Evaluations & Examinations

Cornel Campus bird's-eye view

Field Requirements

  1. The field will review the progress of each student at the end of their 2nd and 4th semesters.

  2. The field will consider a student to have made satisfactory progress in these reviews if they have maintained an A- average an no worse than a B+ in the first courses taken that satisfy the following:
    • ​​2 probability courses (Math 6710/6720 or ORIE 6500/6510)
    • 1 theory course (Math 6730)
    • 1 course in linear models (STSCI 7170)
    • 1 of Generalized Linear Models (BTRY 7180) or Statistical Computing (BTRY 6520)
  3. A PhD student failing to achieve these benchmarks will be given the option of taking a written examination, typically offered within the first 2 weeks of the Fall semester of their second year. The Field considers a PhD student to have passed the First Year Evaluation if this examination is passed at a sufficiently high level.

Although a rare occurrence, a PhD student that fails either the First or Second Year Evaluation will not be allowed to continue in the program beyond the end of their second year. Per the Code of Legislation of the Graduate School Faculty, and depending on academic performance, such students may be eligible to receive a MS degree in Statistics.

Students that wish to appeal dismissal decisions made by the Academic Review Committee should consult the Graduate School for information on proper grievance procedures.

Graduate School Requirements

Students in the PhD program must complete a doctoral dissertation approved by your Special Committee. As part of this process, the Graduate School requires that students successfully pass the "A" (pre-dissertation) and "B" (dissertation defense) examinations (see also Program Description). The timing of these examinations depends on your progress and approval of your Special Committee, subject to certain timing constraints imposed by the Graduate School.

The A examination is the doctoral candidacy examination; with rare exception, this exam is administered to students in the PhD program after the completion of all required coursework. Passing this exam means that you are considered eligible to write and present a dissertation to the graduate faculty of the Field of Statistics. The Special Committee may, at their discretion, require both written and oral portions of the A exam. Per the Code of Legislation of the Graduate School Faculty, the Special Committee may also choose to award a PhD student a "Non Thesis Masters Degree" upon completion of the A Exam.

The B examination is the dissertation defense, and is an oral examination at which you present and discuss your major results and answer questions about it and any other related topics.

Regarding the timing of these examinations for full-time students in the PhD program:

  • Per Graduate School residency requirements, you must complete a minimum of 2 semesters of satisfactory study before you can schedule your A exam, and a minimum of 4 semesters of satisfactory study before you can schedule your B exam.
  • There must be at least two semesters with satisfactory progress in between your A & B exams.
  • Your A exam must be taken within 7 semesters of entering the program; your B exam must be taken within 7 years of entering the program.

In some cases, exceptions to the various rules delineated above may be requested by filing a General Petition with the Graduate School. This includes any changes to your Special Committee after the A examination.

Field Required Committee Meetings

In addition to A and B exams, students are required to meet with their committee at least once in each academic year following their A Exam.

This meeting will take the form of a presentation of progress to date and feedback from the committee.  The committee must indicate to the DGS that the student is making satisfactory progress. This requirement will be waived in the years that the student takes their A or B exams.

Sixth Year Funding

The field guarantees 5 years of funding. Students requiring funding beyond this time-frame must submit a written application. The application will be due January 1 before the funding is requested and will be reviewed by the PhD admissions committee.

The application will consist of:

  • A letter from the student requesting a sixth year of funding and outlining
  1. Their current research progress.
  2. The reasons that their degree requires more time than normal expectations.
  3. A timetable for when specific material will be completed during their sixth year.
  • A letter from the chair of the students special committee supporting their request and outlining progress, signed by all members of the special committee following a meeting with the student and review of their progress.