PhD Preliminary Examination

-Review this web page to ensure your understanding of the requirements, processes and deadlines for scheduling your preliminary examination. Schedule an appointment with the BME graduate programs office for questions not answered on the website.

-Write your prelim proposal document, which is required.

-Work with your research advisor to formalize and arrange an appropriate preliminary examining committee.

-Arrange a date and time for your preliminary exam with your research advisor(s) and thesis advisory committee members.

-Schedule an acceptable conference room or classroom in which to hold your prelim exam.

-Submit the electronic GS Form 8 to officially schedule your exam with the Purdue Graduate School.

-Two weeks prior to your prelim exam, email to the following information:

     a. Your name.

     b. Research title.

     c. Names of Thesis Committee members, with Major Professor designated.

     d. Date, time and place of the Preliminary Examination.

     e. An abstract (no more than 250 words) of the prelim proposal clearly defining the problem and its significance.

-The BME graduate office will coordinate the required preliminary examination forms with your research advisor(s).  

Detailed information and instructions related to the PhD preliminary exam:

When to Schedule: Doctoral students should take the preliminary exam once significant progress has been made towards the goals of their thesis, but at such time that faculty suggestions and criticism will still have an impact on their research. Please note: The official electronic plan of study must be submitted and approved by all advisory committee members, School Head and Purdue Graduate School before your request to schedule your preliminary exam will be approved. Refer to the Purdue Graduate School Examination Deadlines and note that two semesters must pass between the preliminary and final exams.

Examining Committee: Students entering the program Fall 2018 and beyond should work with your research advisor(s) to formalize and arrange your preliminary examining committee of at least four faculty members including your advisor(s). The examining committee must consist of at least 51% regular certified Purdue graduate faculty members. Students who entered the program prior to Fall 2018 should review their advisory committee to ensure it still meets this requirement. Consult with the BME graduate programs office if unsure.

Written proposal: The written document required for the preliminary exam should be in the format of a proposal with clearly identified research questions and objectives and plans to address them. General guidelines: The main body of 25 pages (single spaced, 12 pt font, 1" margins) should contain a critical analysis of the background literature, clear thesis objectives, mathematical models, theories and/or experimental procedures, preliminary results and discussion, and detailed proposal of the work to be completed to finish plus a discussion of expected difficulties and proposed plan of attack of such problems. Submitted or accepted journal papers or conference proceedings can be included in the appendix. A budget, budget justification, and facilities and equipment statement are also required. The student’s research advisor(s) should provide guidance on the written preliminary exam proposal and designate a deadline by which the student should provide the document to the committee members.

Room Scheduling: Generally, a two-hour period should be reserved for the preliminary exam to include a 45-60 minute presentation by the candidate and questions by his/her thesis committee. The preferred room is MJIS 2001. From an MJIS computer, request a reservation via the RAT (Resource Allocation Tool). Those without access to an MJIS computer may email Jo Gelfand at to reserve MJIS 2001, providing your name, faculty advisor name, purpose for reservation, date and start and end times. If MJIS 2001 is not available on the date and time you need it, contact for other room suggestions.

Submitting GS Form 8: Log in to myPurdue. Under the Academics tab, go to your electronic plan of study and choose the link for requesting the examining committee. This form must be initiated by you and signed by the BME graduate office, your research advisor and the BME Head at least 15 days before the proposed date of the exam. In the case of co-advisors, only one of them will need to sign. The exam is not officially scheduled until the Purdue Graduate School grants the final approval.

Day of Prelim Exam: At least two committee members must be physically present in the room, and one of these must be your primary research advisor. Other committee members may participate via videoconference with the advisor's approval. Students located at IUPUI may hold their exams in Indianapolis if the committee approves. The student must reserve an appropriate room at IUPUI as well as MJIS 2001 at the Purdue West Lafayette campus. In all instances, the student is responsible for making the necessary teleconference arrangements.

Evaluation and Results: Evaluation of the written document and oral presentation will be conducted by the student's thesis advisory committee. The committee members will be given the opportunity to complete a BME Prelim Exam Evaluation Form. Copies of the evaluations will be provided to the student for his or her benefit.