Advancing to Doctoral Candidacy
The A exam is also known as the examination for admission to candidacy. This oral exam may include a written component, as determined by your special committee. You can take the exam after completing two registered semesters in your program, but before beginning your seventh semester—unless special permission is obtained from the dean.
Passing the A exam means the graduate faculty believes that you are ready to proceed into the dissertation phase of your degree program.
Some fields may offer a special master’s degree after a doctoral candidate has completed four semesters of registration and either passed the A exam or performed at the level of an A exam. This is a master’s degree awarded to a student who is continuing on for the Ph.D., and is awarded without completion of a thesis.