The Ph.D. comprehensive exam is a thorough test of the student's knowledge and intellectual capability.

The student is expected to demonstrate a mastery of Food Science and be able to utilize that knowledge to interpret research and creatively solve problems.

Candidates are required to have a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 for work performed at Penn State and must be registered as a graduate degree student at the time the comprehensive exam is given. The examination is officially scheduled and announced by the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services following recommendation by the doctoral committee chair through the Department Head. Scheduling and request form are completed by the Graduate Program Coordinator. and must be completed at least two weeks prior to the oral examination.

The examination shall consist of both a written and oral section. The written portion will consist of a research proposal not to exceed 20 pages in length. The format and topic of the written proposal will be determined by the thesis advisor(s), in consultation with the committee and the candidate. The proposal will be distributed to each member of the student's committee at least two weeks prior to the oral portion of the examination. The oral examination should be comprehensive in nature and not merely focus on the student's thesis research (questions are not limited to the narrow subject matter under investigation).

A favorable vote of at least two-thirds of the members of the committee is required for passing. Based on the student's performance, the committee may recommend to the Dean of the Graduate School one of the following actions:

  1. That the candidate be passed,
  2. That the candidate be re-examined at a later date,
  3. That the candidate be failed and dropped from the Ph.D. program.

Students who pass their comprehensive exam can register for FD SC 601 (Ph.D. dissertation full time) for zero credits. Tuition is not charged for this course but there is a Ph.D. Dissertation Fee.