Oral Candidacy examinations are a Faculty of Graduate Studies requirement. In addition, the Program has instituted a written portion as a required prerequisite to the oral examination. Since both Program and Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations are concerned, students and supervisors should be thoroughly knowledgeable about the FGS "Handbook". Candidacy examinations are normally to be completed by the Spring semester following the first year of the Ph.D. program and must be held after the supervisory committee has approved a thesis proposal. The Faculty of Graduate Studies requires that the oral Candidacy examination be completed no later than twenty-eight months into the Program. A minimum of four weeks and a maximum of three months may pass between the establishment of the Candidacy committee and the oral examination. The oral examination normally occurs within the two-week period following the written exam.
Please note that Regulation 7.4 of the Faculty of Graduate Studies "Handbook", which states that no courses are permitted after the Candidacy examination, does not apply to students in the Clinical Psychology Program. Prior to the Candidacy examination, students must indicate which required Program courses (breadth, elective, internship) are remaining in their degree Program. The Director of the Program will authorize limited courses necessary to the Program's requirements to be taken after the Candidacy examination, subject to the approval of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Students who take any courses over and above those courses approved at the time of the Candidacy Examination will be assessed extra-to-Program fees for these courses. Two of the most important issues in a Candidacy exam are the scope and breadth of the examination.
“The candidacy examination should focus on the background knowledge of students in their discipline, as well as their preparedness to conduct research of high quality in their particular fields of study.”
Written Candidacy Examination
The written exam is conducted in two parts, written on the same day. Part A includes three integrative questions based upon issues reviewed in the latest edition of the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology (available online through the university library). The edition available four months prior to the exam is considered the latest edition to allow students time to review the content. Part B includes an article review question focusing on providing a critique of the article, e.g., its methodology, statistics, theory, and ethics. Students are presented with an article and an accompanying question.
Part A and B questions are developed by the Candidacy Committee, comprised of three faculty members (or adjuncts or clinical supervisors) including the Program Director, and reviewed by program faculty before being presented to the students, to ensure that they represent the above requirements. Membership on the Candidacy Committee will rotate with each new edition of the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology.
Candidacy examinations in the Clinical Psychology program are normally held once per year in the spring (approximately April/ May). The students will write in a common area using computers, organized by the Program Director. On the date assigned for the written examination, the student will pick up the Part A questions from the Program Director (or designate) at 9:00 a.m. Students can bring a copy of the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology but no other notes or materials. The student then has three hours (until 12:00 p.m.) to prepare their responses independently. The Program Director will collect responses at 12:00. Students will pick up the Part B question at 1:30 and will have two hours to prepare their response independently, in a closed book manner.
There may be exceptional circumstances that would prevent a student from being able to write the Candidacy Exam in the Spring. In these cases the student will be allowed to write in the Fall (typically September), and their progress through the program will not be impaired. This must be approved by the Graduate Program Director by the end of Winter term.
Oral Candidacy Examination
The oral examination must be held in accordance with the requirements of the FGS Handbook, and within two weeks of the written examination. The Oral Examination may deal with any area reviewed in the current edition of the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, which will form the basis of the examination. Students can bring a copy of the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology but no other notes or materials. The candidacy committee consists of a neutral chair and the doctoral supervisory committee plus two additional members. There must be no conflict of interest between the student or supervisor and the additional members of the Examination Committee. Because the focus of the examination is to evaluate student’s preparedness to undertake research in clinical psychology, there must be at least two core clinical faculty members on the committee. It is recommended that clinical adjunct faculty and/or Candidacy Committee members be involved when possible. The supervisor will normally take an active role in the examination.
At the completion of the oral examination, the examination committee will vote to pass or fail the student, based upon both the written and the oral performance of the student. The Report of Candidacy Oral will be completed by all examiners and handed in to the Program Office for the Director’s signature before being forwarded to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. In the event of a 17 recommendation to fail the student, the Candidacy examination may be retaken once on the recommendation of the examining committee and with the approval of the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.