January 2012 Archives

Only 22 days to the final exam


Hi everyone! The spring semester just started, but I am already in a frantic schedule. I am a senior PhD student, i.e., no more classes but working on a dissertation (= thesis to complete the PhD program), so the school schedule does not quite matter. But let me tell you why I am SO busy now. Yes, I am going to graduate from the PhD program in a month.

Before starting the PhD program, I did not exactly know how I would be able to complete the degree. Even after starting the program, it took me a while to understand the complicated, multi-layer process to finish. Today, I would like to explain how the system/process works (for PhD degrees). Of course, the process may vary by the program, so I will describe a general frame, which may be applicable for most programs.

1) Complete required classes/credits

Required classes and number of credits vary by the program, for sure. In the program I am in (PhD in epidemiology), all students have master's degree, and many of them completed their master's degree at our division. They can transfer some classes and credits, so they can decrease class loads and focus on research. Unfortunately, I did my master's at the different school and it was not in epidemiology, so it took 2 years for me to complete all the requirements.

2) Take and pass a preliminary written exam(s)
Many programs offer one preliminary written exam to test students' knowledge (mostly what they have learned in classes), but a form of the exam varies. In my program, students have to take TWO written exams - one to test their knowledge in epidemiologic methodology and the other one to test their ability to write a grant proposal. The first one is a two-day exam - you are isolated in an assigned faculty office and take an exam from 9 am to 3 pm for two days. The second one is a 17-day exam - you have to write up a grant proposal within 17 days.

Once passing the written exam, you will start work on your dissertation.

3) Take and pass a preliminary oral exam
You prepare your dissertation proposal and present it to faculty members in your dissertation committee. There are usually 4 to 5 faculty members in the committee. After the presentation, committee members ask you questions on your proposal. Usually takes 2 to 3 hours.

4) Take and pass a final oral exam (final defense)

After completing your dissertation, you will have a presentation on your dissertation. It is usually open to the public. After the public presentation, a 2-hour exam (only you and the committee) will follow. You may (or may not) be grilled...

5) Submit a dissertation to the Graduate School - on line

Once your entire committee agree that you have passed the final exam, all you have to do is to revise the dissertation (if needed) and submit it to the graduate school!!

Again, the process may vary by the program. More information can be found at the Graduate School web page.

My final defense is scheduled in 22 days. That is the reason why I am frantically busy right now. I am aiming at circulating my dissertation to the entire committee tomorrow, but there are tons of things to do to complete it...Well, I have to go back to work on it. I will update you with the next step in 2 weeks!


My tribulations as a social worker...

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I often wondered why I decided to become a social worker. It is definitely because of the paycheck the social work values:

- service
- social justice
- dignity and worth of the person
- importance of human relationships
- integrity
- competence

I have incorporated these values into my every day life - and often think of what would have happened if I had never changed tracks. I started off my undergraduate degree in Biology, and I had an epiphany... I did not like Chemistry I felt like there was something missing in my life. How can I make a difference and still study in an area that I will enjoy, and not like in my high school laboratory, almost blowing up the lab because I "accidentally" turned the Bunsen Burner to the highest gas degree (I hope none of my high school science teachers are reading this!)

On a serious note, social justice was one of the key fundamentals that attracted me to this field. Not only changing communities is my passion, but understanding how to effectively change them so we can better our societies as well. Of course, I do get the once in a while comments that I am naive and that what I want is quite impossible, but I also have the support from my friends and family to keep on doing this. And the occasionally ridiculous stories that tag along.... maybe for next time!

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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