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)

Qualifying Exam

  1. 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.
  2. 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).

Comprehensive Exams

  1. Written Exams

    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.
  2. Concentration Exam
    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.
  3. Minor Exam
    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.
  4. 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.
    1. 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.
    2. 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 program.
  5. Oral Exam
    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.