NOTE: the official policy is maintained in the program handbook.

The CEPSE Preliminary Examination is a departmental requirement of all doctoral students. According to the Department policy:

Every program must have a Preliminary Examination. A Preliminary Examination is defined as an early assessment of doctoral student progress. Each program is responsible for determining its Preliminary Examination policy and this policy must be approved by the SPRC. The Preliminary Exam policy should include descriptions of when the Preliminary Exam will occur, what data will be evaluated, the process of evaluation, the possible outcomes, and the consequences associated with each outcome.

The Preliminary Examination and the First Year Review

The Preliminary Exam is part of a broad assessment of first-year student progress called the First Year Review. The Preliminary Exam focuses on students’ academic progress, including their course grades, academic writing, and development of their research interests. Other areas assessed in the First Year Review, but not included in the Preliminary Examination, include teaching and research work. The outcome of the Preliminary Examination is a major consideration in determining the overall outcome of the First Year Review. The process and requirements of the First Year Review are described in a separate section.

Details of the EPET Preliminary Examination

  1. Time. The Preliminary Examination takes place near the end of the students’ first year of doctoral studies in EPET. This applies to all students regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time, or began the program in the Fall or Spring semesters.
  2. Materials reviewed. Students submit a portfolio of their academic work. This portfolio should include the following materials.
      Copies of the major graded work from all first year courses including papers, tests, and projects. If the instructor has written comments on the work, a copy of that work should be submitted rather than a clean copy.A summary sheet listing instructor feedback and grades specific to the works in the portfolio and final grades for all courses taken in the first year. The feedback listed should be the major comments on the papers (often written at the end), rather than the editorial comments written throughout. Other instructor feedback on the students’ performance can also be listed. Feedback must be reported fully and verbatim.

      A critique of an empirical study. Students will be asked to critique empirical studies as part of their first-year courses. These critiques should be included in their portfolios.

      Students may include other material if it adds additional information about their academic progress.

  3. Due date for materials. Preliminary Examination materials are due near the end of the spring semester. Check with the EPET representative for the exact date. Review will begin immediately upon receiving the materials. Materials should be submitted to the EPET secretary by email.
  4. Reviewers. The Preliminary Examination materials are reviewed by a group of faculty consisting of the students’ advisor and instructors from their EPET courses. Other faculty familiar with the students’ academic work may also participate.
  5. Aspects of materials reviewed. The following aspects of the Portfolio materials will be evaluated.
      Grades and other evidence of faculty evaluation
      Ability to express thoughts in writing
      Ability to critique an empirical research article
      Ability to complete assignments fully and on time
  6. Ratings. The reviewers decide on an overall rating for each aspect of the students’ work. The rating will be either “Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory.”
      Grades – judged as satisfactory if the final grades for all courses are 3.0 or higher.

      Ability to express thoughts in writing – judged as satisfactory if the student’s writing demonstrates an ability to convey ideas and arguments clearly, concisely, and coherently, and to use correct grammar, spelling, word usage, and academic conventions (e.g., citations).

      Ability to critique an empirical research article – judged as satisfactory if the student is able to write clearly about the strengths and weaknesses of a study’s theoretical perspective, research design and analysis, and interpretation and implications of the results.

      Ability to complete assignments fully and on time – judged as satisfactory if the student has completed all course work fully and on time.

      In determining ratings, extenuating circumstances affecting students’ performance will be considered.

  7. Outcomes. Faculty ratings lead to one of two outcomes for the Preliminary Examination, Pass or Fail.
      Pass. A Satisfactory rating in all aspects of assessment results in a Pass on the Preliminary Examination.

      Fail. An Unsatisfactory rating in any aspect of the materials results in a Fail on the Preliminary Examination.

      The Pass/Fail outcome of the Preliminary Examination will be a major consideration in the overall outcome of the First Year Review. Typically, students who pass the Preliminary Examination will pass the First Year Review, and students who fail the Preliminary Examination will fail the First Year Review. On rare occasions, additional information not included in the Preliminary Examination may alter the outcome.

      Students receiving a “Fail” rating on the First Year Review will undergo a Retention and Dismissal Review. Students who have failed the First Year Review will have officially passed once the conditions specified in the Retention and Dismissal Review have been met.

  8. Retention and Dismissal Review. A Retention and Dismissal Review may be prompted by a number of reasons including poor academic performance, plagiarism, and ethical or legal violations. The Review process consists of examining the problematic issue with the student. The outcome of the Review may be, (a) to retain the student in good standing, (b) to allow the student to continue in the program on probationary status until specified conditions are met, or (c) to immediately dismiss the student from the program. If a student is undergoing a Retention and Dismissal Review, the faculty reserves the right to restrict that student’s participation in MSU coursework, and MSU teaching, research, and service activities.

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