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PhD in OBHRM: Comprehensive Examinations

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Comprehensive exams are an important step in achieving a doctorate degree at the Rotman School of Management. Our exams in OBHRM are designed to test a student's competency in several academic areas that are critical to their discipline and support their research.

Comprehensive exams in OB, HRM and research methods are written after all course requirements are completed. This exam is taken at the end of the second year in the doctoral program. It is assumed that by this time the student has completed all of the course requirements and has participated in some research projects.

The main purpose of the examination is to assess whether the student has attained sufficient general knowledge of key topics and tools in the OB & HR Area and in research methodology and is ready to begin independent research work. The student is expected to exhibit an in-depth understanding and mastery of the major conceptual and analytical tools necessary for successful research in OB & HR.

The questions are based on some of the courses listed in the PhD calendar, particularly the ‘core’ PhD courses offered by the Area during the student’s first two years in the program.

Details about the content of the qualifying examinations will be provided to the students in advance. The faculty as a whole will evaluate each student's performance on the examination. The results of the examination will be reported back to the student within a few weeks of the examination, along with the committee's general assessment of the student's progress in the program.

Successful passing of the Comprehensive Examination is a necessary requirement for the advancement to the thesis research portion of the program. The possible examination results are:

Unconditional Pass

Conditional Pass: The letter describing your results will specify the additional conditions you must fulfill; the conditions must usually be fulfilled within one year.

Fail with Invitation to Retake: If your performance on the exam was below the passing threshold, but, in the opinion of the committee, your performance in other aspects of the program to date has been sufficiently strong, you may be invited to retake the examination. The examination can usually be retaken in the following semester. Please note that the examination can be taken a maximum of two times – the second failure automatically signals that the student must withdraw from the program. During the post-exam meeting, the committee will recommend the additional steps you should take to increase your chances of success on the second attempt.

Fail without Invitation to Retake: In the opinion of the committee, your performance on the exam and other aspects of the program to date indicate that the chances for the successful retake of the exam are minimal. Students receiving this mark are expected to withdraw from the program.