Advancement to Candidacy and the Comprehensive Exam

Advancing to Candidacy

Under UBC’s rules and regulations all PhD students must advance to candidacy within 36 months of starting the doctoral program. Advancing to candidacy simply means you have been judged to be making satisfactory progress in the doctoral program. It will also mean your research proposal has been approved by your supervisory committee. In order to be admitted to candidacy students with a previous masters degree must:

  • Sit and pass the comprehensive examination within 24 months of starting the PhD program
  • Gain their supervisory committee’s approval for their thesis proposal.

If you went into the program with a undergraduate degree you must:

  • Complete 12 credit courses with an overall first class average
  • A minimum of nine credits must be at the 500 level or above and at least nine credits must be at 80% or above
  • Sit and pass the comprehensive examination within 24 months of starting the PhD program
  • Gain your supervisory committee’s approval for your thesis proposal.

In the Biochemistry department advancing to candidacy and passing the comprehensive exam occurs at the same time. So students are normally advanced to candidacy in May of their second year after they have passed the comprehensive exam.

PhD Comprehensive Examination

Comprehensive Exam Guidelines 2017-2018 (pdf 200 KB)

Comprehensive Exam Forms (doc 24 KB)
Comprehensive Exam Forms (pdf 51 KB)

Comprehensive Exam Checklist for Students 2017 (doc 31KB)

The comprehensive exam is designed to test your knowledge and understanding of standard concepts in Biochemistry. You also need to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of your chosen research topic. All doctoral students and students who want to transfer to the PhD program must sit the exam. In both cases exams are normally held in March during your second year. The basic process is as follows:

  • By December 15, obtain your Supervisory Committee’s approval to sit the exam
  • Obtain your exam topics
  • A external examiner will be appointed by your supervisory committee
  • Submit your research proposal
  • Obtain approval for your research proposal
  • Obtain topics from your external examiner
  • Sit the exam
  • If you pass you will be transferred into the PhD program and/or transferred to candidacy normally with effect from May.