Qualifying Exam

QE Committee | Structure of Exam | QE File | Oral Exam | Post-QE


All Anthropology graduate students are required to pass the Qualifying Examination (QE) to Advance to Candidacy and continue towards the doctoral degree.

Students can access track-specific checklists to the QE, and for past QE statements on the Student Wiki. 

Timing of the Exam

Students are required to take their QE by the end of their third year. A student’s “statement of progress and plans” submitted for the second year review should indicate in which quarter students expect to take the QE. 

Students must be enrolled during the quarter in which the qualifying exam is scheduled. In cases of a summer QE, students do not need to be enrolled for summer courses so long as they were enrolled in the preceding spring quarter.  However, faculty are not required to serve on qualifying exam committees during summer. 

Contact the Graduate Program Coordinator to schedule a room and time for your exam.

A student who does not take the QE by the end of the third year is required to submit an explanatory letter to their advisor requesting a deferral. The student should send duplicate copies to the Graduate Director and Graduate Coordinator. This letter should clearly state the student's projected schedule for taking the exam.

The department will review the request and send a written response to the student with the department's decision. Please keep in mind that deferrals will be granted on a case-by-case basis.

A student who does not pass the QE by the end of the fourth year may be asked to leave the program. At the end of the fourth year, the Financial Aid office will automatically put a hold on the loans and fellowships of any student who has not Advanced to Candidacy.

NOTE: Students may not schedule the QE until any incompletes have been removed from their academic record.

Timeline

Graphical representation of QE process

QE Committee

In all cases, the QE Committee should be formed before the end of the fall quarter of the third year or in the quarter before taking the QE, whichever comes first. 

The Graduate Division sets the general structure of the QE Committee. The QE Committee must be made up of at least three faculty members from the Department and one outside member. The chair of the student’s qualifying committee may not act as the chair for the Dissertation Committee.  Both the outside member of the QE committee and the QE chair (one of the two additional anthropology members) must be tenured.

The outside member may be a UCSC faculty from another discipline, or an anthropology faculty member from another campus. (NOTE: Travel expenses of QE Committee members are not covered by either the Graduate Division or the Anthropology Department, and students are responsible for travel expenses and lodging of Committee members from other campuses).

Members of the QE Committee are chosen by the student in consultation with his/her faculty advisor and already appointed Committee members, approved by the Department and officially appointed by the Graduate Dean.

In order to take the QE, the student must submit a Nomination Form to the Graduate Program Coordinator confirming the composition of the QE Committee a minimum of 30 days prior to the exam date. 

Students may find QE Committee Nomination Forms online at: https://graddiv.ucsc.edu/current-students/pdfs/qe_nom.pdf 

Structure of the Exam

The Qualifying Exam consists of two parts: a written file and a three-hour oral examination with the QE Committee during which the student presents and discusses the file.

The student must submit the written file to the Committee six weeks prior to the date of the exam.

The advisor will meet with the student to transmit comments two weeks later. At this point, a decision is made as to whether the student can proceed with the exam and, if so, the date of the exam will be confirmed with the Graduate Division.

The student then has a further two weeks to revise the QE materials before final delivery of the file to the Committee two weeks prior to the exam date.

QE File

For cultural track students, the file includes:

  1. A theoretically-focused dissertation research prospectus (approximately 18-25 pages, double-spaced, actual length to be determined by the Committee)
  2. Two field statements on two anthropological topics selected and developed in consultation with the Committee.  Field statements typically review fields of literature that have (a) an area/regional focus and (b) a thematic/theoretical focus. (approximately 10-15 pages, double-spaced, each; actual length to be determined by the Committee). 

For archaeology track students, the file includes:

  1. A theoretically-focused dissertation research prospectus (approximately 18-25 pages, double-spaced, actual length to be determined by the Committee)
  2. Three field statements reviewing literature on (a) an area culture, (b) a set of methods, and (c) a theoretical tradition or theme.

Oral Examination

The oral examination is a three-hour meeting in which the student presents and defends his/her work to the Committee. Although the Committee will decide on the form of the oral exam, it typically begins with a ten-minute presentation by the student outlining the proposed research and elaborating on critical theoretical and ethnographic aspects of the project. The meeting will then normally move to a detailed discussion of the student's file.

Towards the end of the oral exam, the student will be asked to leave the room. At this point the Committee will review the entire QE and decide on one of three actions: pass, conditional pass (requiring revisions to be submitted according to a specified timetable), and no pass/fail (leading to the student's termination in the program).

The QE Exam is open to all faculty members. Students are encouraged to attend, but may do so only with the permission of the examinee.

Post-QE

Once students have submitted the Report on the Qualifying Exam and Nominations for Dissertation Committee to the Graduate Program Coordinator, students will be Advanced to Candidacy during the following quarter for which they are registered.  A $90 “Advancement to Candidacy fee” will be applied to students’ accounts; students are expected to cover this fee. 

The Division of Graduate Studies requires that students be registered for at least one quarter after the Advancement to Candidacy and prior to awarding of the degree. This can be satisfied by registering in the fall as the Department requires. It does not mean the student has to physically be at UCSC.

Report on Qualifying Exam

Following the examination, the student will receive a copy of the Report on Qualifying Examination prepared by the Committee for the Graduate Division.

Students may find Report on Qualifying Examination Forms online at: https://graddiv.ucsc.edu/current-students/pdfs/QE.pdf

Following the exam and the completion of any revisions, the student is required to submit a copy of his/her QE file to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Formation of Dissertation Committee

The Graduate Division requires that students who have passed their Qualifying Exams form their Dissertation Reading Committee before they are considered Advanced to Candidacy.

The Dissertation Committee must include a minimum of three faculty members, one of whom must be designated as the Dissertation Advisor. Normally these readers are selected from the QE Committee, but this is not required. 

At least two of these readers must be members of the UCSC Anthropology Department. A majority of Committee members must be part of the UCSC Academic Senate.  It is highly recommended that you have at least one member from another campus. 

Students must submit Nominations for Dissertation Committee Members Form after passing the Qualifying Exam.  Students may find Nominations for Dissertation Committee Members Form online at: https://graddiv.ucsc.edu/current-students/pdfs/drc_nom.pdf

Students have the option of changing their dissertation committee composition at a later date.  To make changes to the dissertation committee, students must simply resubmit the Nominations for Dissertation Reading Committee form.