General Examination

The general examination is an oral test that covers aspects of applied statistics, linear models, probability theory, and statistics. Below is information about the general examination process for current Ph.D. students.

Required Courses

In order to be eligible for the general examination (GE), a Ph.D. student must have completed all the following course sequences:

  • Applied statistics (STAT 5505-5605).
  • Inference (STAT 6315-6515).
  • Linear models (STAT 5725-5735).
  • Probability (STAT 6325-6894).

This requirement is regardless of the choice of the topic components covered by the GE.


The GE will cover three components: two topic components and a research component. The two topic components will be chosen from applied statistics (STAT 5505-5605), inference (STAT 6315-6515), linear models (STAT 5725-5735), and probability (STAT 6325-6894). Questioning on the research component will be aimed at a dissertation proposal.

Selection of the two topic components will be made jointly by a Ph.D. student and their major advisor(s). Knowledge in a topic component will be expected to far exceed a level that may be typically required to earn a grade A in an associated course.

Examining Committee

The examining committee (“committee”) will consist of a Ph.D. student’s major advisor(s), who will serve as the chair(s). It will also include three other examining members from the graduate faculty of the Department of Statistics, each of whom will have a major role for examining one of the three components.

Faculty members serve as examining members after they have received and accepted an invitation by the student to do so. The student’s advisor does not serve as an examining member.

Dissertation Proposal and Research Component

No later than two weeks before taking the GE, a Ph.D. student will provide a dissertation proposal to the three examining members of the committee with advice and permission from the student’s major advisor(s). The dissertation proposal will normally be similar to that required by the Graduate School.

Prior to the GE, any member of the committee may ask the student to prepare additional material under the research component for questioning during the GE. These may cover but may not be limited to:

  • Background of the research area including motivation, literature search, and necessary tools.
  • Proposed plan of research including methods, possible hurdles, and ideas to handle them.
  • Applications, if any.
  • Indications of future and related research.


A grade of “pass” or “fail” will be assigned for an entire GE. There will be no “partial pass” of any kind. A Ph.D. student may have a maximum of two opportunities to clear the GE.


A Ph.D. student must give a notice of at least three months to the committee to schedule the GE.