The comprehensive examination must be passed by each candidate as a requirement for Admission to Candidacy and administered to a candidate before five semesters have been completed in the Ph.D. program. The exam will be administered in both written and oral formats.

Written examination: The Advisory Committee of each Ph.D. candidate will develop a written exam comprised of five areas selected among those suggested below. Each advisory committee member will provide up to five questions to the scientific advisor, three of which will be selected by the candidate. Each set of questions will be answered in up to six hours per day, and the exam will be administered in up to five consecutive days. Exams will be evaluated by the Advisory Committee members and returned to the candidate within two weeks of their completion.

Oral examination: Within four weeks of the satisfactory completion of the written examination, the Advisory Committee will convene and examine the candidate for up to two hours in any of the areas suggested below.

These are only general guidelines for the comprehensive examination. The student's Advisory Committee members should provide major input into the selected examination format, particularly concerning the number of written questions offered, whether these are "essay" or "multiple choice" type, and if they may be answered with "open" or "closed" book.

The suggested areas of examination are: 

  1. Biochemistry and Biophysics 
  2. Molecular Genetics and Evolution
  3. Statistics and Modeling 
  4. Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
  5. Physiology and Pathobiology 
  6. Microbial Ecology 
  7. Microbial Genetics and Physiology
  8. Molecular Approaches to Fisheries and Aquaculture