For the latest COVID-19 campus news and resources, visit

Search Close Search
Search Close Search
Page Menu

Qualifying Examination Guidelines

Purpose:  The goals of the qualifying exam (QE) are to: 1) Assess the student’s knowledge of basic science and cancer biology; 2) Evaluate the student’s ability to formulate a specific hypothesis; and 3) Evaluate the student’s ability to develop a research plan to test this hypothesis in a grant proposal format.

Proposal Topic:  The topic of the QE proposal is usually related to the student’s thesis research project, although an unrelated topic is also acceptable.  The student will generate a hypothesis based solely upon current findings in the thesis research lab or in the literature.  Additional preliminary data to support the hypothesis are not required and should not be included in the proposal. 

Qualifying Exam Committee:  The QE committee will consist of a minimum of 4 faculty members, including the Chair and the General Examiner. Only the Chair of the QE committee must be a member of the Cancer Biology Program. The thesis advisor cannot be a member of the QE committee. The General Examiner will be assigned by the GSBS (see attached information about General Examiners). The student should consult with their thesis advisor to select the members of their committee and chose a Chair.  Once the committee members have agreed to serve on the QE, the Qualifying Exam Committee Selection Form should be completed and submitted to the GSBS office.

Qualifying Exam: 

Please refer to GSBS student handbook for guidelines for the Qualifying Examination:

QE Coordinator: Leslie Shaw, Cancer Biology Department, LRB 409, 6-8675