Intercollege Nutrition PhD Program, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
Dissertation Proposal and Comprehensive Exam
(Form 2- Advance to Candidacy)
In order to Advance to Candidacy in the Intercollege Nutrition PhD Program students must meet the written Comprehensive Exam requirement and the Dissertation Proposal Exam requirement. For the Intercollege Nutrition PhD Program these two exams will be combined as described below.
Dissertation Proposal Defense and Comprehensive Exam (Graduate Division Form II): Students are required to defend their dissertation research proposal and pass the comprehensive exam to the satisfaction of their Advisor and selected committee. The Advisory committee should be comprised of four graduate faculty members in addition to the Advisor. One of the graduate faculty members must be a full faculty member from a graduate program other than Nutrition, selected to serve as a university representative.
The purpose of the combined dissertation proposal and comprehensive exam is to determine the student’s comprehension of fundamental nutrition knowledge, expertise in a discipline reflective of their plan of study, and competence in research, effective communication, and critical thinking skills as exemplified in their written and oral proposal defense. The proposal defense and comprehensive exam serves as a capstone that assures that the student demonstrates sufficient research skills and has prepared an independent, feasible research plan, in order to proceed with the dissertation research. This examination can only be completed after the student has passed their qualifying exam and has completed a majority of their required coursework.
The combined dissertation proposal and comprehensive exam will consist of a written dissertation research proposal and an oral presentation of the proposed dissertation research. Proposals should be written to cover the relevant areas of the student’s research work as represented by the student’s Advisory committee members, whose expertise are related to the student’s proposed research. When the student and his/her advisor have determined that the student has reached the point to take the comprehensive and dissertation proposal exam, students should meet with each member of their committee for content area expectations. When the student meets with a committee member, the committee member should provide guidance on the content areas that will be covered on his/her portion of the exam. However, the student should expect that the required content areas are broad in scope.
A recommended format for the written proposal is provided in a section below. Based on the committee member’s preference, the student will provide a paper copy or an electronic copy one month in advance of the scheduled oral defense. The Advisor should apprise the Intercollege Nutrition PhD Graduate Chair of the planned oral defense date.
The dissertation proposal defense and comprehensive exam is prepared by an examining committee composed of the student’s Advisory committee and the exam is administered by the student’s advisor. One week before the oral exam, at the request of the Advisor, the committee members will apprise the Advisor of their assessment of the student’s performance on the dissertation proposal and outline their areas of query relevant to the comprehensive exam. This latter step is to prevent redundancy of topics and allow for postponement of the exam when committee member(s) feel the student is not ready for the Exam.
On the day of the exam, the exam begins with a private session by the examining committee to discuss the written proposal and the order of questioning during the oral exam. When the student rejoins the committee, the student’s oral presentation, which includes a presentation of the proposed dissertation research will commence. After the presentation, questions will be asked by individual faculty members in turn. The Advisory committee members will assess the student’s knowledge of their area of expertise through questions related to the student’s dissertation proposal. The questioning period during the oral exam should not take longer than 3 hours.
At the end of the oral exam, the committee and advisor will discuss the student’s performance on the written dissertation proposal and the oral exam sections. Performance on of the exam will be based on the rubric below (Table 1). The student’s advisor is responsible for ensuring the Intercollege Nutrition PhD Dissertation Proposal and Comprehensive Examination Grading Rubric Form is distributed to and collected from committee members at the time of the exam. If the committee agrees that the performance met or exceeded their expectations, then the student will have passed the Dissertation Proposal and Comprehensive Examination. If the committee agrees that the exam performance was not strong (i.e., did not meet or marginally met expectations), then the student will not have passed the Dissertation Proposal and Comprehensive Examination. The student’s advisor collects the completed Intercollege Nutrition PhD Dissertation Proposal and Comprehensive Examination Grading Rubric Forms from each member of the Advisory committee and tabulates the scores (per instructions on bottom of the Form). The completed forms must be submitted to the Intercollege Nutrition PhD Program Graduate Chair no more than 2 days after the examination.
The examination criteria and procedures will conform to the Graduate Division’s standards for all Mānoa doctorate programs (http://manoa.hawaii.edu/graduate/content/doctorate). A student must pass this exam to achieve candidacy and to remain in the PhD program. The exam is repeatable once after successful petition to the Intercollege Nutrition PhD Program Graduate Chair. After passing the exam the student is eligible to enroll for dissertation research credit (FSHN 800).
Intercollege Nutrition PhD Program Dissertation Proposal Format Guidelines
The Intercollege Nutrition PhD Dissertation Proposal guidelines are available here