Qualifying Exams, Preliminary Exams, Final Exams

Qualifying Examinations

A PhD qualifying exam is offered once each year, at the end of June. The exam covers material in STAT 527, 528, 511, and 575. It consists of two four-hour exams, given on two different days. There are approximately two problems per course, for a total of about eight problems. The exams are interchangeable, i.e. there could be questions relating to any course on either or both exams.

Every eligible PhD student is required to take the Qualifying exam after the first full year. A student receiving a passing score on the exam becomes a PhD candidate and maintains regular progress towards the PhD degree. A student who does not achieve a passing score will have one of two possible outcomes: (1) near passing, allowed to make a second attempt the following year, or (2) terminal non-passing score.

Preliminary Examination

During the first two years of graduate study, the student should be thinking seriously about what area of statistics to concentrate in, so that upon completing the qualifying examinations, work can begin toward the preliminary examination. The preliminary examination is frequently an oral presentation of the proposed thesis topic.

To schedule your Preliminary Exam you will need to complete a Statistics Prelim/Final Exam Form and submit it electronically to the main office. Your request will be processed by the staff in the office and arrangements will be made with the the Graduate College to confirm your committee as well as make arrangements with the Office of the Registrar for an exam location. 

You are permitted to have a committee member who is not University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign affiliated. In order to proceed with a non-University of Illinois affiliated committee member, you will need to provide a CV as well as a letter of justification from your Chair on why the individual should serve on the committee. In addition, a valid email address for the non-University of Illinois committee member must be provided so that office staff may contact directly to obtain the appropriate signatures.

Once the office staff have received your request to schedule your Prelim Exam, they will reserve an adequate space that will have both a computer and a projector in the room. If you require additional technology in the room, please indicate as such in your request form. The office staff will also submit the committee approval to the Graduate College. Once the room and committee has been confirmed, you and the committee will be notified via email of the schedule and location of the Prelim Exam.

Preliminary Examination Committee

The Preliminary Examination Committee consists of at least four faculty members, not all of whom need to be in the Department of Statistics. The committee must be approved by the Graduate Advisor of the Department of Statistics, ad well as the Graduate College. The student prepares a written report to be presented to the members of the Committee at least two weeks before the Preliminary Exam. The Preliminary Exam itself consists of a short presentation by the student followed by questions from the members of the Committee. The Committee then has three choices: pass the student, fail the student, or postpone their decision with an indication to the student of what further work must be accomplished to satisfy the Committee. Since failure means that the Committee believes that the chances for success are very slim, only under extraordinary circumstances will a failed student be allowed to retake the Preliminary Exam. A pass means the student is eligible to begin thesis work.

Doctoral Thesis and Defense Examination

The thesis is written under the supervision of the student's faculty advisor. It must consist of original work, presumably an outgrowth of the preliminary work. A thesis examination committee consisting of at least four faculty members, appointed by the Graduate College at the request of the Department of Statistics, reads the thesis. The student is examined orally by this committee during the defense examination. The committee members should be given sufficient time to study the thesis prior to the examination.

After the defense examination had been passed, copies of the thesis, whose format and physical appearance have been approved by the Department of Statistics and the Graduate College, are to be submitted to the Thesis Office of the Graduate College for final approval.

To schedule your Final Exam and begin preparations for your Thesis format review, you will need to complete a Statistics Prelim/Final Exam Form and submit it electronically to the main office. Your request will be processed by the staff in the office and arrangements will be made with the the Graduate College to confirm your committee as well as make arrangements with the Office of the Registrar for an exam location. 

You are permitted to have a committee member who is not University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign affiliated. In order to proceed with a non-University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign affiliated committee member, you will need to provide a CV as well as a letter of justification from your Chair on why the individual should serve on the committee. In addition, a valid email address for the non-University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign committee member must be provided so that office staff may contact directly to obtain the appropriate signatures.

Once the office staff have received your request to schedule your Final Exam, they will reserve an adequate space that will have both a computer and a projector in the room. If you require additional technology in the room, please indicate as such in your request form. The office staff will also submit the committee approval to the Graduate College. Once the room and committee has been confirmed, you and the committee will be notified via email of the schedule and location of the Final Exam.

Thesis Review

By following the structure and templates outlined on the Graduate College’s website, you should be able construct your thesis properly and to the standards of the university. For examples and templates, please see: http://www.grad.illinois.edu/thesis/format.

Once your thesis is completed, it must receive a format review from the Department’s Thesis Format Reviewer. The Format Reviewer will check to make sure you meet the standards and requirements set forth by the Graduate College. Upon approval from the Format Reviewer you can then submit your Thesis to the Graduate College by using their web-portal found here: http://www.grad.illinois.edu/thesis/submit.

After receiving approval from the Department Format Reviewer, a Dissertation Approval Form (TDA) will be submitted to the Graduate College indicating that the thesis has met the department’s approval and is now ready for review from the Graduate College. The Graduate College will not review a thesis until the TDA has been submitted.

For more information about Thesis and Dissertations, please see: http://www.grad.illinois.edu/thesis