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Protocol for Comprehensive Examinations, Ph.D. in Business
Administration Management Concentration

(March 10, 2008)

To be admitted to candidacy, each student must take and pass a Comprehensive Exam. Comprehensive Exams in the Management Concentration will consist of both written and oral phases as prescribed by the Graduate School of The University of Memphis.

  1. Written Exam
    The written exam in Management consists of the following five components: human resource management (HR), organizational behavior (OB), organization theory (OT), research methods (RM), and strategy (ST). Students take all five components of the exam in the same semester and must be within one term of having all required Ph.D. coursework completed before they sit for the exam. The exam is administered once per year during the Spring semester. The rules for the examination described here are based upon, and consistent with, those in the College Ph.D. handbook. If the student successfully completes all components of the written exam, then an oral examination will be administered within one month of notification that the written phase has been passed. If the student fails to successfully complete all phases of the written exam on the first taking, then he or she will be allowed to retake the written exam one more time. The second exam will be composed only of those components not passed in the initial sitting unless three or more components are failed on the first exam. The student will be advised on what remediation measures should be taken to address weaknesses demonstrated in the first taking. After the second written exam phase has been completed, the student will then take the oral exam within one month of notification of the results of the second exam. The content of the oral exam will vary according to the studentís performance in the written phase of the testing. (see Oral Exams below)

    The exam is developed and graded by the graduate faculty of the Department of Management, with assistance from such other faculty who may have provided courses in the studentís program of study (e.g. research classes, or specialty classes taken in another department, such as Psychology or MIS). The exam is typically spaced into three exam days spread over two weeks.

    All Ph.D. students in Management take a common written comprehensive examination regardless of their concentration in HR/OB or strategy. The common exam will have equal emphasis on the following areas: HR, OB, OT, RM, and ST.

    Questions on the examination are not restricted to what is covered in particular courses. The exams are designed to test students' overall knowledge and ability to integrate material and concepts across courses and areas. Thus, questions may not be restricted solely to course material, but may also cover readings in other areas of the discipline otherwise expected of students as part of their overall program.

    The responsibility for the development of the exam falls on the Graduate Studies Committee of the Management Department. One individual, the Ph.D. coordinator or a committee member, solicits questions from all faculty members who have had the student in seminars in the given component areas being tested. Once submitted, the questions are reviewed by the committee as a whole, or a portion of that committee consisting of members who have developed questions for the exam. This is done to ensure that questions are clear, understandable, relevant, and fair. It is the policy of the committee to give students some small level of discretion in choosing which questions to answer. For a typical five hour exam session covering two component areas, students will be allowed to choose one out of two questions written by each faculty member in each component area (note that this format is subject to change; students will be notified of the format prior to taking the exam). Once the exam has been completed, the answers are distributed back to the faculty. Typically each question will be initially read by the faculty member who developed the question and one other sub discipline expert. Additional graders will be added if necessary. The committee reconvenes and discusses the answers to the questions and consensus is reached for each question and for each component as to whether it is passed or failed.

    The administration of the exam is conducted by personnel in the Deanís office as consistent with procedures deemed appropriate by the Graduate School. The exams will be scheduled and proctored by deanís office personnel and results will be provided by the department to the Deanís office in written form and by the Deanís office to the Graduate School in the required written format.

    Retake exams will be developed based on performance issues on the first exam.

  3. The Oral Examination
    If a student has successfully completed all components of the written exam (in either the first or second sitting), the oral exam will consist of some combination of questions addressing areas of weakness in the written phase and questions addressing a proposed dissertation research topic. The dissertation proposal defense meeting cannot serve as the oral examination. These are two separate components of the Ph.D. program.

    If the student failed one or more components of both the first and second written exam, then the oral examination will consist of a thorough reexamination of concepts in the failed component(s), also possibly including how that componentís concepts, models, theories, and research are integrated with other component areas of the discipline.

    If the student successfully completes the oral exam, then he or she is considered to have progressed to the ABD stage of the program. If the student fails the oral exam, then he or she is subject to dismissal from the program. However, at the discretion of the examining committee, a student who does poorly on the oral exam may be asked to retake the oral exam one more time and perform remedial work in the interim. If the oral exam committee judges the studentís first or second oral exam to be significantly and irrevocably below standard, then the student will be dropped from the program.



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