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Qualifying Exams (QE) Information
for Faculty and Doctoral Students

The College of Education makes available two options for the completion of the QE:  1) College-Wide Option and 2) Program-Specific Option.

Beginning in Fall 2007, the College began administering only the College-Wide Option, and students must take the College-Wide Option unless the Program had previously submitted a proposal for a Program-Specific Option that meets the criteria stated. Doctoral students should check with their program director to determine if Option #2 is available for their program.

General Guidelines for Administration of All QE Options

  1. Students are given one opportunity to retake the exam with a minimum of 10 weeks between exam administrations and a maximum of one year.
  1. All students who wish to take the qualifying examination must apply to the COEDU Graduate Studies Office in EDU 106 using the "Application to Take the Qualifying Examination" form*. 
  1. The "Application to Take the Qualifying Examination" form is the vehicle used to reserve a space for students desiring to take the QE.
  1. Students are seated in the examination on a space-available (first-come, first-served) basis due to the limited seating and machines in the lab (if the lab is used, as with College-Wide Option).
  1. Students must be cleared by the COEDU Graduate Coordinator prior to beginning the examination using the deadline dates posted at
  1. The student’s major professor must notify the student and the COEDU Graduate Coordinator in writing as to the results of the examination using the "Verification of Qualifying Examination Results" form*.
*These forms can be found at:  Click on "Advanced Graduate Forms" under Important Information.

NOTE:  Admission to Candidacy paperwork must be received in the Graduate School by the last day of classes for the semester.  Students may not enroll in dissertation hours until the semester following the semester of formal admission to candidacy.  Students who must register for coursework while awaiting admission to candidacy should register for Directed Research (#7910).  Students who wish to use this coursework to decrease the overall number of dissertation hours required should have their major professors submit a request in writing to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, EDU 106.

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Guiding Principles for the Qualifying Examination

  • The College is committed to the growth and success of its students as emerging scholars.  Professors serve as advocates in guiding and mentoring students to perform well on the QE while upholding rigorous standards of academic performance.

  • The QE represents a shared responsibility between professors and their students.  Professors are responsible for informing advisees about the format and general content of the QE.  Students are responsible for being mentally prepared to successfully complete the examination as well as for meeting administrative requirements and deadlines specified in the COE Advanced Graduate Handbook.

  • The College respects and reveres the diverse intellectual traditions of its constituent programs.  Variations in the nature and substance of the QE reflect these disciplinary differences.

  • The COE has an unwavering commitment to the concept and practice of academic honesty and the QE exemplifies this in all aspects.

  • The QE represents an experience that is greater than the sum of the coursework that precedes it.  Hence, the QE is neither a repetition of exercises and performances previously encountered in coursework, nor an opportunity to complete advance work on the dissertation.

  • The QE is a summative evaluation.  It represents a terminal performance where students demonstrate a level of scholastic mastery that allows them to begin the task of independent research.  At the same time, successful completion of the QE is a rite of passage that heralds a new relationship between mentor and protégé.

Excerpted from Guiding Principles for Discussing the Qualifying Examination developed by a subcommittee of the Graduate Programs Committee (GPC) and approved by GPC and College Council, 2006.

[Please refer to the bottom section of "Related Links" to your right to download the GPC's Final Report on the Qualifying Examination Process and the Executive Summary.]

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Related Links

Graduate Studies

New Faculty Information

USF Faculty/Staff

Final Report of the GPC Ad Hoc Committee

Executive Summary





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