PhD in Nutritional Sciences Program, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
Comprehensive Exam and Dissertation Proposal
(Form 2- Advance to Candidacy)
In order to Advance to Candidacy in the PhD in Nutritional Sciences Program students must meet the written Comprehensive Exam requirement and the Dissertation Proposal Exam requirement. For the PhD in Nutritional Sciences Program these two exams will be combined as described below.
Comprehensive Examination and Dissertation Proposal (Graduate Division Form 2): Students are required to defend their research dissertation proposal and pass the comprehensive exam to the satisfaction of their Advisor and selected committee. The Dissertation committee should be comprised of three graduate faculty members in addition to the Advisor. A majority of the committee must belong to the Nutrition Graduate faculty while one of the graduate faculty members must be a faculty member from a graduate program other than Nutrition, selected to serve as a university representative according to the requirements of Graduate Division. The Dissertation committee must be approved by the Nutrition PhD Graduate Program Chair.
The purpose of the combined Comprehensive Exam and Dissertation Proposal is to determine the student’s comprehension of fundamental nutrition knowledge, expertise in any related discipline important to his/her plan of study, and competence in research, effective communication, and critical thinking skills as exemplified in the written and oral Proposal. The Comprehensive Exam and Dissertation Proposal 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 his/her Nutrition qualifying exam and has completed a majority of required coursework.
Proposals should be written to cover the relevant areas of the student’s research work as represented by the student’s Dissertation committee members, whose expertise is related to the student’s proposed research. When the student and his/her Primary Advisor have determined that the student is ready to take the Dissertation Proposal and Comprehensive Exam, the student should meet with each member of his/her Dissertation 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 and integrative in scope.
Comprehensive Examination and Dissertation Proposal Procedures
The combined Comprehensive Examination and Dissertation Proposal will consist of a written dissertation research proposal and an oral presentation of the proposed dissertation research. Guidelines for the written proposal are provided in a section below. Based on the committee members’ preference, the student will provide a paper copy or an electronic copy one month in advance of the scheduled oral Comprehensive Examination and Dissertation Proposal. The student, in consultation with his/her Primary Advisor, should apprise the PhD in Nutritional Sciences Graduate Chair of the planned oral proposal date.
The Comprehensive Examination and Dissertation Proposal is prepared by an examining committee composed of the student’s Dissertation committee and the exam is administered by the student’s Primary Advisor. One week before the oral exam, at the request of the Primary Advisor, the committee members will apprise the Advisor of their assessments 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 should the committee member(s) ascertain the student is not ready for the Exam.
On the day of the exam, the exam begins with a private session of the Dissertation 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 focuses on presentation of the proposed dissertation research, will commence. After the presentation, questions will be asked by individual faculty members in the previously established order. The Dissertation committee members will assess the student’s knowledge of his/her area of expertise through questions related to the student’s dissertation proposal. The oral exam should not take longer than 3 hours.
At the end of the oral exam, the committee will discuss the student’s performance on the written dissertation proposal and the oral exam sections. Performance on the exam will be based on the rubric below (Table 1). The Primary Advisor is responsible for ensuring the PhD in Nutritional Sciences 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 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. Form II should be signed according to this result. The exam is repeatable once after successful petition to the PhD in Nutritional Sciences Program Graduate Chair. After passing the exam the student is eligible to enroll for dissertation research credit (FSHN 800).
The Primary Advisor collects the completed PhD in Nutritional Sciences Dissertation Proposal and Comprehensive Examination Grading Rubric Forms from each member of the Dissertation committee and tabulates the scores (per instructions on bottom of the Form). The completed forms should be submitted to the PhD in Nutritional Sciences 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 (Graduate Division doctoral degree requirements). A student must pass this exam to achieve Doctoral candidacy and to remain in the PhD program.
PhD in Nutritional Sciences Program Dissertation Proposal Format Guidelines
Select the link below: PhD in Nutrition Science Program Dissertation Proposal Format Guidelines