PhD Qualification Exam

 Rules and Regulations for the PhD Qualification Exam for the Biology Graduate Program of

 the Graduate School of Natural and Applied Sciences of METU




With the consent of the advisor, PhD pre-candidate must select 1 major field and 1 minor field from the list of PhD qualification exam fields and must submit their application to the Departmental Doctoral Qualification (DDQ) Committee.

 To select a subject as a Major Field, undergraduate (main must courses or technical electives) and at least 3 graduate courses offered for that subject must be completed.

 To select a subject as a Minor Field, undergraduate (main must courses or technical electives) and at least 2 graduate courses offered for that subject must be completed.


With the approval of the advisor, in the application, names of 3 main and 2 substitute faculty members for the main field, and 2 main and 1 substitute faculty members for the minor field are proposed to form the examination committee. The DDQ Committee will select the written exam committee members (3 for the major, 2 for the minor fields). The DDQ committee has the authority to alternate between the proposed main and substitute faculty members or may ask for the advisor to find a more appropriate faculty member for the field.The qualifying-exam committee must consist of (at least 1 or at most 2) faculty members outside the department or outside METU.  Any change in the exam committee composition is realized by informing the advisor.


If there is more than one PhD pre-candidate who will take the exam in the same period, common committees for several students may be formed based on the suggested exam committee members. But for the oral exam, a committee of 5 (selected among the written exam committee members) is formed by DDQ committee based on the suggestion of the students’ advisors. The pre-candidate is considered successful on the condition that the student should earn at least 70 points out of 100. The oral exam grade is the average of grades issued by the individual oral examination committee members.


The DDQ committee requests 3 questions both for major and the minor fields from each of the exam committee members and prepares a written exam of 6 questions for the major field and 4 questions for the minor. Two questions out of 3 provided questions by the exam committee member are selected.


Written exams are held at the same day for all students. The date of the exam is announced by the DDQ committee. The advisor determines the date of the oral exam (coordinating with the examining committee member(s) from the outside) and informs the chair of the DDQ committee. Written exams for the major and minor fields are completed within 2 days. The coordination of the exams is under the supervision of at least one member of the DDQ committee. Exam papers are then passed to faculty members immediately and asked to be graded in within the given deadline.


After the evaluation of written exams, the oral exam committee meets. If the result of written exam is satisfactory, the student is allowed to take the oral examination. For a student to be successful in the written exam, he/she has to earn ≥ 70 points out of 100 from the major field and ≥ 50 points from the minor field*. If the student is not successful in a field, he/she is advised how to improve for the next round of exams that he/she has to re-take. If a student is found successful for the written but fails to be satisfactory for the oral exam, he/she is listed as unsuccessful but can be admitted directly to the oral exam for the following semester.


Written and oral exam grades together with the exam papers are passed to the PhD qualification committee by the advisor. The committee then decides whether the student passed the qualification exam or not.


* If the student fails in the written exam for the minor field (≤50) but gets a ≥80 grade in the written exam for the major field, the student may be admitted to the oral exam. However, if he/she is successful in the oral exam, he/she will still be declared unsuccessful overall in the qualification exam so that the following exam period, he/she has to take both the written and the oral exam for the previously failed minor field.

 If the student fails only in the written exam for the major field (earning <70 points), he/she has to re-take written for only the major field and oral exam both in major and minor fields in  the following examination period.

 If one fails in the written exams for both the major and the minor fields, he/she has to re-take both the written and the oral exams for the major and the minor fields in the following examination period.



List of major and minor PhD qualification exam fields that the PhD pre-candidates can select in the Biology Graduate Program


1. Evolution
2. Population Biology
3. Genetics
4. Molecular Biology
5. Molecular Genetics

6. Plant Biology
7. Microbiology
8. Biochemistry
9. Ecology
10. Biotechnology
11. Biophysics
12. Physiology  
13. Biodiversity-Conservation Biology
14. Freshwater Biology (Limnology
15. Cell Biology
16. Biochemical Pharmacology and Toxicology