Candidacy Exam Description
Neuroscience Program students can either take an on- or an off-topic candidacy exam, following the GSBS guidelines for on-topic or off-topic exam, respectively. The candidacy exam is to be taken during the spring semester of the student’s second year, but not later than during the fall semester of their third year. The exam is designed to meet two main objectives:
- To evaluate the student’s ability to develop a novel hypothesis, write a proposal that tests that hypothesis, and defend an original research project.
- To evaluate the breadth of the student’s overall neuroscience knowledge as gained from the Neuroscience Core Courses.
The research proposal should be broad in scope, and should incorporate several distinctly different experimental approaches. Although most breadth questions will be derived from the research proposal, the student will ultimately be responsible for all areas covered in the core curriculum. Development of the proposal should follow GSBS guidelines.
There are three phases to the candidacy exam:
- Selection of a topic approved by the advisory committee and generation of a one-page abstract submitted to the program manager and the Academic Standards Committee
- Writing a proposal in NIH pre-doctoral fellowship format
- Taking an oral examination based on the submitted proposal, consisting of a 15-20 minute presentation followed by a period of open questioning by a five-member committee.