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The Final Oral Examination

The project Liaison will contact the candidate and all panel members to schedule the final oral examination.

When the candidate and all panel members are assembled for the examination, the Liaison will confirm that all panel members have been introduced to the candidate. The entire examination process should not exceed sixty minutes, including the time taken for the closed session vote. Observers may be present during the examination but may not participate unless invited by the Liaison.

Summary, Questions, and Answers

Following the introduction of all panel members, the Liaison will invite the candidate to present an oral summary and description of his/her project. In no case should this oral presentation exceed ten minutes. The candidate may briefly review the chief points in the project, comment on issues that remain unresolved, and/or suggest directions in which the project might be taken in the future. If it seems advisable, the candidate is welcome to use PowerPoint or an overhead presentation, but this is not mandatory, and it should not be a distraction. Where a computer or projector is used, the candidate is responsible for making certain that the equipment is available and operational in the examination room. Whatever the format, it is important not to cover too much material, and the presentation should be practiced carefully in advance.

The summary is followed by a questioning period of no more than forty minutes, during which issues not discussed by the candidate may be addressed in response to questions asked by panel members. Each panel member should be afforded an equitable opportunity to ask questions. The Liaison should ensure that participants speak only to the issue. Tradition grants outside examiners the privilege of the first question, although the outside examiner may waive this privilege. With the consensus of the panel, the Liaison may shorten or briefly extend the examination period if such action does not interfere with the panel's sole objective. The examination should test the candidate's qualifications for Honors, not his or her physical stamina.

Grade Determination

After the questioning period, the candidate and all observers are excused, and the final ten minutes of the Examination are reserved for the panel's discussion of the candidate's performance and for the final voting procedure (see below). Candidates are asked to wait while the panel deliberates, and are informed of the outcome of the Examination by the Liaison as soon as the panel reaches its decision.

Grades for Honors are determined in a closed session by secret ballot. The Liaison will remind the panel of their stated function, the criteria for judgment (see the definition of the examination panel above), and the grading options (see below). Each panel member has one vote unless there are two advisors, in which case each advisor has a half vote. With the consent of the Honors Committee, a panel member may invite a colleague who is not a member of the panel to participate in the examination and the determination of the grade. In such instances the adjunct panel member is assigned half the regular member's rights (half a question period, half a vote). The panel's discussion of the candidate's performance and the voting will be conducted in closed session with only panel members present. At least ten minutes should be reserved for this session.

Examination Conclusion

At the conclusion of the examination, the Liaison will complete the Oral Examination Report and have each panel member sign it. The Liaison will inform the candidate orally immediately after the examination, but remind the candidate that the grade is official only upon receipt of a letter from the Honors Committee. The successful candidate will be given all copies of the thesis immediately after the exam. A successful candidate may be instructed to make editorial changes in the thesis. The Liaison will inform the successful candidate of the deadline for these changes and for filing the corrected copy with the Honors chair. Failure to meet this deadline will jeopardize the awarding of credit. It is the responsibility of the project advisor to ensure that the changes requested by the panel are made adequately. The Liaison has the authority to request a copy of the corrected thesis for his or her approval.

Under no circumstances will the Liaison tolerate the intrusion of non-academic considerations in the examination. The Liaison has the authority to require observers to leave the examination room, to call for a recess, or to dissolve the panel and to call for a new examination date should such action become necessary in the interest of academic standards and fairness. The Liaison's ruling in such instances is not dependent upon the judgment of panel members, but may be appealed to the Honors Committee which is the source of the Liaison's authority.

Grades for Honors

Grades for the Honors Program are Honors (H), Pass (P), and No Credit (NC). Deadlocks occur when the first secret ballot results in one of the following possible cases: (i) 2-H, 1-P, 2-NC; (ii) 1-H, 2-P, 2-NC; (iii) 2-H, 2-P, 1-NC. A discussion by the members of the panel will precede a second secret ballot. If the panel remains deadlocked, an open vote will follow a second period of discussion. If the deadlock remains unresolved, the assigned grade will be Pass because each of the above three possible cases shows at least 3 votes for a passing grade.

For Honors, an “H” is entered on the transcript and computed as eight quality points in the grade point average, i.e., the equivalent of an “A” in Courses 400 and 401. For Pass, a “P” is entered on the transcript and the Candidate receives two course credits for Honors, but the Candidate's overall grade point average is not affected. For No Credit, “NC” is entered on the transcript and the Candidate receives no credit for either of the two Honors courses.

Each Candidate who receives an “H” graduates “with Honors” in the field of his/her Honors project. The Candidate's diploma carries the appropriate Latin phrase and the Commencement program specifies the applicable notation. The Theses of Candidates who receive Honors are bound and placed in Reeves Library.