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School of Public Health
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PhD Program in Health Services


Preliminary exam

The preliminary exam is intended to test the student's ability to apply the principles and methods presented in the core health services courses.

The exam is given when the student has completed the core courses, but no later than the end of the second year.

Students who do not pass after two attempts may not continue in the doctoral program; however, they may continue toward a Master degree. Those who pass take a written and oral General Examination to qualify for formal doctoral candidacy.

General examination

The general examination consists of two parts, a written and an oral exam.

Both exams are administered by the student's Doctoral Supervisory Committee. The examination covers the student's chosen area of emphasis; the health services advanced methods courses, and the general topic of the dissertation.

The general examination is designed to:

  1. Measure the student's ability to analyze and synthesize information
  2. Determine whether the student has significant breadth and depth of knowledge in the area of emphasis and the dissertation topic
  3. Evaluate whether the student has adequate knowledge of recent advances in methodological issues relevant to the topic area.

The written portion of the exam concentrates on the student's research area and the methods applicable to study that topic. It is a requirement of the Health Services PhD program. The written exam is usually a 2-week take-home exam, with 4-6 questions.

The oral portion is the official UW graduate school general exam and includes a defense of the dissertation proposal and may include academic areas covered in the written examination. The oral exam is typically two hours with a brief presentation of the project, and response to committee questions.