The Candidacy Examination
Three examiners will assess the student: the student's research supervisor, and at least two
more people from the student's supervisory committee. The examination will be chaired by
a UBC faculty member from outside the student's supervisory committee, chosen collaboratively
by the gac, the student, and the student's supervisor.
The examiners and the exam chair must be identified at least three weeks prior to the
The examination is a closed event, involving only the student, the examiners, and the exam
chair. Its structure reflects the objectives stated above.
- Writing: The student will prepare a substantial report (typically 15 pages or more) on
an advanced topic in his/her research area, and distribute it to the examiners and the
exam chair at least two full weeks prior to the examination. A successful report will
convince the examiners that the student has laid out or embarked on a path that
leads to a solid dissertation. This may be achieved by carefully describing an open
problem, the history of known efforts to solve it, and some techniques from which
new insights could be derived. Or, the student could present the results of his/her
own research so far and outline possible extensions and related topics for further
- Presentation: The student will present the highlights of the written report in a 20 - 30
- Discussion: The student will answer questions from the examiners. There will be two
types of questions.
- Questions about the report and related topics. These should allow the
Committee to assess the candidate's readiness to carry out research in the
- General questions on the field of study and broader mathematical topics.
These should allow the examiners to assess the candidate's breadth and
general qualification to carry a doctorate in mathematics. It is the candidate's
responsibility to contact the examiners well before the event to ascertain the
breadth of material to be examined (e.g., defined by textbooks or a reading list
Four results are possible:
- a clear pass,
- a pass with conditions,
- failure, with the option to retake the examination once more, within 6 months, or
- failure and dismissal.
The exam chair will submit a brief written report on the examination to the Graduate
Advisor, with copies to the student and the examiners.
UBC's Faculty of Graduate Studies sets three basic requirements for advancement to
- all required coursework has been successfully completed;
- the candidacy examination
has been passed; and
- the supervisory committee has certified that the thesis proposal has been approved.
Students are required to complete their Candidacy Examination in the first 24 months of their
PhD program. Any requests for extensions must be submitted in writing to the
Graduate Chair [gradchair(at)math.ubc.ca] prior to this deadline; extensions
Candidacy Exam Extension.pdf] are contingent upon
an acceptable reason for delay. By FoGS rule, students who do not advance to Candidacy within
36 months will be required to withdraw from the program. For further information on Candidacy,
please refer to:
For mathematics students in a program sponsored by the Institute of Applied Mathematics
(IAM) , the IAM's Thesis Proposal Examination
replaces this requirement.