Comprehensive Qualifying Examinations

Written Qualifying Examination

The Written Qualifying Examination (WQE) tests your breadth of biomedical knowledge, as well as your analytical and critical reasoning skills. It may be taken no more than twice. If it is not passed on the first attempt, it must be retaken by the end of the quarter following the quarter in which the exam was first taken. Failing the examination twice will result in dismissal.

This examination must be completed before the end of your second year in the program. The Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCaTS) predoctoral programs education specialist will assist you in selecting a date to take it.

These courses must be completed before you take the exam:

  • CORE 6000 — Responsible Conduct of Research
  • CORE 6100 — Chemical Principles of Biological Systems
  • CORE 6150 — Genome Biology
  • CTSC 5010 — Clinical Research Protocol Development
  • CTSC 5020 — Regulatory Issues in Clinical Research
  • CTSC 5300 — Introduction to Clinical Epidemiology
  • CTSC 5600 — Statistics in Clinical Research
  • CTSC 5601 — Utilizing Statistics in Clinical Research
  • CTSC 5720 — Clinical Trials: Design and Conduct

The examination involves preparing a short proposal based on a translational research question the student generates from recent scientific articles. Generally, the subject matter is outside of the student's area of research training.

Oral Qualifying Examination

Once the WQE has been passed, the Oral Qualifying Examination (OQE) may be taken. The CCaTS predoctoral programs education specialist will assist you in selecting an examination date. All approved committee members must be present at the exam. Only one dissenting vote is allowed for a "pass" or "conditional pass."

In the event of a conditional pass, the specific requirements that must be satisfied by you will be listed on the back of the OQE report form. The examination may be taken no more than twice. If it is not passed on the first attempt, it must be retaken by the end of the quarter following the quarter in which the exam was first taken. Failing the examination twice will result in dismissal.

  • Committee. The composition of your OQE committee is determined by the CCaTS predoctoral programs director, though:
    • The committee must consist of four members. All faculty must have graduate faculty privileges (must be logged in to the Mayo network), and three must have full privileges.
    • A minimum of two members must be designated by the program director as experienced examiners (must be logged in to the Mayo network).
  • Format. For the OQE, you'll submit a written thesis proposal and defend your thesis research proposal to the OQE committee. The proposal should summarize the goals, methods and rationale for the research project.

    The oral examination is composed of two or three parts. The first part is an oral presentation of your proposal, while the second part is a discussion between you and your examination committee regarding the proposal.

    If there were any conditional elements or weaknesses identified at the time of the WQE, the committee may add a third part to the examination. This third part includes a wide-ranging discussion of either the area of deficiency or course work material covered by you during your first two years. You're notified after your WQE about whether to expect this third component during your OQE.