Protocol for Comprehensive Examinations, Ph.D. in Business Economics Concentration (From A Guide to the Ph.D. in Business Administration at the University of Memphis
with a Concentration in Economics, Fall 2003)
Ph.D. Qualifying Exam
Upon completion of the first year of coursework students must sit for the qualifying
exam. The exam is administered by the College during July of each year. The exam covers
first year coursework, Econ 7/8310, Econ 7/8320 and Econ 7/8810 in particular. The
grading of the exam is as described in section 3a and b below.
Masters Comprehensive Exam
This exam may also be considered for the Masters Comprehensive Exam. In such a case
a score of 80 percent and above is Excellent, a score of 70 per cent and above is
very good, a score of 60 per cent and above is good, 50 per cent and above is pass,
and below 50 per cent the grade is fail. (These categories apply only if this exam
is considered the Masters Comprehensive Exam).
After completing all relevant classes, written comprehensive exams in the concentration
(Economics) and the minor must be passed. The concentration and minor exams may be
taken at different times. These exams are administered by the College, in September
and March of each year. The results of the examinations are conveyed from the Chair
of the department's Graduate Programs Committee to the Dean's Office. When the student
has completed all sections of the examination the Dean's Office conveys the results
to the Graduate School. The rules for the examination described here are based upon,
and consistent with, those in the College Ph.D. handbook.
The concentration exam is given and graded by the graduate faculty of the Department
of Economics. The Concentration exam is given in two parts: the first part is in theory
and econometrics (covering Economics 7/8310, 7/8311 and 7/8320, 7/8321 and 7/8810,
7/8811) and the second part is in the field of specialization covering work in the
field courses. It must be emphasized that questions on the examination are not restricted
to what is covered in particular courses. The exams are designed to test the student's
overall knowledge and ability to integrate material and concepts across courses. The
field section will cover material from the field courses, but questions are not restricted
solely to course material. Normally the theory and econometrics sections are taken
after the fall semester of the second year while the field exam is taken immediately
after completing the second field course. Each part is graded independently and both
must be passed successfully. If one part is failed only that part need be retaken.
For the economics concentration exam two examination committees will be formed: one
for the theory and econometrics section consisting of five faculty members and one
for each field exam consisting of three faculty, with at least two teaching or doing
research in the field. The Ph.D. Coordinator of the Department will serve as the chair
of both committees and is responsible for forming the committees. Each committee will
prepare their section of the exam based upon questions submitted by the committee
members. (Each question submitted for consideration must also have an answer or outline
of the answer submitted with it for consideration by the committee). After the examination
is administered the Chair of the committees will distribute copies of the completed
exams, each student being identified only by a number to ensure anonymity, along with
a key to the committees' members for grading. Each member of the two committees will
grade all questions on that committee's exam. The grading process is described in
detail in section 3 below.
The minor exam is prepared and graded by a committee of professors in the minor area.
Students have the option of taking this exam at the same time as the examinations
in the concentration, though it may be taken at a different time. The only restriction
is that the student must have completed all course work before taking any exam.
Grading Ph.D. Exams in the Economics Department
Each examination committee member grades every question. Every question has the same
weight. A numerical score of 1 to 10 is assigned to each question as follows: Numerical
Score Level of Performance
9-10 Excellent 8 Very Good 7 Pass 6 Fail
The student's score for each question is the arithmetic average of all numerical scores
submitted by graders. The total score for the exam is the sum of the scores of the
questions answered by the student. The maximum possible score is 10 times the number
of questions. The percentage score for the exam is the ratio of the student's total
score to the maximum possible score times 100.
If the exam percentage score is greater than or equal to 90 percent, the student receives
an overall grade of Excellent. If the percentage score is greater than or equal to
80 percent, the student receives a grade of Very Good. If the percentage score is
greater than or equal to 70 percent, the student receives a grade of Pass. If the
percentage score is less than 70 percent the grade is fail.
If the student fails a written exam (or any part of the written exam) he/she may take
that exam (or part) one additional time. When the student passes all written exams,
the oral component of the comprehensive exam will be scheduled (see below). If the
student has failed one or more of the written exams twice the student may request
an oral exam to demonstrate competency in those areas. In this case the outcome of
the oral exam is either: 1) fail, and the student has failed the comprehensive exam
and is dismissed from the program, or 2) permission to retake the written exam (or
part of the written exam) that he/she failed one, and only one, additional time. If
the student then passes that written exam the student then will schedule the oral
exam for one and only one additional time. If the student fails that written exam
(or part) the student has failed the comprehensive exam and is dismissed from the
Within one month of completing the last written exam, the oral examination must be
taken. The examination committee for the oral exam consists of all members of the
written comprehensive exams. In addition, any member of the graduate faculty may attend
the examination, including those from the minor area, but they do not participate
in the grading. Each member of the oral examination committee should assign a numerical
score to the total oral examination (on the same basis as the scoring for individual
questions of the written examination discussed above) and the average score of all
examiners will be the score of the oral exam. A wide range of questions on topics
studied in courses, including basic theory, the field, and the minor may be encountered.
If the student has failed any of the written components the oral exam may offer an
opportunity for the student to demonstrate competency in those areas (as described
above). The discussion may extend to tentative ideas for a dissertation, and to how
the material in course work might contribute to this research. When the student passes
all written exams and the oral exam he/she has passed the comprehensive exam.