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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).
You just gotta love it … One of the nifty features of WordPress is that once you go to your dashboard (according to how you’ve set things up) you can check out how people have landed on your blog, how many and what search terms or pages were used to get to the blog. I usually get between 20-50 visits a day, especially after a new post is published. And the reason I’m glad people visit here (even if comments are sparse) is that I get this sense that the blog-o-sphere comes in SUPER handy when it’s time for your to consider going to grad school, get into grad school and scary things happen, or are almost out the door and have little to no counseling, or are afraid to ask “silly” questions (there’s no such thing as silly question … unless you’re just super clueless by nature).
I’ve done other Q and A “sessions”, or search term posts before. You can access them here, and here. And since we’re in February, which I suspect will start a new season of theses defenses, and students scrambling to get done and walk the walk, I decided to do the 3rd installment of the Search Term series. Periodically I gather search terms from those lovely WP stats and select the ones which either tickle me the most, or were similar enough to the worries I had last year as I was getting ready to defend. Or are worries I’ve heard before, and have given advice. I offer my honest opinion, and if I have no clue of what to answer I’ll say so. Without further ado … here we have the Feb 2010 installment of Search Terms.