27 and a PhD

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Do all schools require a qualifying exam? Search Terms, short answers

Welcome to my blog!

Hello there, awesome reader. My name is Dr. 27. I'm older than that now, but I'm staying faithful to the origins of the blog.

This blog started 2 months before completing my PhD in a pretty southern university back in 2009. It was a way to practice my writing and take a break from all things thesis. My PhD is in a branch of structural biology where I studied some rather impressive stuff.

After completing the degree, I packed my life of 6 years in 3 days and moved to Canada to do a postdoc in a completely different field. Two years later, and after attending a lot of seminars, workshops and doing some much-needed soul-searching, I ended up getting out and looking for an alternative path to academia and industry.

The blog chronicles my mishaps, ideas, musings and tips on entering, staying and finishing grad school. It also talks about some (or a lot) of personal stuff. For a while, the blog became a place to talk about the frustrations of not knowing what to do after PhD. I wanted to explore alternatives to the traditional paths of research (academia, industry and goverment) whilst going back to my field of training (if at all possible). Eventually a job materialized. Follow my quest as I navigate the waters of being a staff scientist at a core facility.

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It’s the first time I’ve gotten this term used to get to my blog, but it’s one that is very, very important. As far as I know, all schools have a qualifying exam of some sort. Some have it in one sweep, others have it in “waves”, so there’s a part 1 which might involve answering questions (written) or presenting a topic and “defending” it in front of an examinating committee, and part 2 can be more focused, although it really depends on the school and which order they do things (they might invert things from what I stated before). If in doubt, always check the department’s website which will more than likely have a list of steps each grad student must complete before being able to work solely on the thesis without any further exams.

My school only had one. You can read more about it here. My BF’s school (where I’m currently a postdoc) has 2 for his discipline, a general one, and a comprehensive one. His department is not the same as mine, nor are our disciplines of study (duh!). In my new department the qual is taken no later than your second year and it’s only one part, related to your field of study (or based upon your proposed thesis research).

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