Program Milestones

Each student’s development is evaluated at five major milestones. These include the qualifying exam, qualifying research paper, preliminary exam, dissertation research proposal, and dissertation research defense.

      • Qualifying Examination (summer after first year) – The qualifying examination provides a rigorous assessment of the student’s academic performance during the first year of the program. The exam duration is six to eight hours. The exam content reflects the topics covered in seminar and research methods courses taken during the first year. The Ph.D. committee will assess the student’s performance on the qualifying exam, also taking into account the student’s performance in the courses taken during the first year and the input from the faculty conducting the Ph.D. seminars.
      • Qualifying Research Paper (summer after second year) – Each student is expected to prepare, under the supervision of one or two faculty members, a single-authored publishable quality research paper by the completion of the second year of study. The genesis of such a paper could arise from a course taken for credit or a research project with a faculty member.  The research paper will be evaluated by the departmental Ph.D. committee. Successful completion of the Qualifying Research Paper is a prerequisite for taking the Preliminary Examination.
      • Comprehensive Examinations (summer after second year) – The comprehensive examinations verify that the student is prepared to pursue dissertation research in Operations and Supply Chain Management. The examinations are conducted in two successive parts: the Departmental exam and the Preliminary exam. The Departmental exam ascertains whether the student has mastered the content of the operations and supply chain management domain. This is judged by performance on an eight-hour written examination covering the research seminar topics plus supplemental readings relevant to the student’s intended research topic, as well as performance in courses, on assigned RA and/or TA responsibilities, and performance as specified in bi-annual performance evaluations. In order to pass this criteria, the student must receive a majority vote of the PhD Committee. If a student fails on the first attempt, a second attempt will be allowed within one semester of the first attempt. A second failure will result in dismissal from the program.
      • Only after successful completion of the Departmental exam will a student be allowed to sit for the Preliminary exam. The Preliminary exam assesses the student’s preparedness to conduct the dissertation research and is administered by the student’s dissertation advisory committee. The format, content, and delivery of this exam are at the discretion of the student’s academic committee chair.  Upon successful completion of the Preliminary exam, the student officially becomes a Ph.D. candidate and may pursue dissertation research. More guidelines regarding the Preliminary exam are provided by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies.

      • Dissertation Proposal Defense (spring of third year) – The student’s academic committee is responsible for administering the dissertation proposal defense. The purpose is to evaluate the potential of the proposed research in satisfying the dissertation research requirements and to provide an opportunity for the assembled advisory committee to provide the student with guidance. Upon completion, both the student and advisory committee will clearly understand the definition, objectives, scope, deliverables, and necessary steps for completing the dissertation research.
      • Dissertation Defense – During the dissertation defense the advisory committee evaluates the quality of the dissertation research and the preparedness of the student to conduct independent research in operations and supply chain management.  By successfully passing the defense, a student has met all the program requirements and will have earned their degree, contingent upon meeting the additional requirements of the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies.