Qualifying Exam

The qualifying exam is aimed to test your knowledge in molecular biology and to measure your progress of research.

The qualifying exam will take place before the end of the 6th term. It is recommended to do not follow any course during the term of your Qualifying Exam. In exceptional circumstances you can request a postponement of the qualifying exam (you must contact the direction of program before any request).

This exam is passed before a board of four examiners approved by the direction of the program on the recommendation of the research supervisor. The composition sheet of the jury of your qualifying exam has to be fill et the beginning of the 6th term.

At the end of the examination, the board will decide whether you have succeeded or failed and issue a report. It may also decide to postpone the examination. In this case, you are required to retake an exam in 6 months.

The qualifying exam consists two parts: written and oral.

*** Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, please carefully read the Guide of Qualifying Exam using Zoom ***

Composition of the board:

  • the Chairman which must be member of the programs It is generally the head of your unit or his / her representative;
  • your research supervisor;
  • an internal or external member to your research centre;
  • an external member to Université de Montréal

The jury should not be composed of collaborators who jointly published in the last 5 years, with your supervisor or co-supervisor. The choice of the jury is in agreement with your research director and the head of your unit.


The written examination

The written exam consists of a review of articles and the development of a research project. The president of the jury will contact the members of the jury (excluding the research director and co-director) so that he can provide them with an article each. The president will have to ensure that these articles are sufficiently related to the research theme of the student’s project (example of research theme:  signaling, development, stem cells, transcription, replication, DNA damage, cancer biology, cell biology. ..). Articles cannot come from the research director’s laboratory or from the laboratory of a member of the jury. Three weeks before the day fixed for the oral test, the president will give you the three selected articles. You will then have to choose one to do a written critical study, but you will also have to be able to discuss the other two. The written document that you must submit must be made up of 10 pages (double-spaced excluding references), separated into two parts. Five pages should be devoted to the review of the article (including a short review of the literature on the subject treated of about 1 page) and five pages should present the main lines of a research project that you will propose to develop the results obtained in the article.

In addition to this 10-page report, you must give each member of the jury, one week before the date fixed for the oral examination, a detailed summary of the project (4 pages excluding references, plus 1 page of figures, line spacing 1.5 , Times New Roman 12 font, 1 inch margins) and a short CV including course and grade update. The student must also send a formative evaluation to the program secretary.

The Oral examination

The duration of the oral exam is approximately 3 hours. This examination takes place one week after the submission of the written documents. You will have to organize it with the collaboration of your research director.
The oral exam takes place as follows:
1. Presentation of the doctoral project (approximately 1 hour, including 20 minutes of presentation followed by a question period).
2. Discussion of the article you have chosen and the development of the research project (about 1 hour).
3. Questions about your knowledge of current topics in molecular biology. These questions could also relate to the 3 other articles proposed (approximately 30-45 min).