Preliminary Qualifying Exam (PQE)

The Goal

The primary goal of the Preliminary Qualifying Examination (PQE) is to ensure that you have achieved a high standard of scientific scholarship and skills that are critical for successful completion of your Ph.D. thesis and beyond.  In addition to assessing your foundation in genetics, molecular biology, cell biology and biochemistry, the PQE will test your ability to:


  • Develop hypothesis- or technology-driven research plans likely to advance a field
  • Prepare a compelling research plan to test these hypotheses or technologies, including describing the overall strategy, methodology and analyses to be used to accomplish the aims as well as discussing potential problems and alternative strategies
  • Orally explain and defend these hypotheses and your research plan
  • Critically analyze and interpret data











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of Harvard College