Taking Exams

When and Where to Hold Exams

As long as you meet the registered semester requirement you can take an exam with seven days’ notice to the Graduate School. This gives the director of graduate studies (DGS) time to announce the exam to other faculty members. Any may choose to attend.

Exams must be held on the Ithaca campus or at a satellite location. However, for an exam to be held at a satellite location, the exam schedule must be posted in the Ithaca office of the field of study, as well as in the satellite location, prior to the exam.

Scheduling Exams and Exam Results

Students must schedule exams with the Graduate School at least seven calendar days in advance by filing the proper examination scheduling form. Scheduling forms can be found on the Forms pages.

The Role of Faculty Members During Exams

All members of the special committee are expected to participate in the examinations and evaluate you, the candidate. Other members of the graduate faculty are encouraged to attend exams and may question you only during the time allocated by the chair.

Having Special Committee Members Attend Exams Remotely

At the discretion of the field demonstrated by permission from the DGS and with the agreement of all members of the committee when scheduling an exam, one or more committee members may participate from a remote off-campus location via appropriate, high-quality electronic audio and video conferencing. At least one committee member must be located on the university campus with the student during the exam.

  • If the committee has only the minimum number of members, no more than one member of the committee can be physically absent from an exam.
  • If the committee has more than the minimum number of required members, then the additional members can be physically absent along with one member from the minimum configuration.
  • If the chair is unable to attend in person, he or she must designate one of the minor members with signature authority (not an ad hoc member) in attendance to sign the “Results of Examination” form on his or her behalf.

Exam Results

Examination results must be filed with the Graduate School within three business days of the exam. 


If you pass an exam, all members of the examining committee should report this decision to the Graduate School within three business days. No further action is required.

Conditional Passing

You may conditionally pass an exam, in which case the examining committee provides you and the Graduate School with the conditions for passing. Once these conditions are met, you pass the exam.


If you fail an exam, a reexamination is allowed only with the approval of the special committee. At least three months must pass from the time of the failed exam to the reexamination.

Unanimously Failing

If you’re unanimously failed, you must petition the General Committee to continue study. If the minor members, but not the chair, oppose allowing a reexamination; or the chair, but not all of the minor members oppose a reexamination, you must petition the General Committee to continue study.

Graduate faculty members who attend the exam, but are not on the examination committee, may inform the dean in writing if they disagree with the results of the exam.