Comps III is also known as Admission to Candidacy and serves two purposes. First is to demonstrate your knowledge of the field and your work. Second is to ensure that you have a plan in place to graduate. The exam is formalized as a thesis proposal, which should include information about your past work and what must be done for you to complete your thesis, including a timeline with milestones. This proposal can be a written document and/or presentation slides to be presented in a Comps III meeting (attended by a quorum of the Comps III committee) as decided in consultation between the student, advisor, and committee.
Comps III must be taken by the end of your 4th year. If you are unable to meet that deadline, then you must submit a request for an extension to the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies, signed by you and your research advisor. If granted, an extension will be for one semester. Passing Comps III requires affirmative votes by a majority of the committee and any student who fails is allowed to retake it once after a time determined by the committee.
For Comps III, each student should follow the guidelines below to choose a five-member thesis committee, although only three (including the research advisor and titular advisor, if applicable) are required to attend the Comps III exam. Please note: all five committee members must sign the exam form. Students should meet with their entire committee at least once a year. Then, when the student is ready to defend, four of these members will serve on the defense committee along with an outside member. All committee members must be on the graduate faculty. However, a researcher does not need to be a faculty member to have a graduate faculty appointment. Please see the Graduate Program Assistant for a current list of graduate faculty members.
A student must be registered as full time during the semester in which the Comps III exam is taken.
Selecting a Committee
A student's committee is comprised of five graduate faculty members. There must be at least three physicists on the committee. One or two members may come from other departments, but this is optional. All five members may be from the Physics Department. The following are specific requirements for students in special circumstances:
The guidelines above were agreed upon by the Department Chair and the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies. To deviate from these guidelines, you must petition the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies in writing.
Paperwork and Deadlines
The candidate is expected to prepare and submit the following documents (Available on the Graduate School Web site):
- Comps III Examination Report Form - The Doctoral Comprehensive Exam Form (Workflow Process) should be filled out two weeks before the exam. The exam committee will be sent the form in docusign upon completion of the exam. The pay rate for RAs is greater for students that have completed Comps III (currently $133 more per month). To ensure you receive the correct pay, please submit a copy of the signed form to whoever handles your RA pay.
- Candidacy Application - The Candidacy Application for Advanced Degree may be accessed on the Grad School website. The form will be completed in OnBase. Candidacy Applications should be submitted on or before the day of the Comps III exam.