complete information on Doctoral Committees please visit here

Prelim Oral Scheduling

  • The student must schedule the preliminary oral examination with Graduate Student Services and Progress (GSSP) online as soon as a date is set, but no later than one week prior to the examination. Depending on when the student schedules their Prelim Oral will determine if the Reviewers' Report Form will be mailed via campus mail to the chair or if the student will have to pick it up from GSSP in 160 Williamson.
  • Once the student schedules online, a confirmation email will be sent to the student's UMN email account.
  • Upon initial review of the student's record, an email will be sent to the student's UMN email account regarding any outstanding preliminary oral exam requirements, and how to fulfill those requirements.
  • About one week prior to the exam, an email will be sent to the student's UMN email account confirming authorization of the exam or reminding the student of remaining outstanding requirements.

For complete instructions and to schedule your Prelim Oral, please click here

Doctoral Final Oral Exam Scheduling

  • The student must schedule the Final Oral Examination with the Office of Graduate Student Services and Progress (GSSP) online as soon as a date is set, but no later than one week prior to the examination.
  • Once the student schedules online, a confirmation email will be sent to the student's UMN email account. The student will also receive an email with a link to print the Reviewers' Report Form. The student must print this document and obtain the signatures from their Thesis Reviewers.
  • At least one week prior to the exam, an email will be sent to the student's UMN email account that will include information regarding outstanding requirements and/or the status of the Final Oral Examination form.
  • Submit Reviewers' Report form (sent via email), signed by reviewers to 333 Robert H. Bruninks Hall prior to the start of your Final Examination. When the student turns in the Reviewers' Report form they student will be given the Final Oral Exam Report Form.
  • Submit the Final Oral Examination Report to Office of Graduate Student Services and Progress (GSSP) on or before the last business day of the intended month of degree completion.

For complete instructions and to schedule your Final Exam, please click here

Doctoral Final Examination Procedure

The doctoral final oral examination must include:
-A public presentation of the candidate's dissertation to the doctoral final oral examination committee and the invited scholarly community. (1 hour)
-A closed session (open only to the doctoral final oral examination committee and the candidate) immediately following the public presentation. (2 hours)
To be recommended for the award of the doctoral degree, all committee members, or all committee members save one, must certify that the student has passed the doctoral final oral examination. Students are not allowed to retake the final oral examination.

Submission of the Doctoral Dissertation

All students who complete a doctoral dissertation must file a digital copy of the dissertation with the University in accordance with University standards. Students may request that the University embargo publication of the dissertation for a limited period of time. For thesis formatting and submission guidelines see:


If you should have any problems with your committee or scheduling please contact Graduate Student Services and Progress Office

  • 333 Robert H. Bruininks Hall, 222 Pleasant St SE, Mpls 55455
  • Phone: 612-625-3490
  • Fax: 612-626-1754
  • gssp@umn.edu
  • Office Hours: Monday-Friday,8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

TBD, Aerospace Graduate Program Level Coordinator

  • 107 Akerman Hall
  • 612-625-2702
  • At this time notify the main office by emailing aem-dgs@umn.edu