College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
  • Home
  • Exams Frequently Asked Questions

Exams Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to come to campus for my exam?

No. Existing rules requiring in-person attendance at milestone exams are being temporarily suspended. Any or all students and/or committee members may participate using mediated means (video conferencing). Milestone exams include:

  • Oral or written comprehensive exams
  • Preliminary exams
  • Dissertation or thesis defenses
  • Prospectus defenses

NOTE: All participants in an exam involving remote participation must be fully aware of what is transpiring and fully able to participate in all components of the discussion with the student and each other. Any material presented during the examination, orally or in writing, shall be seen and heard by all members. If a committee member has not arrived, the exam may not begin; if a committee member leaves, the exam may not proceed. Oral examinations that do not meet these participation requirements are not valid.

Additionally, with the exception of students who are enrolled in a course with a face-to- face component and who do not have an approved course adaptation, departments cannot compel students to be on campus for an exam during Fall 2020. Departments will need to offer remote options for any mandatory department events or milestones required for the degree, including program-specific exams that have previously been required to be in-person (e.g. written qualifying exams, language proficiency exams, orientations). 

I’d rather wait until this is all over and complete my exam/defense in person, but other members of my committee want to do it via video conferencing. Does my exam have to be remote?

In cases where the student prefers for committee members to be physically present, the student’s preference shall be honored. However, this preference may require delaying the exam and in doing so, delaying progress to degree. Departments have been encouraged by the College and the Office of Graduate Studies to extend by one semester deadlines for completion of milestone exams and overall time limits for degree completion in light of this.

Additionally, students should note that the suspension of in-person exams will remain in place indefinitel. Delaying exams in order to wait for a fully-in person experience may in some cases require students to delay progress to degree beyond what is acceptable for satisfactory progress.


If all of my committee members and I are agreeable to coming to campus for the exam, can we do that as long as we rfollow campus safety protocols?

Yes. If an in-person exam is mutually agreeable to all exam participants, it may be held in person, observing required campus safety protocols. If a student wishes to hold the exam in person, even partially, their wishes should be honored; however, that preference may mean that they will have to reschedule or delay their exam.  When campus opperations do resume in the Fall, only individuals whose work is determined by their supervisor to be essential for face-to-face operations should report to campus.  


How do I go about setting up an exam/defense via video conferencing?

Students are encouraged to use Zoom. Zoom platform provides all of the features that will best support oral exams, including the “breakout room” feature that will allow the student to “step out” for the committee to confer, without ending the call. The University has a license with Zoom that allows students and faculty to use extended features for free. The following guides are helpful resources:


What if a committee member doesn’t have a webcam, but they still want to participate?

As long as the committee member can see and hear everything and participate fully, but the rest of the committee just can’t see them, that is fine, provided the student is comfortable with it.


Does my dissertation defense still have to be open to the public if conducted via Video Conference?

Yes. Dissertation defense should be conducted via an online platform that allows other participants to join or observe for free via a computer or mobile device. The Zoom Guide to Final Defenses provides instructions on setting up a link to the defense that anyone can use to join/participate. Your COGA Advisor or graduate support staff member will share the link and announce the defense with others in the department, as they would an in-person exam.


How do I get my committee members to sign my required graduation documents if the exam is conducted via video conferencing?

The College Office of Graduate Affairs (COGA) is accepting electronic signatures from committee members on all required documents on the Master’s and Doctoral Degree Checklist.