Preliminary Qualifying Exam (PQE)

The Goal

The primary goal of the Preliminary Qualifying Examination (PQE) in BBS is to ensure that you are able to assemble and defend an effective research proposal.  This skillset is essential for the vast majority of research careers that our students pursue after degree completion.  Examiners are asked to assess whether you have achieved an appropriately high standard of scientific scholarship and skills that will be critical for successful completion of your Ph.D. thesis and career development.  In addition to evaluating your foundation in genetics, molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry, the PQE will test your ability to:
  • Develop hypothesis- or technology-driven research plans likely to advance a field
  • Prepare a compelling research plan to test these hypotheses or technologies, including describing the overall strategy, methodology and analyses to be used to accomplish the aims as well as discussing potential problems, and alternative strategies and contingencies
  • Develop creative and forward-thinking aim(s) that will advance a given field
  • Orally explain and defend these hypotheses and your research plan
  • Critically analyze and interpret data, including the application of relevant statistical tests