All MS students must pass a comprehensive final oral exam or defense of their research thesis at the end of their time in the program. This exam is led by the student’s Advisor and conducted with the Advisory Committee. The purpose of the exam is to ensure that the student has mastered the subject matter of their soil science degree and any minor field and to show that they are able to authoritatively present and discuss their research findings. For complete information please see Section 3.5 Comprehensive Examinations in the Graduate Handbook.
The Master’s oral examination is scheduled by the student in consultation with their Advisor and the Committee. The student must submit a Request to Schedule the Masters Oral Examination to the DGP. The DGP must submit this at least 2 weeks (10 working days) prior to the scheduled date, so the DGP should receive at least 12-14 working days prior to the scheduled exam date. You must have a final, approved Plan of Work and the Patent Agreement submitted by prior to submitting the Request to Schedule. All other requirements except for any courses being taken at that time must be completed.
The Advisory Committee should receive a completed Master’s Thesis at least two weeks prior to the exam.
- Presentation by the candidate. The candidate typically presents the methodology used, the data collected, and the conclusions reached as reported in the dissertation. For the purpose of dissemination of research, it is required that the presentation of the dissertation be open to the university community.
- Questioning of the candidate. Any member of the university community is allowed to ask questions of the candidate during the presentation. The questioning phase continues with a closed session in which the advisory committee questions the candidate.
- Deliberation and decision. Only the advisory committee is present during deliberation as to whether the student satisfactorily passed the exam.
Throughout the process, the chair of the candidate’s advisory committee has the obligation to maintain a scholarly atmosphere and to keep academic integrity and the student’s best interest foremost.
Final Exam Outcomes
Unanimous approval by the committee is required in order to pass the oral exam. The Advisory Committee may also pass the student with conditions. These conditions must be communicated in writing to the student. Once the committee is satisfied that the conditions are met, then the Graduate School is notified.
If the student fails the oral examination they are terminated from the program unless the Advisory Committee unanimously requests that a re-examination be allowed. If the DGP or the Dean of the Graduate School denies the request, the student’s program is terminated.