Candidacy Exam

The Candidacy Exam is typically held in the third year. It will be an oral examination lasting 90 minutes, at which The Candidate should plan to speak for about 45 minutes.

Each student going into the Candidacy Exam should distribute (electronically) a written report about a week in advance both to the committee members and to the option rep.

The report is essentially a thesis proposal and should include:

  • The thesis topic, its motivation, and its scientific context.
  • An overview of the methods to be used, including particular challenges that may arise, the scope of work, and the anticipated outcomes of the project.
  • A timeline with milestones (e.g. data acquired, software written, papers published,etc.) that leads to a thesis defense. The plan must be robust and include contingency plans in case new hardware, new software, or the realization of new science do not work out as anticipated.

    The entirety of the thesis proposal should be understandable by astronomers in a different area of specialization. Note that your thesis commitee should have some of these.

    The suggested length is 4-10 pages. There are no hard limits as we want to give you space to explain yourself, but we also do not want to see a proto-thesis at this stage. You may structure the report however you want so long as the key elements above are present. Please do not use "apjemulate" or any such similar journal style formatting in your submission. This is not a paper being published in a journal, but your proposal for thesis research at Caltech.

    Going forward, it is important to note that while you are not bound to execute exactly the research program you propose in your report, should there be major changes in direction, then you should be sure to consult and possibly re-convene your committee members for advice and for approval of any change in scope or time line.